tag: legislation


Water as a Common Good in Brussels

original article published in: Bridges over troubled waters, Crosstalks, VUB press, Brussels 2012, p223-231- "L'eau comme bien commun à Bruxelles", Dominique Nalpas & François Lebecq


The era in which we are living seems to leave us ever more fasci­nated with technology, this great human endeavor that has the power to free us from the yoke of nature or that makes human beings an extension of the creator. And yet, with water, we seem to maintain an astonishing relationship: we project on water a desire, an ideal of purity and natural virginity far removed from technical complications and other social contamination. We could be tempted to say, “Cover these impure waters so that we may not see them,” to paraphrase the famous repost of Tartuffe to Dorine. In reality, the clear, pure water that apparently arrives so naturally and drinkable in the heart of the city only comes at the cost of increasingly sophisticated and expensive technology. Water is a hairy1 object that is tightly woven into social, environmental, economic, and political complexity.

In fact, water has been invisible in our city for a long time. It is a black stain on our urban development policy, repulsed by our imaginations and our concerns as citizens. And like many other elements that we don’t want to see realistically, it risks resurfacing, like the return of the repulsed, to manifest itself ever more painfully from crisis to crisis. Which is why the headlong rush towards more technology – in the name of progress – resolves some questions while posing more, and never exhausts the need to render the management of this precious resource more visible and more conscious, therefore more collective, more common... Let’s say it another way: technology and society can only exist in a complex combination of integrated interdependence. Water, like climate, is a fact of nature, but also a social, economic and political fact that merits better understanding if we wish to keep it as a common good.

Histories of aristocratic, public or democratic water?

Article by Michel Bastin

In 1830, the City of Brussels ­attempted to put a completely new hydraulic steam engine to use, intended to feed an urban system for drinking water distribution. The machine, conceived by Teichmann, the city’s engineer, was positioned on the bank of the Etterbeek pond, at the bottom of the chaussée de Wavre. Water would be pumped to a reservoir positioned at the Keyenveld, close to the Porte de Namur. In the course of one of the first tests, one of the two cauldrons, badly tuned so it seemed, exploded... a few days later, Brussels would experience another explosion, politically this time: the revolution that would lead to Belgium’s ­independence.
Drinking rain water?

Through the development of the water point, our aims moved from creating just a meeting place, to test how far we could go in purifying urban water or even making it fit for human consumption. We started investigating drinking water standards (according to EU, WHO, ISO guidelines), probes, filter systems and measuring devices and forged alliances with chemist and DIY water-engineers.

Is Proper Water fit for human consumption? Guidelines, distribution and monopolies.
Constatations, contradictions and questions.
Eau Propre | Proper Water :: The BOOK

From digging for water to drinking rain

[Creative Coommons 3.0, Brussels, june 2013]

Ball This booklet recounts a 2 year journey from digging for own proper water to drinking rain water. In doing so it shares insights, but also very practical knowledge about filtering water, as well as objects that will be available (also for others) to use like the "ProperWaterPavilion", the "Pacco-test" or the "City Mine(d) TAP".
Many individuals and collectives played a crucial part in the story, because they illustrate the crucial role of social relations in interventions in public space.
Three authors with a long track re-cord in water related activities, describe the past (Michel Bastin - Etats Généraux de l'Eau à Bruxelles, Maelbeek dans Tout ses Etats) and the future (Dominique Nalpas and François Lebecq - EGEB) of water in Brussels. A description of collapsing infrastructure illustrates their points.
The booklet is not the end point of the journey. Because different parts continue, it is more a stop along the way, and by putting it in writing a way of sharing the experience and opening the debate to a wider group.

Available online in our
boutique, at City Mine(d) offices or in Brussels Bookshops (Maelström, Passa Porta, Sterling Books, Tropismes, Wiels Bookshop, ...)

265 pages, bound, 17cm x 11cm x 1cm, Fr-Nl-Eng

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Eau Propre | Proper Water by City Mine(d)
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