In 2006, prepaid water meters were installed in the Soweto township of Phiri in Johannesburg. The residents protested, saying that water is a human right, not a commodity. In 2008, the Johannesburg High Court declared the prepaid water meters unlawful and ordered the city to supply Phiri residents with 50 litres of water per person per day. The case went through two appeals, and in 2009, the Constitutional Court of South Africa found the installation of the prepaid meters to be lawful. The Phiri water case shows us the future that may await other urban communities who as yet do not live under water-stressed conditions. Water is the most precious resource in our century: without water, there is no life.
Marjetica Potrč (b. 1953) is an artist and architect based in Ljubljana, Slovenia. Potrč's interdisciplinary practice includes on-site projects, research, architectural case studies, and series of drawings. Her work documents and interprets contemporary architectural practices (in particular, with regard to energy infrastructure and water use) and the ways people live together.