Aigües de Barcelona and Citycise graffiti sewage covers around Barcelona with the artist Jorge Ochagavía.
In Barcelona it all started on a beautiful morning at the beach where around 60 volunteers during a sea cleanup removed more than 400 kg of mainly wipes from the water in less than 1 hour.
Astonished by the result of the cleanup, Susana F. Molina, founder of Citycise, a wikipedia of urban actions shaping a better city, came up with the idea of using graffiti to transform the sewage covers into marine species to show people that they are open windows to the ocean. 'We can't keep cleaning up the sea forever, we have to cut the problem from its roots', explained Susana. 'We have to stop fooling ourselves. When you see a plastic cotton bud at the beach, where do you think it is coming from?'.
The city of Barcelona also suffers the disruptions and blockages in the sewage system due to the flushing of wipes and other non-biodegradable items. According to the local sewage management company called Aigües de Barcelona, more than 4,400.000 kg of waste, 1.4 kg per inhabitant, are thrown annually into the toilet in the metropolitan area.
When the founder of Citycise presented the idea to Aigües de Barcelona, they were willing to embrace the initiative. Thanks to their support and the approval of various municipalities, Citycise has organized several WeloveWater art interventions at public spaces around Barcelona in collaboration with the artist Jorge Ochagavía.
He developed stencils in the form of marine species adjusted to the measurements of the sewage and drainage covers. The stencils made it easier to quickly paint the streets. He used water-based paint called Chalked by the brand Montana because it is easy to remove.
On June and September 2017 Jorge Ochagavía, with the help of volunteering employees of Aigües de Barcelona and activists at Citycise, sprayed the streets of Cornellá and Sant Adriá with turtles, crabs, squids and fishes adding the hashtag #WeloveWater - The WC is not a trash bin.
More than 100 covers were transformed into marine species.
The WeloveWater initiative was positively embraced by the neighbours, who became curious and gathered around the sprayers to ask questions about the wipe-flushing.
In 2018 Aigües de Barcelona partnered again with Citycise to keep raising awareness about the problem. Jorge Ochagavía developed new creations and painted beautiful mutated marines species coming out of the sewage covers on the floor. Aigües de Barcelona even supported an extra activity for kids.
We believe WeloveWater has been able to change the flushing habits of thousands of people on the streets and many more through sharing the art creations in social media. In Barcelona graffiti with stencils were used, however there are many other alternative art creations waiting to be discovered to send the same message: sewage is an open window to the ocean. Let’s see what comes next in other cities.
Art works by the artist Jorge Ochagavía.