Waterwell

Contributing to and understanding the value of clean, safe drinking water.


The Problem

As the world’s availability of potable freshwater continues to diminish, we must rethink our traditional relationship with water. In first world countries, we take our readily accessible clean water for granted, losing that understanding of our water sources that’s so critical in many parts of the world.

How can we reconnect with how and where we get our water?

The Audience

The Waterwell was designed as a public structure, accessible and contributed to by the larger community surrounding it. While this was primarily a conceptual project, I envisioned that these could replace traditional water fountains that would normally live in places like offices, schools, or government buildings.


At the current consumption rate, this situation will only get worse. By 2025, two-thirds of the world’s population may face water shortages.
— World Wildlife Fund

water scarcity

The freshwater we depend on is shrinking constantly, making clean water more and more valuable. Factors like climate change, pollution, and industrialized agriculture are threatening the world's availability of freshwater. Even today, billions of people lack access to clean, freshwater. And as the world's population grows, so will the demand for more water-intensive foods like meat. While many may not realize it on a day-to-day basis, this situation will only grow more dire if we don't change our attitudes around the value of freshwater.

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from thin air

During my junior year at CMU, I developed the Waterwell, a conceptual atmospheric generator that condenses water vapor from the air and filters it to produce clean, potable water. But unlike a traditional fountain one just drinks from without thinking, Waterwell can only be powered by those who use it. Users generate energy through the charging pad, gaining a sense of connection between what they’re doing and the valuable water they receive. Instead of lecturing people about water conservation, with this approach, I strove to instill a sense of pride, dignity, and empowerment in the user to make a difference with their own two feet.

The exposed piping helps maintain the idea that the water is physically coming from somewhere. The large screen prompts users each step of the way and provides information as to how much energy they’ve pumped. When not in use, the display shows how much water the community has pumped there in total. Additional info such as local water sources and quality may also be displayed.

Placing a bottle under the spigot activates the Waterwell.

Placing a bottle under the spigot activates the Waterwell.

The user can then start pumping to generate their share of energy.

The user can then start pumping to generate their share of energy.

The display shows the amount of energy and water that has been generated.

The display shows the amount of energy and water that has been generated.

 

The user first either steps onto the charging pad or place their water bottle under the spigot. The display then prompts them to start pumping. Once enough energy has been pumped, the water starts to flow. Users can stop the flow and continue pumping in order to contribute towards the community surplus. The idea of "paying it forward" and pumping someone else's water can help foster a sense of communal bond and pride.

 

 

Project done in spring 2013 at Carnegie Mellon University.

 

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