The Designed Life – Part Four – Water


If you have clean water coming into your dwelling and dirty water going out with no mixture, you are a success. Never mind money or fame or love. Sanitation is the mark of achievement for any society.

If you live in a city that supplies clean drinking water, drink it. You need not buy it in plastic bottles from the grocery store. If you live in the country and can find a clean well or stream, test it and drink it. If you live in Adelaide, drink beer or motor oil…*

Likewise, if your local water authority has a sewage and drainage section and they take away what you no longer need, do not begrudge them the money they charge. They are doing more to keep you alive and healthy than your local doctor – and in the times and places where they cannot do this you are in deadly peril. You may elect to sit out bombings and bazookas but when the sewage is up, run for your life.

Your dwelling gets the clean stuff in a smaller pipe than is used for the waste. Be kind to the water meter and the piping – do not dig them up. Be modest and get taps for this that are not too complex or too elegant. The blandishments of the plumbing supply trade are very persuasive, but no-one needs the fountains of Rome to do the dishes. And no-one needs a glass trough shaped like a Volvo or a vulva to spit toothpaste into – remember that every magazine you see has award-winning taps and fittings. These awards are awarded by people who award awards but no-one gets a VC for a WC.

The WC, loo, bog, crapper, toilet, or Hoo Hoo, depending upon which tribe you belong to, is the key to not dying of typhoid fever in the summer months. Laugh it up if you want to Prince Albert, but that’s the truth. Most designs are somewhat fluid shape reflecting the somewhat fluid nature of the contents. Beware the Art Deco square edged ones with speed lines and nickel plating. Square edges mean increased wind resistance. And a back blast can be a hideous experience. It’ll leave scars that no-one wants to treat…

Japanese designs for toilets can be surprising to the western eye, as well as to other portions of the western anatomy. For a simple and frugal people used to the natural way of life, they can be extremely prissy. Toilet fixtures in a fancy Japanese hotel can include heated seats, scented bowls, surprising spray patterns, and devices that make music or bubbling spring sounds to cover the user’s noises…I tried all the controls on the one I used in Tokyo but did not find the button that masked the ” Holy Crap, I don’t remember eating that! ” sound which was possibly the most disturbing thing. At onstage of the game I wondered if one of the buttons would release yellow plastic ducks into the bowl.

Wild water is a problem for many households – keeping it out in winter is difficult if rains exceed the capacity of the gutters. Wise designers make these as big and open as possible, never mind what they look like. A big gutter looks a damn sight better just sitting there in the rain than a little cute one overflowing and directing it into the brick wall cavities. Catch it if you can, save it for whatever purpose you wish, be as conservative as you like, but keep it out of the roof space.

  • Many communities draw their water from lakes and catchment areas. Adelaide draws theirs from memory…

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