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When a Plain-Jane Rain Barrel Simply Won’t Do

Saving water is stylish now! And a consequence of that is more high-design products with which to stylishly save water! While that DIY-hacked, second-hand barrel you dragged from the dump is still perfectly functional, you should know that it’s so last year. The formerly humble and homely rain barrel is already getting an extreme makeover. The aggressively-named Waterwall Fatboy from Waterwall Rainwater Tanks in the UK is sure to satisfy your very-particular modern design sensibilities. From waterwalltanks.com,

Despite the name, the Waterwall Fatboy tank has an excellent size-to-capacity ratio, holding 650 gallons whilst being just over two feet wide. Waterwall tanks are made to exacting standards – the UV stabilised high density polyethylene ensures light does not enter the tank, to stop algae from growing in your tank water. Solid, thick walls keep the tank strong and prevent bulging over the many years of service.

And did we mention they look good? Next up from the company: a freestanding tank that’s designed and engineered to be used as a boundary fence. How much, you ask? Well of course good design is not cheap. Raindepot.com has the 650 gallon Waterwall Fatboy for $1,189.99. (If you’re style-impaired, the site offers plenty of other plain, but reasonable options.)

Modularity is a well-loved concept in modern design; that’s why the Rainwater HOG offers so many design-y opportunities. The innovative, award-winning modular tank stores a large volume of water in a small footprint, opening possibilities for creative applications in architectural and landscape design…like this installation, where they’re being tucked under a deck, ready to bulge with rainwater bounty while staying completely out of sight.

This commercial installation at Nundah School in Queensland, Australia of features 114 HOGs storing 5,700 gallons of water. These units were custom molded in the school colors of yellow and black, and the harvested water is used primarily for toilet flushing with the excess used for garden irrigation. Extra credit for these Rainwater HOGs, as the school uses them as learning tools in math, science, and environmental  studies.

Are you gazing longingly at the Rainwater HOGs, wondering if they’re budget-friendly? This is exceptional style, people! You can’t even get these at Target yet! You can get them from aquabarrel.com, $1,960 for 6 units. Plus shipping.

You can’t buy “A Drop of Water” at any price, because it is (still?) a prototype. Designed by Bas Van Der Veer, it passes the “good design” test with flying marks while ingeniously providing an integrated watering can that automatically fills as it rains. Grab and go! The smallish size will be ideal for you city-types with small container gardens. )If you’ve ever wondered how “one of a kind” prototypes are created, browse the photos of the process at www.basvanderverr.nl)

Eric’s Excellent, Enigmatic Water Collection

This is Eric Lease Morgan, and for the last three decades he’s been amassing an unusual collection. A water collection. No, I don’t mean collecting samples for testing or other scientific pursuits. Since 1978, he has collected about 200 samples of water from all over the world, for reasons that are unclear even to him.

From the Atlantic to the Pacific, the River Ganges, Loch Ness, the Canadian Rockies to Three Mile Island to the Peruvian Amazon and many more, his unusual collection has grown steadily. You might imagine that it is displayed carefully in his home or office for all to marvel at the sight. But it isn’t, because that’s not the reason for the collection.

Many of these waters I haven’t seen in years. Moves from one home to another have relegated them to cardboard boxes that have never been unpacked. Most assuredly some of the bottles have broken and some of the water has evaporated. Such is the life of a water collection.

Salton Sea, California

Salton Sea, California

So how did this all begin? Most of us remember that entrancing moment when we first saw the ocean. For Eric, that moment did not come until he was a young adult, in the summer after high school graduation. Since Eric had never seen the ocean before, he and his best friend set out on an adventure to Ocean City, Maryland, and upon arriving…

At 2 o’clock in the morning, my first impression of the ocean was its sound. It was loud. In the light of day I was impressed with its size. Resolving myself to being able to see the ocean whenever I wanted, I bought a deformed bottle for 59 cents and filled it with water. Thus, my water collection was born.

Eric’s college Philosophy major further reinforced the concept through the study of Western thinking.

…Heraclitus who believed the only constant was change, and water was the essencial element of the universe. These ideas were elaborated upon by other philosophers who thought there was not one essencial element, but four: earth, water, air, and fire. I felt like I was on to something.

Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

Roman Forum in Rome, Italy

While traveling student-style through Europe in the early 1980s, the collection grew by leaps and bounds. During this six weeks, Eric collected water from the Seine at Notre Dame (Paris), the Thames (London), the Eiger Mountain (near Interlaken, Switzerland), the Aegean Sea (Ios, Greece), and many other places.

Over the years, his collection continues to grow at a slower, but steady pace. Each sample contains not just the element of water, but memories of a time and place… Myrtle Beach, South Carolina on a day playing hooky from work. From a pond at Versailles during his honeymoon. From the Missouri River, following the footsteps of Lewis and Clarke.

And with so many samples and memories, what stands out? What are his personal favorites?

Nice, because it was the prettiest; Atlantic Ocean, because it was my first and it is fun to watch the sand sift through the skinny part of the melted bottle; Caribbean Sea at Lime Cay because that is where my family and I had a whole Jamaican island to ourselves; Roman Forum, just because it came from a cool place; Salton Sea because that water is so dead it is unbelievable.

Caribbean Sea at Lime Cay, Kingston, Jamaica

Caribbean Sea at Lime Cay, Kingston, Jamaica

One thing I wondered… with today’s air travel security restrictions, how does he manage to bring home new additions to his collection without getting the full suspected-terrorist treatment at airports?

Security restrictions? Definitely! Collecting water has gotten expensive. When I travel I almost invariably never check any luggage. Unfortunately, carry-on luggage is not allowed to contain bottles of water. Consequently I have recently begun to check my luggage on the trip home — incurring a handling fee — just so my water can come along for the ride. Each of these bottles of water is costing me about $15 each.

And one of the best things about all this? Eric Lease Morgan is a librarian, and a computer-savvy one who has provided access to his collection on the web! So, we can all enjoy browsing the waters of the world from the comfort of our chairs!

Homepage: Eric Lease Morgan’s Water Collection
Collecting Water and Putting it on the Web (3-part blog series)
Water Collection Image Gallery
Water Collection, Links listed alphabetically
Water Collection Map View

Of course Eric’s 30-year endeavor isn’t world-changing, but still, for reasons I can’t explain I’m heartened to know that his water collection exists. I marvel at the fact that all of us can learn of it and see it, even if it is for no practical purpose. Thanks, Eric, for sharing it!

Finally, again, why do I do this? Why do I collect the water? Why have a spent so much time creating a system for providing access to the collection? Ironically, I am unable to answer succinctly. It has something to do with creativity. It has something to do with “arsience“. It has something to do with my passion for the library profession and my ability to manifest it through computers. It has something to do with the medium of my art. It has something to do with my desire to share and expand the sphere of knowledge. “Idea. To be an idea. To be an idea and an example to others… Idea”. I really don’t understand it through and through.