Audio Slide Show: Next-Gen Water Infrastructure

Take a tour of Seattle’s ingenious and locally inspired solutions to the city’s aging water infrastructure with its surprisingly artistic and affordable neighborhood stormwater projects and efforts to reduce water consumption. A top-notch reporter on all things water, Cynthia Barnett discusses these projects as well as others around the nation.

This slide show is part of Orion‘s Reimagining Infrastructure series.


  1. Great article by Cynthia on Water Works but not sure why Philadelphia was not more fully featured, as THE pioneer in this work and history of the National Historic Landmark Fairmount Water Works on Schuylkill River banks. Also, the credit line on the opening photo was missing the name of the Springside School in the Chestnut Hill neighborhood and no mention of the artist, Stacy Levy, whose artwork appears on the face of that building.
    Given the quality of Orion magazine it is disappointing these details were omitted.
    In fact, several years ago, Orion Afield did a short story on the Fairmount Water Works Interpretive Center and promised to come back to do a full blown story for Orion Magazine. Perhaps that time has come. As a long-time subscriber, I would be happy to advance that idea.
    Cynthia, please call me at 215-287-4479 to discuss this opportunity.
    Ursula Reed
    FWWIC Development Consultant

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Ursula. Stacy Levy was credited on p. 19 for the image on p. 16, but in terms of mentioning the name of the school, yes, this topic is so deep and broad that a magazine essay can’t do it all justice…a book could be written about the many great ideas and projects like these in use or under development. I’ll pass your offer to learn more about your own in Philly on to Cynthia, and thanks again.


  3. Hi, Ursula, and thanks for your feedback. Indeed Philadelphia has been a great pioneer for green infrastructure. I interviewed Howard Neukrug about the Green City Clean Waters project in 2010 and Philly has been featured in numerous national articles since then, including Time. When we were conceiving this piece for Orion, we thought it was important to highlight some of the inspirational stories coming out of other parts of the country too. Will definitely keep watching Philly’s water innovations. In the meantime feel free to send your H20 story ideas my way, to
    Thanks again, Cynthia.

  4. Good summary, but it is revisionist history to state the “neighborhood came together in Belltown, Seattle”. The heart and soul artist of Belltown, Buster Simpson, is pictured in the blue rain coat. When only the homeless and Seattle grunge bands cared about Belltown in the late 70s and 80s, Simpson started challenging the relationship between the environment and the infrastructure. Look him up. To many projects to mention that led to the city changes the infrastructure standards. His work includes the blue rain barrel and planted downspouts in the video.

  5. Green infrastructure can contribute towards a sustainable economy. The need to maintain and ensure a sustainable economy has been at the forefront of many landscape planning policies and decisions

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