Liquid Assets: A Review

7 12 2009

Trailer for Liquid Assets (Click Here if you don’t see it above)

Last week I ordered a copy of Liquid Assets from the WPSU media store and had a chance to watch it over the weekend. The documentary debuted Fall 2008 on public television stations across the country. It provides an informative overview of the issues facing our Nation’s water infrastructure and the need to address it. Through a series of interviews and helpful computer animations, the video examines the infrastructure for our drinking water, wastewater, and stormwater, primarily concentrating on the public health and economic development issues. The documentary is a sobering look at the great need to maintain or replace our aging water systems. It was able to capture the magnitude of the problems while offering hope by showing how cities are addressing the problem. Boston, Philadelphia, Milwaukee, Washington D.C., New York City, Pittsburgh, Herminie,PA, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, and Atlanta are profiled.

The audience for the documentary is not design and engineering professionals who are steeped in these issues and have a firm grasp on them. The video is intended for a general audience that may not have a thorough understanding of water issues. My seven year old daughter sat with me to watch it and surprisingly she lasted over an hour before getting bored. She seemed to take a lot of way from the portions she did watch. Some of the basics the video teaches people is what watersheds are, how we get our water, and what a combined sewer overflow is. As an entertaining tool for bringing the general public up to speed with the issues, the documentary is excellent. A complementary community outreach toolkit is provided on-line. This toolkit provides information on how to conduct public workshops in your city and facilitate discussions about water issues. In addition, the documentary is broken into chapters that address specific topics, allowing for groups to tailor it to specific needs within their community. However, I would highly recommended watching the entire 86 minutes. In context of the whole, the chapters are much stronger.

My only major disappointment was that green infrastructure was not addressed to any great depth. The Pittsburgh segment touched on it. The work of the Nine Mile Run Watershed Association was highlighted and concentrated on the Nine Mile Run Restoration. During this segment, there was some mention about street planting and rain barrels. Liquid Assets does however illustrate the issues green infrastructure can address within these troubled systems. This includes combined sewer overflows, protection of water sources, and non-point source water pollution.

Overall the video is a high quality documentary that can spur great discussions about the past, present, and future of our water system.

-Brian Phelps



%d bloggers like this: