Friday, July 16, 2010

why we shouldn't be afraid of a terrorist attack on our water system


How recently did we start sweating the security of our water supply?

In the past certain amount of years our arm hairs have begun perking to the tune of a different threat: a terrorist attack on our water supply and treatment systems. In terms of instilling widespread fear, the idea isn't bad - even in the post-9/11 world some of could still say "I don't fly, I don't live in New York, I don't work in a tall building - I'm still good, chillin at personal threat level green". But no one besides the ascetics and those aliens from M. Night's Signs can say "I don't drink water."

Water terrorism - not bad in theory. But in an attack on our roman aqueduct equivalents Al Qaeda would be overlooking two important realities.

First, we don't drink tap water. For years now it's been Fiji or Smart water only. Second and more seriously, in large part due to our (the U.S.') culture of affluence and imperial materialism we have unwittingly grown a vigorous water terrorism defense system: swimming pools, lots and lots of them.

I did some rough estimating (see the rough appendix), to find that the United States population could drink comfortably for 720 days using just the water from the 10 million private swimming pools across the United States. The expanse of our deep end gives us some breathing room.

I figure that with a 2 year cushion, we would be able to fix whatever damage the hypothetical attack had done. The government would just have to eminent domain everybody's pools and pool toys to avoid a russian revolution type attack on the pool-laden.

So, here's whats left: as long as we stop peeing in our pools, we should be fine - back down to threat level orange, boys.

Rough Appendix:
There are 10 million swimming pools in U.S. with an average of 13,000 gallons of water in each. There are around 300 million people in the U.S., and each one of us drinks close to .6 gallons of water each day. Multiply pools by gallons to get total water in pools, and mult people by gallons drunk per person to get total water drunk in the U.S. per day. Then divide the two to get 720 days of water supply in our pools. and you don't stop.

1 comment:

zach gerstein said...

If we can't pee in our pools then the terrorists have won. Simple as that. As Americans its our right, nay our duty, to pee wherever and whenever we want (see Bay to Breakers SF).

Now if we can commercialize the same sort of water filtration system used by Kevin Costner in Waterworld then I'd consider ourselves on the way to a green economy.