A cool clear glass of water

Object of the Month: 02/2009

What is it?:

A cool glass of ice water.


The Mississippi River

Where was it collected:

The kitchen sink.

A cool glass of ice water
A cool glass of ice waterCourtesy SMM

A storm passes over northern Minnesota. Rainwater drips from pine needles and seeps through the soil of the forest floor to percolate from a stream bank into the cold, rushing water.

Thick with sediment, the stream splashes and tumbles beneath dark branches, until it breaks free from the trees and empties into the calm waters of Lake Itasca. Between lily pads and stands of wild rice, the earth settles from the water.

The storm rolls slowly on, and the sun shines down on the water as it laps over a rocky dam at the lake’s north end, trickling into the Mississippi River, where it begins an arching, three-hundred-mile journey to the Saint Paul water intake. Powerful pumps pull the water from the river, and move it through clean, suburban lakes, past swimming beaches and fishing piers.

A treatment plant draws the water from the living lakes, to be aerated, clarified, filtered, fortified and disinfected, before being pumped through miles of pipes, into hundred-foot-tall towers, so that it can flow downtown, into the Science Museum of Minnesota, into a kitchen sink, into a simple glass of water.