urban engineer transforms water tower into self-sufficient home, is better than you in every way


Written by: Jack Yang

Cameron Mayfield has been living off the grid for a year now. However, rather than living in some secluded lodge in the woods or agrarian collective, he’s made his home inside of an abandoned water tower.

This conspiracy theorist’s paradise is located a little ways into the suburbs and a hundred feet in the air. The inner chamber sports a series of catwalks that connect platforms dedicated for “sleeping,” “cooking,” and “leisure,” as per crude carvings on the metal walls.

“I’ve been up here for a year now, and life’s never been better!” boasts Mayfield. “It all started last December when I climbed up here to do the standard inspection on behalf of the City Water Authority. That’s when the ladder from the upper tank broke and I fell into the water, alongside my toolbag. I’m something of a survivalist myself, but being stranded in a metal tower was pretty daunting.”

We asked Mayfield what strategies he had developed to get by in the last few months. “Thankfully, I was able to pull apart the individual threads on my bag and tie them into a rope. Without that, I wouldn’t have been able to climb up these metal supports.

Furthermore, I’ve been able to turn the mold growing around the rim of the tank into a sort of biomass, too, which I can eat alongside the occasional rat. Water filtering is handled up here on the roof where evaporated water from below condenses and drips back into a pipe I’ve chewed into shape. Trivial stuff, really.

“I’m sure most people trapped in a tower would say something like, ‘Please save me! I’ve worn the same wet clothes for months and cry myself to sleep thinking about how my family never bothered to find where I was!’ But me? I’m a survivor! Going off the grid was the best decision I never made. This mold? It’s probably boosting my immune system. The calluses on my body are hard enough now to stop bullets. I do wish Mom would come visit now and then, though — to see how much more sustainable my home is, of course.”

His mother, however, shows a little less enthusiasm. “Oh for Christ’s sake,” says Mrs. Mayfield, Cameron’s mother. “Our little Cammy was always afraid of heights. Is he doing all this because I told him ‘going viral on YouTube’ wasn’t a real job? I was happy for him when he got a job with the city, but then he had to go and pull a stunt like this. Well, I’m in no rush to send help after the boy. At least this way he might build some character.”

The next step for Mayfield is to convince the City Water Authority to let him buy the water tower, which he has “diligently inspected” during his entire residency there.

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