Up until the year 2000 (unless I misheard our tour guide), this was one of several consoles used to control the mechanics of the water filtration system at Hamilton’s Woodward Avenue Water Treatment Facility:
Hundreds of thousands of cubic metres of water travel through this facility daily, sourced from Lake Ontario and eventually distributed to the homes and businesses in the region.
In this particular building, water is contained in rows of massive tanks on either side of this surprisingly attractive corridor:
The old control panels are now just for show. Today’s routine water treatment functions, as well as the emergencies, are monitored and dealt with using sophisticated digital equipment.
Hanging in the corridor are a couple of circular dials that look like clocks, but aren’t. Here’s one:
I looked at this dial, then I looked at the vast amount of lake water filling the holding tanks to the brim. I thought about that water rising at a rate of 60 inches per minute. This instantly gave me the heebie-jeebies, likely due to my absurd and inexplicable longtime fear of overflowing bathtubs and/or toilets. Which then led me to more sobering thoughts about the folks in Quebec right now, forced out of their homes as they struggle to deal with large-scale flooding. And then of course to thoughts of the devastating floods of Hurricane Katrina and the Indian Ocean tsunami.
My overflowing bathroom fixtures are very, very small potatoes.
I looked at the simple lever labelled EMERGENCY, which, for some reason, reminded me of the sort of lever Wile E. Coyote would use during some ridiculous and unsuccessful ruse to capture the Road Runner.
I snapped a photo of the cartoon-ish emergency lever, reflecting on the fact that an “emergency” at this facility – never mind the flooding kind – could have the potential to make a lot of people very sick. I gave silent thanks to all the brains, hearts and hands involved in keeping this place running smoothly.
And, finally, somehow all of this led me to thoughts of this week’s theme for the WordPress Photo Challenge: Danger! (I apologize for the rather roundabout and perhaps obscure connection. Sometimes, much to the bafflement and frustration of those around me, that’s just how I roll).
If you’ve bothered to read this far – and if you have, thank you for your patience – you may be wondering why I chose to hang out at the water filtration facility. Last weekend, Hamilton was part of Ontario’s Doors Open program, a series of community events that offer free public access to some of the province’s unique historical and cultural spaces. Churches, art galleries, water filtration facilities, alpaca farms… you name it. Did I mention the events are free? Other than the access part, the free part is my favourite. There may be a future post or two based on our other visits (but don’t expect any alpacas, because we didn’t have time to make it to the farm, even if we’d wanted to).