One major strength - and vulnerability - in Vancouver is our water supply, which comes from two main reservoirs located in the mountains just north of the city. Each day, millions of gallons of water travel from the reservoirs below the city in a giant web. With an earthquake shaking the ground and potentially causing flooding, liquefaction, landslides and even tsunamis, this city infrastructure is at serious risk. If water mains break, entire neighbourhoods of Vancouver could be left without access to water or, equally dangerous, their water supply could be contaminated with bacteria. Any effect on our access to water would both 1. magnify the initial impact of the disaster and 2. prolong our recovery period.
Not to mention, Vancouver is a narrow peninsula surrounded by mountains and rivers, bordering the pacific ocean. The only way in or out of the city is via a bridge or tunnel. These transportation routes could be in critical state following an earthquake and will require seismic evaluations before they are opened for the transport of emergency supplies. With contaminated tap water and the inability to transport resources into the city, the government of British Columbia recommends that everyone prepare at least one gallon of water per day, for three days following a disaster.
However currently less than half of vancouverites have this amount stored.
Luckily, Vancouver, known locally as Raincouver, is just a three hours drive north of Seattle, with almost 50 inches of precipitation each year. Just to compare, Vancouver gets 160 rainy days per year, while Atlanta gets only 78. Some scientists project more intense rainfall brought about by climate change in the future. But we like to see a silver lining in this prognosis; so our design takes advantage of this situation.
Each NeighbourHub structure has a surface area of around 50 square feet and has the ability to collect 1,600 gallons of water in one year based on Vancouver’s average annual precipitation. Once rainwater is collected from the petal-like features of the structure it is filtered to drinking standards through multiple particle filtration systems including two charcoal filters and a low energy UV filter.
Rainwater collected is then stored in a 1500 gallon earthquake-resistant cistern is located underground and entirely independent of the city’s water mains. The structure’s storage tank contains a opening to allow stewards to easily replenish the tank and address any maintenance needs. Also included within the water components is a first flush system to avoid overflow in the case that the tank reaches maximum capacity.
For the 72 hours following an initial disaster event, a full NeighbourHub cistern has the capacity to provide 1 gallon per day to over 400 people, or a quarter gallon (32 oz) a day to over 1,800 people.