Down the drain

Published: Wednesday 31 August 2005

-- The Running TapUK

After a month of controversy, legal wrangling and public debate, a tap squeaked off in a backroom kitchen in the House Gallery in South London, and has now become a running sore.

'The Running Tap' was meant to gush for a whole year, in protest against the millions of litres of water wasted by Londoners each day. The art exhibit, however, landed its creator Mark McGowan in hot water with the Thames Water Company, after it wasted 800,000 litres of water in a month. The company said they would prosecute if the tap was not turned off. "Calling it art is no excuse," a Thames Water spokesperson said.

Was McGowan's tap a tasteless publicity stunt in a chronically dry season in Britain, or a well-timed piece highlighting public indifference in the face of leaking pipes and wasted water? McGowan says Thames Water should practice what they preach. 915 million litres of water are lost per day due to their leaking and antiquated pipes, despite the company planning to replace 850 miles of Victorian drains over the next five years. Either way, McGowan's wasted water has attracted timely public attention to the problem in the driest season in the uk since 1976.

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