American firm Choi + Shine Architects designed these conceptual electricity pylons shaped like human figures to march across the Icelandic landscape.
Go to dezeen for more info.
this is water.
All of my planning/transport geekfriends have been looking forward to this announcement today – to see who would win the insanely large $1.22 billion streetcar contract with the City of Toronto. Between German Siemens and Canadian Bombardier, the city made the (hopefully correct) protectionist decision. The design doesn’t totally wow me, but they’re still nice. Closer and closer to Back to the Future hovercars. Yarrr. Cause everyone wants a LO. RIDE. UHHH. duh nuh duh nuh.
I’ve been researching a lot into our various forms of energy – nuclear, hydro, coal, natural gas, and renewables of course. And the smart grid is abuzzbuzz.
Despite the Obama administration’s pledge of $11 billion to modernize the nation’s electric grid, the implementation of so-called “smart-grid” technology that would enable energy efficiency while bringing renewable energy sources online faces a number of hurdles, including an out-dated infrastructure beset by congestion and bottlenecks that constrain the expanded use of sources such as wind, solar and geothermal power.
So in short we can create renewable energy but we don’t have the technology of actually supplying people with this clean energy! Aaannnd it’ll be awhile before we can in most of the continent. I’ve also been looking at a benchmark report called “Renewable is Doable“, a pro-renewable (and more anti-nuclear than anti-fossil fuels) report on how Ontario can secure its energy future through conservation, hydro, wind/solar, with a small supplement of gas and coal. It’s funded by the Pembina Institute, WWF, David Suzuki Foundation, and Greenpeace.
Friend and future Prime Minister Darcy Higgins and I have been emailing back and forth and he sent me this document. I’m more pro-nuclear than him so we’ve been having some good discussions. I will undoubtedly post a big opinion on energy that no one will read, but at least I’ll feel good. Besides, the growth self-importance is the most obvious component of blogging to begin with.
And even more of course, with anything that goes on in the world Google has looked into it and is destroying all competition. First web search and email, then our entire earth and outer space, now hi-res energy monitoring! A big component to the very multi-tined smart grid is the two way communication of energy provider and energy consumer to supply the right amount of energy, thereby reducing excess energy waste.
Through one of my daily go-to sites Spacing Montreal, a blog all about local urban space, I was shown “Under Montreal” – a blog dedicated to the underground infrastructure of the city. Stormwater and wastewater sewers (evidently not as gross as we’d think), metro tunnels, the full gamet. It looks that with good gear, kinesthetically capable photographers, and leak-free waders, they can traverse most of Montreal’s ancient underworld.
Like many others out there, I am really fascinated with the worlds that are so close, taken for granted, and never seen – water infrastructure, waste management, public transit, stormwater management. Things that are so incredibly essential for the city machine. Things that we complain about when they’re not working optimally but forgotten the rest of the time. Us cityfolk are hard to please, cause you know, we’ve seen it all. I recently went to a week long conference looking at Montreal’s water infrastructure, and got immersed in source-to-tap water quality. Really fascinating.
Check out the site, get a history and an engineering lesson ensemble.
Check out a neat map of subway use and traffic of major cities around the US/world. Blue shadowpeople represent the number of citizens in millions (top x axis), subway cars represent cumulative length of all subway lines (bottom x axis). Info on each system is on the right. Click to enlarge. Too easy. Via digg.
“Ten water-main breaks – including five over the weekend alone – caused traffic headaches and basement flooding in Montreal over the past seven days and the city is bracing for even more ruptures when frigid temperatures set in this week.”
I went to a week long workshop late last year that discussed all water resource issues surrounding the city of Montreal. Water infrastructure and treatment were the two primary areas of discussion. Although mains and distribution lines have been initially built at various times throughout Montreal’s history, they are all set to expire around 2020-2025. This means that by then, Montreal will more or less have to replace the entire city with new water distribution infrastructure. Multi-million-if-not-verging-on-billion dollar projects coming up for the city. And knowing how much longer construction projects take than one thinks, we can only imagine how long this will actually take.
Hopefully this time around, Montreal will be able to improve on their significant lead problem with all of these new pipes. The good news for Montrealers is that the source of their water (from the St. Lawrence) is of surprisingly high quality. With new distribution systems, there should be no reason for people to complain about what’s coming out of their tap.
I was in Waterloo finishing up field work for my Master’s two weeks ago, and last week was busy at a Canadian Water Network workshop which examined Montreal’s water infrastructure. Maybe not as exciting as Matt Damon, but for water geeks it was heavenly. Students and young professionals all across Canada coming from various disciplines (water policy and governance, water microbiologists, geochemists, hydrogeologists comme moi, groundwater modellers, civil and environmental engineers, etc.), great discussion, and behind the scenes tours at drinking water and wastewater treatment plants. They approached their water issues the holistic way – from source to tap. Thus we cover source water quality in the St. Lawrence, drinking water treatment, the urban water distribution system, and wastewater treatment.
The one thing I always remember from urban water is how much intelligence, design, science, time, and taxpayer money is required for people to be able to turn on a tap and flush their 1s and 2s with utmost convenience. Just remember kids – what comes in must come out. Everything. Your advil, your birth control, your pet gerbil, industrial pollutants, your undercooked Indian food, and your toxic cosmetics all makes its way into our water system. And you bitch about the water tasting a tiny bit chloriney. Don’t know about you, but I’d rather taste a bit of swimming pool than bits of swimming stool. Pun over. But don’t you think it’s a feat of human technology that we can drink safe water given all the literal shit we throw into our urban systems? Everyone is guilty of forgetting what happens to their waste after it leaves the toilet or the sidewalk, but remember the world is dealing with your easy disposals!
On a related note, this all comes down to ensuring people have great water quality at the tap. I won’t rant on imported water bottling, but regardless of your thoughts, it’s an extremely unsustainable activity, and its life will be finite. As a city dweller, one must understand and appreciate municipal water supply.
Here’s a great video of Montreal’s wastewater treatment systems. Thank you civil engineeers for having the know-how to truly allow cities to happen. Without them, treating drinking water and waste water to millions of people simultaneously would simply be impossible. It’s really not sexy, but neither is gastroenteritis.