Water Adventure

Water Adventure is a project dedicated to investigate the drought situation in California and propose design solutions to make meaningful and long-lasting impact. By examine the environmentally impactful factors in the ecosystem, we were able to find leverage points in the system and imagine a better future of more sustainable water usage.

Drought in California

How's California been doing? Before we dive into the secondary research, Nathalia and I wanted to gain a basic understanding of how people think. We conducted an intercept interview in one of the most populated places in San Francisco, Westfield shopping mall, to ask for people's opinions.

Out of ten people that we interviewed, two people think that we're still in a drought. So what is the real situation?

California Drought Monitor

The figure below tells that over the years the drought seasons in California are becoming significantly longer and more extreme.

Palmer Drought Severity Index (PDSI), California, 1985–2013
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)

To find out the cause of the severe drought, we need to look at how the state municipalities deal with water.

Water Flows in California

We made a concept map to trace through how the water is collected, transferred, and used in California.

Know the types of water use is good, but how are we as individuals actually using the water? After looking at the water flow from the higher level, we went on to investigate where do people used the most water on and which types of water use it belongs to.

Nine out of ten people believe they used the most water in shower, while the other person thinks it's drinking. (......) We did secondary research further and explored the virtual water trade between the individuals and the related subjects in an ecosystem map.

It is very surprising to us that so many parts of our life need water, even including building the city infrastructure. The products that we consume everyday has a hidden water footprint and are involved with virtual water trades.

Water Footprint

The water footprint measures the amount of water used to produce each of the goods and services we use. It can be measured for a single process, such as growing rice, for a product, such as a pair of jeans, for the fuel we put in our car, or for an entire multi-national company.

Virtual Water Trade

As food and other products are traded (especially internationally), their water footprint follows them in the form of virtual water. This allows us to link the water footprint of production to the water footprint of consumption, wherever they occur.


Another thing worth noticing is how multi-dimensional our water usage could be on a single type of product. Take clothes for example, we are aware that the they went through the production line in the factories but are less aware of the fact that they were made of cotton, which was grown on the agricultural lands.