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Water is the chemical matrix required for life, the molecular chain that connects all organisms on this planet. Today the Earth’s water–transportation conduit, industrial feedstock, agricultural necessity–is coming under new pressures. From the nano (eg, the migration of pharmaceutical molecules through the hydrological system) to the macro (a ballooning global population combined with climate change means intensified competition for this already scarce resource), water is at risk.

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Introduction to ‘Water’

By John Knechtel

After years of living in the core of this metropolis I moved to the lakeshore, and only then did I begin to properly understand Toronto as a water city. From the balcony of my sixth-floor apartment I can observe thousands of cubic kilometers of shore and water and sky. Standing here, I become an accidental hydrologist in my own small research station. On sunny days, when the water is brushed by wind and cloud, the lake peacocks bright cobalts and ceruleans, streaked with slate and deep azure. There are days when masses of cumulonimbus conquer the city from the southwest, drenching my world as they pass. Then there are the silent days when the clouds enclose my balcony in a soft wadding of mizzled French gray. And on very rare days, when the first bitter winter winds hit the warm lake water, hundreds of vapor plumes shoot up high above the surface.

Select features from ‘Water’

The Waters of Metaphysics

By Timothy Stock

The oceans of the earth feed the clouds, the clouds precipitate and freeze, and the...


The Public Bath and the City

By Christie Pearson

Imagining the city as an enclave of constructed civility always entails a contrasting backdrop of...