New York's Dirtiest Water, Now Conveniently Drinkable

New Yorkers have some of the cleanest water in the world to drink, in contrast to people in most of the world. What happens when you give them access to some less-than-clean water?

Most places in the U.S. have relatively clean drinking water, but dirty water still looms everywhere. And in developing countries, clean water is not nearly as easy to find; 884 million people around the world lack access to clean water, and 3.6 million people die each year from water-related diseases. What better way to highlight this fact on World Water Day than by giving New York City residents, who have access to some of the cleanest water in the country, the opportunity to drink the really, really dirty stuff?

Early this morning, employees of ad agency DDB put cup dispensers next to pipes that are releasing some of the dirtiest water in the city. "We were looking for places where water outlets were pumped out into the streetscape," explains Matt Eastwood, Chief Creative Officer of DDB NY. Want some delicious water leaking from a subway ceiling? Now you can get a whole cupful.

The dispensers—there are 10 in total— are located in high-traffic areas throughout New York City. One of the dispensers, for example, is located inside the Bergen St. F/G subway stop in Brooklyn.

As you can see in the video above, each cup contains a fact about water (one says "Unsafe drinking water kills more people than war") along with the web address for Water is Life, an organization that makes $10 reusable straws that filter dirty water.

The dispensers will be up all day. After that, they will remain until someone takes them down. There are no words of caution on the cups about actually drinking the water, so consider this your warning: Don’t drink it.

This was a pro-bono campaign for DDB. "It’s something that we are passionate about. I love doing work that can make the world a better place—it’s a nice change from selling burgers," says Eastwood. "I’m hoping that [people who discover the campaign] will go to waterislife.com and get involved in some way, or at the very least donate at their website."


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  • leanna

    Though I like the idea very much, I was thinking if they could create awareness around this issue without the use of disposable cups..but no doubt, the cups and dispenser make the whole thing look very real, and could actually make people think, "what if they really had to drink this water?" 

  • Carnike

    actually they don't drink from gutters or vending machines--i've worked for unicef and relief fund...they have wells and plumbing nearly everywhere, thought the water is highly polluted. I think both executions are good and valid for the cause. In regards to press, i'd say the machine does or did a better job. The cups seems too hidden to actually stop people intheir tracks...I think it's great with PR covering it, it needs it to get any attention. kudos to both.

  • Mike123

    People in third world countries don't drink from vending machines, but they do drink from gutters. 

  • jova

    this is pretty nice. reminds me a lot of that Dirty Water Vending Machine initiative i saw in NY streets. even the language and icons are the same, did the same agency do this?

  • Marie-pascale

    What a great concept- just watching the video makes me want to give these people money!

  • Bridget

    Using paper cups to educate othets on safe drinking water, interesting no one thought to educate these people on the use of disposable products.

  • Zman

    Zschmiez, people don't always see things as clearly. Like you don't realize what an ass your comment makes you sound like.

  • zschmiez

    They look like paper cups.  Last i checked paper cups are recyclable.

    Is your computer plugged into a solary array to comment on someone's social awareness project?  Didn't think so.