water is communication
international watercampaign with firehydrants

Wasser ist Kommunikation

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Water is communication
International Water hydrants campaign

Panta Rhei - everything flows -

The historical development of civilizations and the building of water systems are closely linked. In ancient Egypt there are many indications of water channels, and businesses of antiquity flourished more in the vicinity of large rivers such as the Euphrates, Tigris and Nile than elsewhere. The rivers served not only as trade routes and natural boundaries, they also encouraged early agricultural development and the keeping of livestock.

Since the time of Plato, water has been known as the fourth element, next to fire, earth and air. In ancient China, water is recognized as an element of the winter alongside wood, fire, earth and metal and plays an important role. Water pipes as aqueducts are found not only among the Romans, but also in the high cultures of Central and South America.

All of the major cities of the middle ages in Europe were first established on rivers that were also their lifeline and protection. With the construction of ports they also allowed the secure exchange of goods and the collection of duties, this was led by the rising Hanseatic cities of Hamburg and Lübeck.

Water as a form of early warning system helped save Vienna in 1529 during the Turkish invasion, by filling bowls with water that vibrated with the movement of troops, the inhabitants were given advanced warning of attack.

The construction of camps by the first settlers in North America near a water source provided the basis for the later founding of many American cities; even today you can find houses in southern Europe with an inside well.

The village pond, town centre and market place have disappeared in many places today, but Gerresheim market for example, or the square in Düsseldorf at the public pumping station show the historical Importance of these early "marketing" places.

Water is the subject of many folk stories, proverbs, and tales in literature notably about the pitcher that continues to take from the well until the moment it breaks, the tale of the frog prince, or the ferryman Vaseduva from Hermann Hesse.

In recent times, these old historic cities have all built up a system of fire stations and fire hydrants to combat the dangers; they understand only too well that fires destroy the property and the belongings of the inhabitants.

On the initiative of Wolfgang Wimhöfer, today unused fire hydrants in the Düsseldorf harbour are listed and are retained for future generations, because: “It is important for the city and its residents and for the development of working and production conditions” (Rheinische Conservation Office).

If there is a fire then having it extinguished is part of our democratic right, this right exists even in totalitarian regimes. In New York hydrants are opened on hot summer days, and in Beijing, no one gets a bill if the fire department extinguishes the fire in their burning house.

As the end point of the water network hydrants are synonymous with the World Wide Web (www). As the internet users today are connected by pipelines and communicate with each other, so are the hydrants and the water pipes connected. Both are available for flow, synergy and democracy. Due to their visibility, they are symbols of a global, cross-border communication. They speak a common language that is universally understood, and are a protection and assistance in times of need and as Aquarians, are user friendly.

You are invited to participate in a voluntary understanding of this issue in an international campaign to water hydrants. Send a photo of the fire hydrants in front of your house from your town, your journeys etc. as *. jpg or *. gif file to: Contact Also, be sure to record the location and date of your picture. Your photos will covered under normal conditions concerning use of published material and copyright of submitted photos will of course remain with you.

The goal of this campaign is to make people aware of water as a resource and to open a related social debate; in addition a transfer of knowledge about water and individual responsibility and in dealing with water as in the example proposed by fire hydrants.

Wolfgang Wimhöfer, Düsseldorf October, 2010

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Historic monuments by Monika Baumann, Düsseldorf. Portrait by gelhausen/bild. © Wolfgang Wimhöfer