#poop2potable//Claire S Rennhack

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Course Description

Re-envisioning Water Cycles in the Sacramento Valley

Chronic water shortages affect all corners of the planet as the rate of water use grows twice as fast as the world population. It is estimated that about twenty percent of the world’s population lives with constant water shortage and that by 2025, “1.8 billion people will be living in countries or regions with an absolute water scarcity, and two-thirds of the world population could be under stress conditions.” This is especially apparent in California where the demands of a burgeoning population, the naturally arid climate and severe drought have made water scarcity a predominant issue that requires attention and action.

The immediate effects of California’s water shortage, caused in part by a minuscule snow pack, an ongoing drought, and increasing temperatures exacerbate strains on all aspects of water access. Currently, underground water reservoirs are being depleted without recharge in order to meet the water needs to sustain agriculture irrigation. While the importance of agriculture to the state of California and to the rest of the country is not in question, there is an imminent and critical need to challenge the way we use and consume water.

The long-standing practices of water treatment, potable consumption, and unabated usage are in dire need of reassessment and fundamental change. This thesis investigates a prototypical venture that marries complex elements of today’s water climate in the California Central Valley by proposing new networks and relationships that adjust the way we use water. The proposed design is a synthesis of sustainable agricultural water use and full cycle water treatment that promotes black water recycling; it suggests a prototypical model that could be replicated at larger scales throughout the Central Valley and in other localities that are economically, socially, and traditionally dependent on agriculture. The overarching goal of this thesis is to bring people closer to the water cycle, both natural and technological, by providing a place for positive spatial experience, intimate participation and education.