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AM Inspiration: Sudden Summer Streams - Kids and Water

How many of your summer memories involve water? Whether splashing in a hydrant (what poet Marilyn Singer called the "sudden summer stream . . . the stubby hydrant brings to the city child") or in a sprinkler, kids love playing in a jet of water. Unfortunately, this simple pleasure can come at a high price: an open hydrant can waste up to 1000 gallons of water a minute and a lawn sprinkler will use an average of 240 gallons an hour. Read about the nyc:uncapped project, started by architect Adrienne Cortez, who grasped that a neighborhood's open hydrants were directly correlated with the lack of cool, green space. Finding some compromise to gushing hydrants is imperative, she decided upon considering the waste:

It is estimated that the average person will consume about 7,000 gallons of water in their lifetime. At 1,000 gallons per minute, an open hydrant will have spent the entire lifetime supply of drinking water for two people in just 15 minutes. The water loss is staggering, particularly when you consider that hydrants typically remain open for much longer.

A hydrant cap still allows for a cooling spray but at a much lower flow. These caps are now available at New York City firehouses; opening a hydrant without them can result in a fine. The nyc:uncapped project also has some interesting ideas for a longer-term "uncapping" of New York's less-green neighborhoods--a vision that includes many more trees and more sustainable relaxation spaces.

For those with kids itching to get outside and get wet, the Lighter Footstep has some tips for keeping kids cool this summer while modeling good water conservation behavior. Consider a kiddie pool, which uses a fixed amount of water, or turn the sprinkler on an area of the lawn that needs watering so you can get double use out of the water.

The joy that kids get out of water is something natural, almost primordial, perhaps sprung from deep memory like this poem by Wendell Berry.

Water by Wendell Berry

I was born in a drouth year. That summer

my mother waited in the house, enclosed

in the sun and the dry ceaseless wind,

for the men to come back in the evenings,

bringing water from a distant spring.

veins of leaves ran dry, roots shrank.

And all my life I have dreaded the return

of that year, sure that it still is

somewhere, like a dead enemys soul.

Fear of dust in my mouth is always with me,

and I am the faithful husband of the rain,

I love the water of wells and springs

and the taste of roofs in the water of cisterns.

I am a dry man whose thirst is praise

of clouds, and whose mind is something of a cup.

My sweetness is to wake in the night

after days of dry heat, hearing the rain.

Tags: City, Community, Conservation, Hydrant, Lawn, New york, Sustainable, Water

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