Grandma's pool in Florida

Drinking a pool

While in Florida, I was mostly in Boynton Beach where the average elevation is just 15′ above sea level. A series of canals run in perpendicular lines behind housing developments and under roads. Fountains and ponds and other reminders of water are everywhere. One day, while bobbing around in the pool, I was thinking about how much water I’d consume over the course of my life – specifically, could I consume the full volume of water contained in the pool. I did some back of the envelope calculations, my favorite kind of calculations, and came up with an answer.

An area of Boynton Beach near my grandma's house. Look at all that blue!!
Volume of the pool
Here are some details about the pool:
  • Deep end is 6′
  • Shallow end is 3′
  • The pool was about 20′ wide, 40′ long
The average depth is 4.5 so it’s pretty easy to calculate the volume of the pool = 4.5′ * 20′ * 40′ = 3,600 cu ft or 26,929 gallons.
How much water I’ll likely consume in my lifetime

I figure between the water I drink and the water in the cooked food I eat that I consume about a gallon of fluids each day. I assumed that over the course of my life, for simplicity’s sake, that I have and will continue to take in that amount (I know I certainly drank less as a kid and will likely drink less as I get old). I also assumed that I’d live about 76 years (27,740 days), which is the average life expectancy for a male in the US. So over the course of my life, I’ll probably take in somewhere around 27,740 gallons of water.

While I’d be cutting it remarkably close, I’d consume just over 800 gallons more than the volume of that pool over the course of my lifetime! Neat.

Other useless questions: Could Vermont survive on nothing but sap?
Vermont produces about 1.3 million gallons of syrup a year, which is about 52 million gallons of sap. If, catastrophically, all of our fresh water (wells included) suddenly were contaminated, could Vermont’s population (626,000) drink nothing but sap each year? Not even close! With current maple syrup production, we’d only be able to support 142,465 people, just under a 23% of our population. Uh oh. Better keep our water clean!

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