News & Politics

New Mural Celebrates City’s Tap Water


photo by Julie Bolcer

You may have heard Mayor Bloomberg sing the praises of New York City’s award-winning tap water as safe and delicious. Now, the secret ingredient behind our superior bagels and pizza — not that the Mayor would advise you eat so much fat — has its own towering testimonial in Brooklyn.

The “Water is the Life of New York City” mural was dedicated on Saturday in Park Slope at Fourth Avenue and Sackett Street. A collaboration of the Department of Environmental Protection and the Groundswell Community Mural Project, the 38-by-28- foot public art piece depicts the city’s water cycle, with its reservoirs, lakes, tunnels and aqueducts, in an effort to encourage people to conserve and protect drinking water. Hopefully, that’s not one of those dangerous polycarbonate bottles in the hands of the young, eco-conscious New Yorker depicted at the sink.

DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd explained to Runnin’ Scared the importance of conserving water now as insurance against anticipated future droughts.

“We’re in a slice of climate change right now that is quite wet,” she said. “But you can’t get conservation in 15 minutes.” Lest you insist on running the faucet while you brush your teeth, the Commissioner says, “Every time you use water it goes through waste treatment plants and that uses energy.”

DEP manages the city’s water supply, providing more than 1.1 billion gallons of water to nine million residents every day, and treating wastewater at 14 plants in the city. The agency also enforces the city’s noise code.

Groundswell Community Mural Project took seven weeks to complete the mural this summer, including research, prep and three weeks of painting on scaffolding. Fourteen neighborhood youth ages 14-21 worked with two lead artists, Nicole Schulman and Crystal Clarity. Groundswell has created over 100 murals with political messages across the city, most recently the provocative anti-military recruitment mural in Sunset Park.

The mural is located on a building next to a lot owned by DEP. According to a DEP spokeswoman, the lot will be the site of a shaft for the city’s Water Tunnel #3. In the works since 1970, the $6 billion, 60-mile tunnel is the largest capital construction project in the city’s history, scheduled for completion in 2020. More than 24 people have died in accident related to the construction of the tunnel, most of them the sandhogs who are depicted in part of the new mural.

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