rapid prototype assemblage
My project is a critique on our country’s widespread use of combined sewer overflow pipes. As someone who has done a bit of research on this topic and typically designs alternatives and solutions to the unfortunate reality, I thought it important to bring to light the problems with the way we traditionally treat our stormwater.
As defined by the EPA, a combined sewer overflow (CSO) is a remnant of our country’s early infrastructure. Prior to reaching the level of urbanism we see today, communities built sewer systems that combine surface runoff with sanitary sewage in the same pipe. During dry weather, this combination of water is transported from the sewer pipe system directly to a water treatment facility. During storm events, however, the water is deposited into nearby natural waterways (rivers, lakes, streams).
Essentially, the problem is that we are dumping untreated stormwater, human waste, and toxic materials into our water.
This causes issues for both the wildlife that lives in these waterways (if you have ever heard of high mercury levels in shellfish/fish, this is why) and for us. CSO outflow pipes lead to the beaches and river banks we often take leisure on. The toxins and sediment in the water also has the potential to circle back to our drinking water.
These two points are what really drove my design process. Given that CSO’s lead to places we typically rest, relax, and play by, I chose to represent the tube-like form of a CSO as waterslide. My plan is to 3D print this tube, but its form could prove challenging to print cleanly. On one end of the waterslide is a found piece of PVC filled with found trash that would have otherwise ended up in the Olentangy. To emulate water, I plan on laser cutting pieces of black acrylic into teardrop/water droplet like shapes. On one of the water droplets at the beginning of the PVC pipe, I plan to engrave the word “CLEAN” to call to question the quality of the water we’re knowingly and willingly imposing on our waterways. On the other end of the slide is a child looking up to the sky with their mouth open, as if catching snowflakes. I chose to do this to further emphasize the danger of the CSO as it relates to play/leisure as well as consumption.
While CSO’s are in the process of being phased out in major cities, they are still in use today (there are actually signs along the Olentangy Trail alerting you of outflow pipes. Don’t touch the water in the Olentangy after it rains.)