I think this is a great creative example of how an ecosystem should be aware of its impact. In order for a system to adapt and amplify the benefits while dampening the harms it first needs to feel the pain of the harms. In too many current systems the harms are so far away that the consequences and pain is rarely felt by those making the decisions. In all seriousness, the situation on the left would genuinely be both a show of faith that the water supply was indeed drinkable and make sure that the people making the decisions were the first point of pain should any ‘harms’ develop.
I remember when I worked at English Nature that the best place to locate the water inlet for a factory on a river was downstream from their outlet.
Part of the benefit of taking a whole ecosystem view of things is to look at the flow of knowledge/information and connect those parts that need to make informed decisions. Very often there are no connections at all or blockages which when righted, like the one to our left (directly connecting decision maker to impact) allow the system to truly become aware and adaptable.
[Thanks to Linda Larson Kemp on Facebook for the image and for providing a constant stream of inspiring and intriguing material]