ArchitectureBoston

Boil That Dirty Water

Posted in Vol 13 No 2 by bsaab on May 26, 2010

Boston-area residents have become acutely aware of the extent – and fragility – of their water infrastructure.

Making the invisible visible: If you live in Greater Boston, this map shows where your water comes from.

Making the invisible visible: If you live in Greater Boston, this map shows where your water comes from (click to enlarge).


Map of coffee shops open during the Boston boil water order

Map of coffee shops open during the Boston boil water order (click to enlarge)

On May 1, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick declared a State of Emergency when a massive water-pipe break interrupted water service to 30 Massachusetts cities and towns, including the City of Boston. Two million people were ordered to boil their water. The emergency lasted three days: communities implemented emergency water-conservation measures and the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority (MWRA) activated emergency water supplies.

A few weeks later, it’s worth noting how much of a non-event this potential public-relations catastrophe turned out to be. Love that dirty water.

No, ArchitectureBoston didn’t plan the water-pipe break to make our summer issue more timely. But in recognition of this coincidence, we encourage you to check out the following resources.

  • Look to the MWRA, the state agency in charge of metropolitan Boston water system, for all the official information relating to the pipe break, including a detailed slide presentation to the MWRA board of directors (fascinating and geeky all at once), along with a New England Cable News video about the (still-working!) sewer system.
  • Making the invisible visible: If you live in Greater Boston, this map shows where your water comes from.
  • The Aquapocalypse through your eyes: Add your photos to the Boston Society of Architects’ growing Flickr pool documenting the crisis. Did you have trouble making it to work without your morning coffee? You weren’t alone. See the map of downtown Boston locations near an open coffee shop.
  • What happened and why? A special episode of RadioBoston gives you the skinny.

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