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The Iconic New York City… Water Tower?

In that most sophisticated of cities, New York, New York, the wooden water tower still reigns supreme. www.amny.com has a fascinating story on the many wooden water towers that dot the skyline. You might  mistake these for relics of days gone by, but even the newer towers look old, as the material of choice is still wood.

In the city, buildings taller than six stories need some sort of independent water tower and pump system to deliver adequate water pressure.

On East 57th Street, New York City, three architectural approaches for rooftop water towers. (From Wikipedia Commons)

An excerpt from amny.com: (Read the full story here.)

Water towers: NYC’s misunderstood icons

New York City’s skyline is dotted with wooden water towers that are easy to mistake for vanishing relics of the bygone eras of seltzer bottles and street gas lamps.

But what many New Yorkers don’t realize is the towers are hardly antiques — in fact, most drink and bathe from the water stored in them every day.

“When I tell people what I do for a living, they can’t believe it is still done,” said Kenny Lewis, foreman of the Rosenwach Tank Co.’s wood shop in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, the only one like it in the city. “After people notice the tanks, they can’t believe how many there are.”

Emergencies, Disasters and Scary Times

Under the dire headline, California faces ‘grimmest water situation ever’ The Guardian (UK) includes the quote from a local farmer, “It’s an absolute emergency and anything to get water flowing quickly is needed.”

Emergency. When that word is used in conjunction with water, you know things are getting scary. Before Hurricane Katrina, there were few Americans who could ever conceive of an wide-scale emergency in which they would lack access to adequate drinking water. Then we watched as Louisiana and Mississippi water utilities failed in the face of broken pipes and the lack of electricity to run pumping and treatment facilities. Water everywhere, and not a drop to drink, literally.

What does it take, water-wise, to survive in a disaster? According to www.disasterstuff.com, you’ll need at least 1 gallon of water per person per day for at least 2 weeks, preferably for a month.

The website points out this sobering example: if a moderate to major earthquake hit Los Angeles, California today, and only half of the population lost access to water for two weeks, the governement would need to bring in 25,863,740 gallons of water over the two week period just to provide subsistance water. Twenty-five million gallons of water just to survive. That is 1,847,410 gallons of water a day over roadways that will surely be damaged by the earthquake.

This site (and many others) sell just about everything you could imagine for surviving in a disaster. This includes drinking water in boxes and pouches as well as bags and jugs for transporting water. The 4.2 oz. pouches are $20.16 for a case of 100; 8.5 oz. boxed water is $2.09 for a 3-pack. All have a shelf life of approximately 5 years.

It’s the same idea, really, as bottled water but these sure don’t have the same chic-style branding of their bottled cousins!