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2006 And Finally Water News

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December, 2006

Sewers clogged with restaurant grease give UK's historic town of Windsor a bad smell

The solution is "fat traps." Special "fat-busting" devices have been installed under restaurants and bars to stop a historic town's sewers becoming clogged up with waste. Thames Water said it had launched the scheme after blocked sewers left "an unpleasant smell" around Windsor. Some of the blockages even led to raw sewage being forced above ground, flooding streets and gardens. The suitcase-sized "fat traps" under the sinks of restaurants, pubs and a hotel will be emptied every two weeks. Thames Water scientists will examine the contents of the traps to compare how much fat is produced by different types of restaurants. BBC News_ 12/22/06

New rubber lets the sweat out, and it may also desalinate your drinking water

Hazmat suits to protect against biological and chemical attacks are often made of thick, synthetic rubber that's impervious to the nastiest toxins. But they're also impervious to sweat, and people wearing them can typically only work for short periods before succumbing to exhaustion, heat stroke and, occasionally, death. Now, a joint team of scientists from the University of Colorado and private firm TDA Research have developed a breathable rubber suit made from butyl rubber impregnated with liquid-crystal molecules. Douglas Gin, a professor of chemistry at the University of Colorado and co-inventor Brian Elliot of TDA Research said another possible application of the breathable rubber is to purify salt water. "We've done lab single-salt mixtures and have been able to get the salt out as good as commercial desalination," Gin said. Gin and Elliot's work is published in the latest issue of the journal Advanced Materials.  Advanced Materials/Wired_ 12/8/06

Oregon State University students use manpower to purify water; contenders hope for win in international competition

Mechanical engineering students at Oregon State University didn’t have to worry about hitting the gym on a recent school night. Twenty four teams worked up a sweat pedaling bicycles and turning hand cranks to power water purification devices created for a design course. The challenge was inspired by the shortage of drinking water in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina. Stills such as the ones OSU students created would have allowed these residents to produce their own clean water, event organizers said. OSU will select two designs to enter into the regional competition in the spring, with hopes of progressing to the international round in fall 2007. OSU has taken first place at the regional level for the past 10 years, and won the international competition in 2001, assistant professor Ping Ge said. Albany Democrat-Herald_ 12/4/06

November, 2006

Unpaid water bill almost dried up town that turned Navarro County, Texas wet

The water is still running in this tiny town founded in 1972 to provide a home for alcohol sales in Navarro County. The town had faced the possibility that it could lose its water service Monday if residents didn't find a way to pay a $3,400 bill. Jay Mertz, president of the Angus Water Supply Corp. said the bill was paid Monday. Mertz declined to name who made the payment, the Corsicana Daily Sun reported. Without a property tax or residential water fees, the 40-person town of Mustang had relied on sales tax collected at the only two local businesses – a strip club and a bar – to pay its water bill. But a legal dispute stemming from the sale of the town last year has resulted in the closing of both businesses and left residents with the $3,400 water tab. AP/Dallas Morning News_ 11/20/06

Sick surfer delivered to UK water authority

Campaigners from Surfers Against Sewage (SAS) will deliver a sick surfer in a hospital bed to Northumbrian (UK) Water at 10:30am on Friday 17th November 2006 and call on the water company to withdraw their applications to turn off UV sewage treatment outside the bathing season at six sewage works in the region.  SAS are objecting on the grounds that water quality will be reduced, therefore increasing the risk of contracting a sewage related illness in a region highly popular with recreational water users.  Globalsurfernews_11/16/06

Latrene practices of Mideast Essene sect shortened the lives of the men who created the Dead Sea Scrolls

Following directions in the Dead Sea Scrolls, archeologists have found the latrines used by the sect that produced the scrolls, discovering that efforts to achieve ritual purity inadvertently exposed members to intestinal parasites that shortened their lives. The young male zealots who established their sect at Qumran chose a life of austerity and isolation, but they could not have foreseen the hardships created by their religiously imposed toilet practices, researchers reported in a paper appearing in the international journal Revue de Qumran. Had the toilet waste been dumped on the desert surface, as is the practice of Bedouins in the area, parasites would have quickly been killed by sunlight. But the Essene buried the waste, enabling parasites to persist for a year or longer, infecting anyone who walked through the soil. The situation was made worse by the fact that the Essenes had to pass through an immersion cistern, or miqvot, before returning to the settlement. The water would have served as a breeding ground for the parasites. Fewer than 6% of the men buried at Qumran survived to age 40. In contrast, cemeteries from the same period excavated at Jericho show that half the men lived beyond age 40. Los Angeles Times_ 11/14/06 (logon required)

November 5, 1913: Water from the Owens Valley reaches Southern California

It was n ine years after William Mulholland first saw the Owens River and five years after construction on Mulholland's aqueduct began. The project proceeded over the objections of valley residents who were convinced that Mulholland, head of Los Angeles' water department, would drain the river dry to nourish a city hundreds of miles away. Los Angeles Times_ 11/5/06 (logon required) Forty-thousand people were on hand in the San Fernando Valley to witness the long-awaited moment, The Times reported under the headline "Silver Torrent Crowns the City's Mighty Achievement."

October, 2006

Book review: English scientist John Snow bucked conventional ideas to discover cause of cholera

By the middle of the 19th century, London was the largest city in the world with two and half million people. It was also the foulest, with a woefully inadequate sewage system and 200,000 cesspools, many overflowing. The filth from both sources ended up in the Thames, which reeked of human excrement. One heat wave produced a stench so bad that newspapers dubbed it "The Big Stink," and said "whoso once inhales the stink can never forget it." Cholera, unknown in the city until the 19th century, became a recurring and horrifyingly deadly visitor. One outbreak killed 14,000 Londoners. It was no great leap for residents to put the two together. Bad air caused cholera. In his absorbing and beautifully crafted book "The Ghost Map," Steven Johnson tells how so many people could be so wrong for so long. Cholera is caused by the bacterium Vibrio cholerae. If several million of them get into your gut, you will quickly develop watery diarrhea and begin vomiting uncontrollably. You wake up healthy in the morning and die of cholera before the sun goes down. After much study, Snow hypothesized that cholera came from water -- not air. News Observer_ 10/29/06

On the trail of Wisconsin's icy past

Great white sheets of glacial ice commandeering land is the perpetual and age-old story of the North. The comings and goings of recent ice ages — the last one retreating from mid-North America 10,000 years ago — were rapid-fire Pleistocene calamities in the creaking eons of geologic time. Today, the aftereffects of all that drifting ice are revealed in landscapes from Montana to Maine, a ubiquitous mishmash of moraines, tussled stone, talus, deep valleys, lakes, rushing rivers, ridgelines and bedrock scraped bare. But in few places is the power of global climate change celebrated as it is in Wisconsin, where the Ice Age National Scenic Trail was established by Congress in 1980 to tell the story of the recent icy past via the educational medium of a hiking trail. When completed, the Ice Age Trail will snake more than 1,000 miles through the state, winding in and out of deep woods, tracking glacial features and connecting hundreds of trailheads from the shores of the Green Bay to the Minnesota border. New York Times_ 10/27/06 (logon required)

Study: Drink more water, lose more weight

Dieters who replace sugary drinks with water lose an extra 5 pounds a year, and those who drink a couple of more cups of water a day increase weight loss by 2 pounds a year, a study presented Tuesday at the annual meeting of the Obesity Society suggests. Most popular diet programs and books advise drinking plenty of water to aid digestion and to help reduce intake of sodas and other high-calorie drinks, but there haven't been many studies to back up the advice. "Drinking water can help you lose weight, partially because you are replacing some calories, and there may be additional reasons related to the total volume of water that we don't understand," says lead researcher Jodi Stookey of Children's Hospital and Oakland Research Institute in California. USA Today_ 10/24/06

Charges dropped against San Diego's 'water man'

David Ross was given a ticket for handing out bottled water to the homeless. The charges against him were dropped during a court hearing Monday morning, 10News reported. 10News first reported Ross’ story following his citation for violating a city ordinance that said no one is allowed to distribute food or water from public streets. KGTV 10_ 10/23/06


Bling Beverages, LLC is now marketing a swanky new bottled water called Bling H2O. The bottle's packaging is adorned with Swarovski crystals that spell out the product name, with each bottle selling for anywhere between $24.00 and $40.00. The water is being marketed to luxury buyers, obviously, and has appeared at various award shows where the likes of Paris Hilton and Jamie Foxx have been seen enjoying the beverage. Notice I didn't say "new beverage" because it's just water, for crying for out loud. Kevin G. Boyd, the Hollywood producer and writer who came up with the idea, is marketing the water to those who want to "do more than just quench their thirst." I'm not sure what else there is to do with water, unless he's suggesting people bathe in it, too. AdJab.com_ 10/9/06

Giant camel stops to drink from a spring in Syria 100,000 years ago and is ambushed by homo sapiens - or were they Neanderthals?

Swiss researchers have discovered the 100,000-year-old remains of a previously unknown giant camel species in central Syria. "This is a big discovery, a revolution in science,". Professor Jean-Marie Le Tensorer of the University of Basel told Reuters. "It was not known that the dromedary was present in the Middle East more than 10,000 years ago." A group of humans apparently killed the camel while it was drinking from a spring, said Tensorer, adding that 100,000-year-old human remains were discovered nearby at the once water-rich site in the desert steppe. Man has been present in what is now modern Syria for 1.5 million years. The area played a key role in the migration of the first human beings toward Asia and Europe, he said. Reuters_ 10/6/06

September, 2006

'Holy water' fails UK health tests
Muslims have been warned water supposedly drawn from a well in Mecca could have high levels of arsenic.

Trading Standards officers tested bottled Zamzam "holy water" at a number of outlets in the UK and some of them failed water quality tests.  Brian Johnson of Leicester Trading Standards said: "We found levels of nitrates at three times the legal limits and arsenic at twice the limit."  Shopkeeper Yunus Sidat said he has stopped selling the water at his shop.

Trading Standards officers said people couldn't be sure the water had come from Mecca.  "There is a demand during Ramadan because people like to break the fast with dates and Zamzam water," said Mr Sidat.  "I don't want to deal with something that is not really Zamzam water."  BBC News_9/27/06

How water won the West: Benjamin Eaton brought water to Pasadena, California, using technology his son later expanded to draw Owens Valley water to Los Angeles

"Eaton's Water," a 15-minute docudrama, is intended to make local history and the environment more interesting to sixth- and eighth-graders. In production for the last year, the film is a project of the Altadena Foothills Conservancy and the Pasadena Art Center College of Design. Sally Levi, a film student, directed it and wrote the screenplay. The conservancy plans to give copies to local schools and nonprofits. Benjamin Smith Eaton, a Los Angeles lawyer and engineer, was the mastermind behind the first iron-pipe pressure system that bought water to the arid Pasadena area in 1874. "This is how the West was won — in Pasadena," said Michele Zack, an Altadena historian who wrote the story upon which the film is based. Three decades after Eaton's accomplishment, his son, Fred, hatched a wildly ambitious plan to solve Los Angeles' water crisis: an aqueduct to divert water from the Owens River, 233 miles to the north. Fred Eaton served both as mayor and head of the city's water agency, along with water engineer William Mulholland. But the elder Eaton saw the future first. Los Angeles Times_ 9/24/06 (logon required)

'Water wars' loom, but none in past 4,500 years

With a steady stream of bleak predictions that "water wars" will be fought over dwindling supplies in the 21st century, battles between two Sumerian city-states 4,500 years ago seem to set a worrying precedent. But the good news, many experts say, is that the conflict between Lagash and Umma over irrigation rights in what is now Iraq was the last time two states went to war over water. Down the centuries since then, international rivals sharing waters such as the Jordan River, the Nile, the Ganges or the Parana have generally favoured cooperation over conflict. Since the war between Lagash and Umma, recorded on a stone carving showing vultures flying off with the heads of defeated Umma warriors, no wars have been fought and 3,600 international water treaties have been signed, said Aaron Wolf, a professor at Oregon State University. Mail & Guardian_ 9/18/06

Malawi capital pins water hopes on Madonna

Pop diva Madonna has decided to extend her charity work in Malawi to the country's water supply when she visits next month to set up an orphan care center in the southern African country, local officials said. Expectations are running high in Malawi, an impoverished country dependent on tobacco exports, as Madonna prepares to join a flood of stars searching for a good cause in the world's poorest continent. The advance party preparing her first visit to Africa was shocked to see young girls in the capital Lilongwe walking long distances with buckets of water balanced on their heads. "Her team immediately pledged to support any government initiatives to improve access to water points," Adrina Michiela, principal secretary in Malawi's Ministry of Women and Child Development told Reuters. Reuters_ 9/15/06

Court backs man who sold donated water
A convenience store owner convicted of selling donated water intended for hurricane victims committed no crime and should be released from probation, an appeals court ruled.  Last year, a judge found Salah Darwish guilty of cheating by false pretenses for selling bottled water that had been distributed free at a Hurricane Charley relief center in 2004.  But the 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled Wednesday that the charge was unproven because Darwish didn't clearly lie to officials at the distribution center about what he was going to do with the water.  The court noted that Darwish wasn't required to state how he planned to use the water and did not do so.  At one point when picking up water, Darwish laughed and told a firefighter that, "it's not like I'm going to sell it out of my store," the court said. But it added the timing of the comment was vague and that prosecutors failed to show that the statement induced the firefighter to give him the water.  "In this case, we expect that many people would find Mr. Darwish's conduct to be offensive from an ethical point of view," the three-judge panel wrote. "But the question before us is not one of morality."  Yahoo News_9/14/06

August, 2006

Counting flushes: In suburban New York, a 'water witch' guards her water well

Living with a well had not seemed to be a major adjustment to my husband and me, both raised blissfully unaware on the bounties of “town water.” Like most Americans — wallowing through 100 gallons a day per person, according to the Environmental Protection Agency — we had never turned on a faucet to find ... nothing. Water-quality tests and a house inspection had failed to disclose what Bill, a longtime E.M.T. to this 375-foot-deep wheezer, already knew: “Your well’s a stinker.” The yield: “Three gallons a minute on a good day.”

Nearly $2,000, a new pump and 400 feet of wire later, I splashed our precious, pricey water on salty tears and emerged a changed woman: the Water Witch, fierce guardian of the family’s aquatic reserves. New York Times_ 8/26/06 (logon required)

Midwest Airlines flight delayed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin over bottle of water

A Midwest Airlines plane bound for Kansas City returned from the runway to the gate because of a bottle of water. A flight attendant noticed a man with a bottle of water on Wednesday afternoon. He said he needed the water to take medicine, but the crew turned the plane around because of security rules. The crew later learned the Transportation Security Administration had allowed the man to bring the water on the plane, Midwest spokeswoman Carol Skonicka said. AP/USA Today_ 8/17/06

It's no urban myth. Never bathe or shower in a thunderstorm

The claim that taking a shower during a lightning storm can electrocute you is no old wives’ tale, experts say. The basis of the claim is that a bolt of lightning that hits a house or building — even one that is protected against severe weather — can travel through plumbing, into metal pipes, and shock anyone who comes into contact with a faucet or appliance. Metal pipes are not only excellent conductors of electricity, but they also carry tap water laden with impurities that help conduct electrical current. The odds of being harmed this way are extremely minute. But it is not unheard of. New York Times_ 8/15/06 (logon required)

Experts baffled by water-gurgling tree in San Antonio, Texas

Is it an artesian spring, a broken water pipe or an abandoned well? Lucille Pope's red oak tree has gurgled water for about three months, and experts can't seem to get to the root of the problem. Pope, 65, has sought answers from the Texas Forest Service, the Edwards Aquifer Authority and nurseries. They have taken pictures and conducted studies, but none have arrived at a firm answer. "I got a mystery tree," Pope said in Friday editions of the San Antonio-Express News. "What kind of mystery do I have where water comes out of a tree?" AP/San Antonio Express-News_ 8/12/06

Jay-Z, MTV announce documentary on global water crisis

Def Jam president Shawn "Jay-Z" Carter has partnered with MTV to create a documentary titled Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life, about the global water crisis. The legendary rapper, alongside MTV president Christina Norman, announced that he would make the documentary while traveling on his world tour. The television segment will "document his personal learning journey as he meets children and families who suffer daily and count among the more than one billion people worldwide who do not have access to safe drinking water." The Diary of Jay-Z: Water for Life is scheduled to premiere Nov. 24 on over 150 MTV channels and 50 local programming stations in over 179 countries. The network has also planned to offer free access to the documentary for use by teachers and librarians. Press Release/AllHipHop.com_ 8/9/06

Libya, D.C. resolve water dispute

Libya has settled a water bill dispute with the District of Columbia, which had refused service as the north African country reopened embassy properties in the city for the first time in 25 years. Michele Quander-Collins, a spokeswoman for the water authority, said only that the Libyan government agreed to pay a "nominal fee." AP/Houston Chronicle_ 8/9/06

D.C. refuses to turn on Libyan Embassy's water

Libya wants to reopen an embassy in the United States, but it can’t get the District of Columbia to turn on the water. The Libyan government sued the D.C. Water and Sewer Authority last week in federal court, demanding that the property’s water and sewer service be turned on. The lawsuit also asks for $1 million in damages, according to the Washington Times. At the heart of the dispute are more than $27,000 in outstanding water and sewer bills. The D.C. utility won’t provide water or sewer service until someone pays. MSNBC_ 8/8/06

July, 2006

Greenland brews beer using ice cap water

A Greenland brewery has something no other beermaker in the world has tabs on -- ale brewed on water at least 2,000 years old, melted from the giant Arctic island's vast and pure ice cap. And there is plenty of it. The first 66,000 liters (17,200 gallons) of a dark and a pale ale have just come out of Greenland Brewhouse. Greenland beer will target the Danish markets and also be sold in Greenland. AP/MSN_ 7/31/06

London commuter mugged for his bottled mineral water

As travellers on the London underground sweltered, Patrick McCrossan was forced to hand over a 40p bottle of Evian by a fellow commuter. Mr McCrossan, 45, of Stockwell, South London, said: “He saw me open the bottle and came up face to face and said, ‘I’m having that!’ and grabbed it. “He didn’t look ill or like he was suffering — he was menacing." The Sun_ 7/29/06

You knew it was just a matter of time ... Designer ice cubes are on the way

A handful of upstart businesses are hoping to persuade consumers, restaurants, airlines, hotels, hospitals and the military that they could be risking their health (and compromising good taste) by not buying prepackaged, upscale ice. The concept differs from the plastic bags of premade ice that can be purchased at most supermarkets and convenience stores. These new products are sealed cube trays filled with unfrozen spring or filtered water and marketed as better-tasting than tap water and safer than ice handled by humans. Icerocks, marketed as "secured spring water ice cubes," are set to hit the U.S. market in October. Four trays with slots for 12 cubes each will cost about $3.99. AquaICE sealed ice-cube trays -- containing purified municipal tap water in plain, lemon and lime flavors -- are already sold in a handful of Ohio stores. The product, made by aquaICE LLC of Dublin, Ohio, costs about $5 for 50 cubes. It remains to be seen whether enough consumers will find it palatable to fork over 10 cents for an ice cube when it costs nothing to freeze a similarly functioning product from tap water. Wall Street Journal/Charlotte Observer_ 7/26/06

Water-powered cellphones? Really?

We can tell you how to rescue a cellphone that's been dunked in the water, but it's a bit more difficult for us to explain how a cellphone can be powered by water. This fuel cell by Japan companies DoCoMo and Aquafairy can recharge a cellphone several times, and it's a quarter of the size and twice as powerful as the methanol fuel cell prototype presented by DoCoMo a year ago.  It's not exactly creating power out of water, but outputs its 2 watts by using Aquafairy's thin film power unit technology, a fuel cartridge that serves as a catalyst for turning water into hydrogen which runs the fuel cell. 7/19/06

In Denver, tough guys conserve water

Singing shorter songs in the shower or using plastic ice cubes just may help Denver conserve more water. That's the tongue-in-cheek focus of a new $500,000 advertising campaign by Denver Water urging consumers to continue their water-wise practices. It was designed by Denver agency Sukle Advertising & Design. Since 2002, Denver Water's 1.2 million local customers have reduced their water usage by about 20 percent per year. Denver Water also plans to distribute 20,000 drink coasters to local restaurants and bars. They'll offer water-conservation tips such as "Be a real man and dry shave, tough guy." Denver Post_ 7/13/06

Bottled water in meaty flavours? Dogs lap it up
Cool bottled water in three delicious flavours -- beef, chicken and bacon. Not tempted? Your dog will be.  An Australian man has taken pooch-pampering to the next level with the launch of Aqua Dog.  With one canine for every five Australians, the country has one of the world's highest dog ownership rates and a pet food industry worth Aus$1,2-billion ($890-million) a year.  Selling for nearly Aus$3 ($2,20) per bottle, the canine drink is more expensive than mineral water for humans. But in a nation of dog lovers, it is flying off the shelves.  Mail and Guardian_7/13/06

In Scotland, booze 'is cheaper than water'

Scotland's drugs and alcohol tsar, Tom Wood, was stunned to learn that bulk buyers could buy cans and bottles of popular brands for as little as 40p. Wood, chairman of the Scottish Association of Alcohol and Drug Action Teams, said: "I believe alcohol more than drugs represents the greatest threat to young people in Scotland." Daily Record_ 7/7/06

Washington, D.C. flooding to keep I.R.S. building shut

It will not give people an excuse for delaying any tax payments, but the Internal Revenue Service said Friday that flooding brought on by the heavy rains here this week would force it to keep its headquarters building closed for perhaps the next month. And the National Archives, which stores the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, will keep its main building shut until Wednesday at the earliest, as will the Justice Department. The deluge lasted nearly four days and caused damage totaling tens of millions of dollars to homes and businesses in the capital, Maryland and Virginia. Several people drowned in the floodwaters, and more than 2,000 were evacuated from their homes in Montgomery County, Md., just north of Washington. New York Times_ 7/1/06 (logon required)

June, 2006

Faces of missing persons featured on bottled water

Katy, Texas, water purification company Premier Bottled Water has a new product, Acqua Prima Bottled Water and a new idea. Each bottle features the face of a missing person and information about them, Meghan Palmer, wife of the company's owner and the person who came up with the idea. “Everyone drinks bottled water," she said. “It’s basically a new twist on an old idea.” The Palmers are looking for convenience stores, supermarkets, rest stops and public places such as amusement parks and zoos throughout the nation to sell their product.

Acqua Prima has teamed up with Texas EquuSearch, a search and recovery team for missing persons, and Crime Stoppers for the effort. A portion of all sales of the bottled water goes to Texas EquuSearch, Palmer said. Leavenworth Times_ 6/22/06

Summer's here!

Origami Water Bomb

Need a water balloon but got no balloon? Regular old paper and skills of a fold-ist will have you drenching your foes in no time, with style to boot.  Instructables.com_6/21/06

'60s band Standells sues Anheuser-Busch for more than $1 million over using song "Dirty Water" at Boston Red Sox games

The grungy tune blares at Fenway Park after every Red Sox victory and has become part of the winning soundtrack in baseball-crazy Massachusetts.The oldies rock-n-rollers, who wrote the 1966 hit song, filed a federal lawsuit that claims Anheuser-Busch used "Dirty Water" without permission in commercials to try to tap into the song's connection to the team. Anheuser-Busch Inc. said in a written statement Friday that it has yet to receive a copy of the lawsuit and will not comment until its reviews the complaint. The song is an ode to Boston and its once infamously polluted waterways. Boston Globe_ 6/9/06

Oom. Aquamantra: the bottled water that says 'You are what you think.'

At a time when many beverage companies are trying new ingredients to lure consumers to their products, Aquamantra Creator, Alexandra Teklak, is combining water and the power of positive thoughts. Instead of flavors, Aquamantra offers three water “mantras” to identify their current line: “I Am Healthy”; “I Am Loved”; “I Am Lucky." It's from California, of course. BevNet_ 6/7/06

May, 2006

Dastardly Duke cuts off water supply; Aristocrat shuts off village water leaving residents facing drought

Sire, the villagers are revolting, especially since you cut off their water supply... That's what could be uttered to an aristocrat who has told locals he will no longer provide them with water for their baths, showers, washing up or drinking.  The Duke of Somerset is cutting off his private supply to the village of Witham Friary, leaving people facing a severe drought this summer.  He wrote to the 300 residents to say he was "regrettably terminating" the centuries-old service because environment chiefs won't cough up the £90,000 to have the creaking system upgraded. Taps could run dry by June when three months notice is up.  Mirror.co_5/31/06

UK drought police: Don't send in the water clowns

Circus clowns have been warned to stop throwing water at each other or risk violating a drought order. The entertainers, who work for Zippo's Circus, typically get through 20 buckets of water during their slapstick "slosh" shows. The Telegraph_ 5/27/06

The Iceman Goeth: After 78 years, West Chester, Pennsylvania family stops delivering ice

Ralph B. Watson Jr. grew up in the ice business his father founded in 1928. As a youth, he delivered ice blocks in West Chester, hauling the blocks up steps, into customers’ kitchens and into the icebox as well as bringing bottled water to office buildings. In the 1940s, the company added bottled water to its deliveries. Now, nearing age 74, Watson says it's time to retire. And the venerable firm, Ralph B. Watson & Son, will be sold to a "friendly competitor." Daily Local_ 5/26/06

Arkansas mayor arrested in sex-for-water claims

A 72-year-old US mayor has been charged over claims he solicited sex from two women who fell behind with water bills. Troy Anderson, mayor of Waldron in Arkansas, is accused of seeking sex from the women in exchange for ensuring their water was not turned off. He was released on bond after being charged with abusing the public trust and patronising a prostitute. AP/BBC News_ 5/19/06

Federal agents raid home and office of CIA's ex-No. 3: Did it all begin with bottled water?

Dozens of federal agents Friday raided the home and office of the former third-ranking official of the CIA, escalating a criminal probe of his relationship to a San Diego-based defense contractor who has been linked to the bribery scandal surrounding former Rep. Randy "Duke" Cunningham. Former CIA Executive Director Kyle Dustin "Dusty" Foggo has been under investigation by the FBI and the CIA's inspector general because of suspicion that he steered agency contracts to a San Diego businessman and personal friend, Brent Wilkes. Foggo has denied that he engaged in any wrongdoing. He resigned from the agency Monday after a 25-year career. Companies run by Wilkes have won tens of millions of dollars in federal contracts in recent years. During his most recent assignment at a CIA base in Frankfurt, Germany, Foggo was responsible for delivering weapons and supplies to agency operatives in Afghanistan and Iraq. It was during his tenure in Frankfurt, when he was in position to award agency contracts, that Wilkes' company, Archer Logistics, won a contract worth an estimated $3 million to provide bottled water to CIA operatives in Iraq and Afghanistan. Los Angeles Times_ 5/13/06 (logon required)

Illusionist David Blaine fails in bid to break world record for holding his breath under water, while simultaneously escaping from heavy chains

He was pulled from his water-filled sphere in New York nearly two minutes short of his nine-minute goal. Divers entered the sphere, where Blaine, 33, had spent seven days being fed and breathing through tubes, to rescue him in front of spectators. The illusionist received medical treatment over the weekend after Blaine's spokesman, Pat Smith, said his peeling skin and overall condition was worrying doctors. The Houdini-inspired stunt was broadcast live on US television. The current world record for holding breath under water stands at eight minutes and 58 seconds. BBC News_ 5/8/06

Water candidate and his sweating army
It’s a mixture of skin, sweat and water which is causing quite a flutter in India's Avinashi constituency. Mohan Raj, nicknamed the ‘water candidate’, has the electorate here agog with his bare-bodied campaign. The candidate and his supporters have shed their shirts, vowing to wear them again only after a scheme for storing surplus water in the constituency, hanging fire since 1992, is implemented.  People turn and stare, children run behind the jeep and there are even catcalls. But the Federation for the Implementation of Avinashi-Athikadavu Ground Water Recharge Scheme means business.   The Indian Express_5/5/06

Magician David Blaine set for week under water

Take a deep breath. David Blaine's latest stunt is spending a week living in an 8-foot acrylic sphere filled with water. The 33-year-old magician, shirtless and with an oxygen tube in his mouth, slid into his snow globe-like "human aquarium" Monday at Lincoln Center. In a week, he will remove the device and attempt to hold his breath underwater longer than the record of 8 minutes, 58 seconds. The finale will air live in a two-hour ABC special, "David Blaine: Drowned Alive," on May 8 (8 p.m. EDT). AP/St. Louis Post-Dispatch_ 5/1/06

Robot runs over water like a lizard and one day may monitor water quality

The Water Runner, being developed by assistant professor Metin Sitti at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, could search for victims in flooded disaster areas, be equipped with biochemical sensors to monitor water quality, or use tiny cameras to survey coastline security zones or ports. Sitti, who also heads the university's NanoRobotics Lab, regularly takes inspiration from bugs, beetles, and bacteria to build his robots. Ultimately, he'd like to create a machine that can move over land, water, fly and perhaps even climb. Discovery Channel News_ 4/25/06

Water Walker - Anyone can do it!

Ron Johnson has made walking on water something way short of a miracle.  The local entrepreneur has invented the ABBA Water Walker, a tool expected to revolutionize water rescue by increasing speed. The walker will also be marketed for fun in the waterways.  Lifeguards at Daytona Beach will try a prototype of the Water Walker this summer. "It's a unique invention," said B.J. Fisher, director of the American Lifeguard Association, which endorses the invention for rescue. "It's excellent, especially for calm water rescues in bays and on lakefronts." Capable of speeds of up to 17 mph, the Water Walker can get the lifeguard to the victim quickly, an important factor in a water rescue, said Fisher. Boston.com_4/13/06

Oops! High-pressure water jets used to clean windows at UK water company that banned customers from using hoses during water shortage

Thames Water said the decision to use the high-pressure jets to clean windows on the building where it has offices were taken by its landlord. The firm has contacted the owners of Reading Bridge House in the Berkshire town urging them to use an alternative. Window-cleaning has stopped at the water company's own headquarters. A spokesman told the BBC News website use of the jets was "irresponsible and has put us in an embarrassing position". BBC News_ 4/11/06

Kenya: Nairobi water firm is thrown out of its city office

The Nairobi City Water and Sewerage company was thrown out of its offices by its landlord. The water company was on Wednesday ordered to vacate the City Hall Annex's mezzanine and first floors by the end of the month, said sources at the company. But the following day, the City Council moved into the offices and threw out the company's staff in the library, registry and cash offices. Efforts by the water company to negotiate an extension fell on deaf ears, said the source. Mayor Dick Wathika refused to comment on the eviction and calls to the town clerk John Gakuo were not returned since he and his deputy were said to be in meetings all day long. The water company is wholly owned by the Nairobi City Council and one employee wondered why "mother is frustrating daughter." The Nation/AllAfrica.com_ 4/8/06

March, 2006

Montana city cashing in on toxic water pit

Turning lemons into tourist lemonade, the Chamber of Commerce of Butte, Montana is charging admission to see one of America's largest bodies of toxic water. And people are paying.  The chamber launched a trial run last summer in the mining city, charging visitors $1 to gaze at the Berkeley Pit and its placid, gray water. There were enough people willing to pay that officials decided to charge again this year - doubling the price to $2.  The Berkeley Pit is a former copper mine that began filling in 1982 with drainage from closed mines. It now holds about 36 billion gallons of water laden with arsenic, copper, cadmium, cobalt, iron and zinc.

Admission fees brought in about $18,600 between June 15 and Sept. 30 last year. Some of the proceeds will go toward improvements intended to make the site even more attractive to tourists.  Seattle Post Intelligencer_3/30/06

Three weeks and counting: Can two goldfish survive in Los Angeles River Water?

A Los Angeles Times reporter with time on his hands set up an acquarium in the newsroom, filled it with Los Angeles River water and added two goldfish. How long can they survive? Watch the results. Los Angeles Times_ 3/27/06 (logon required)

Drilling for water in a hot volcano

Geologists in Iceland are drilling directly into the heart of a hot volcano. Their $20 million project hopes to reveal more about the nature of mid-ocean ridges where new ocean floor is created. Such boreholes could ultimately yield 10 times as much geothermal power as any previous project. At depth, the groundwater is way over 100C, but the pressure keeps it liquid. Iceland is unusual geologically in that it exists above the ocean at all. It stands on the mid-ocean ridge system, the longest mountain range on the planet. This range runs around the world's oceans like the seam on a tennis ball. It is here that new ocean floor is created as the continents drift apart. For the most part, it is deep under the sea; it is the place where hydrothermal vents and their "black smokers" belch out super-heated water and dissolved minerals. Later this year, scientists will put a pressure lining into their borehole and drill on down to more than 4km deep. At that depth, they hope to encounter what is called supercritical water: water that is not simply a mixture of steam and hot water but a single phase which can carry much more energy. BBC News_ 3/26/06

Pub ducks in UK get own wading pool
A children's paddling pool has been set up next to a pub in Nottingham city centre as a home for two nesting ducks. For the past few years the mallard couple have built their nest on top of Yates's Wine Lodge. But the fountains in the Old Market Square, which the pair normally frequent, is closed for repairs. BBC News_ 3/23/06

Thirst for water puts city on the slide – into the mud
Blighted by pollution and crime, Mexico City is facing another problem — it is sinking into the ground, and fast.

This megalopolis of 22 million people is falling at an alarming rate, dropping by as much as 15 inches (38cm) a year in some areas, and by almost 30 feet over the past 100 years. The rate of collapse has accelerated as city authorities pump water from subterranean aquifers to quench the thirst of the spiralling population, which attracts another 1,000 migrants from the provinces each day. When Hernándo Cortéz and his conquistadors first set eyes on Tenochtitilan — what would later become Mexico City — in 1519, the Aztec city was a maze of islands built on a shallow lake. Having defeated the Aztecs in battle, the Spaniards destroyed their pyramids and turned them into huge palaces and cathedrals, draining the lake for urban expansion. In the past 50 years, the population of the city has more than quadrupled. To keep up with demand, the city pumps 10,000 litres (2,200 gallons) of water per second out of the ground, hollowing out the subterranean lake that once kept the city in place.  TimesOnLine_3/17/06

'Creative plumbing' in Norway delivers beer

A woman said she thought she was in heaven when she turned on the kitchen tap to find a plentiful supply of beer. Haldis Gundersen was planning to do the washing up when she made the unusual discovery at her apartment in Kristiansund, west Norway. But two flights below, workers in a bar faced the more disappointing realisation that water was flowing from their beer taps. A worker had connected a beer barrel to the apartment water pipe by mistake. BBC News_ 3/13/06

Cor blimey! Green water in London's Trafalgar Square fountain to honor .... St. Patrick

Thousands of Londoners have taken to the streets for the fifth annual St Patrick's Day parade. Water in Trafalgar Square's fountains was dyed green for the day, Irish food was sampled in Covent Garden and a Ceilidh was performed in Leicester Square. Organisers say celebrations now rival those in New York, Boston and Chicago. BBS News_ 3/12/06

Birmingham, England, turns down request from Powys, Wales, to help finance water museum

The city council has refused to donate money towards the building in the Elan Valley to commemorate its flooding 101 years ago. It said it would provide no benefits to the people of Birmingham. Six reservoirs in Wales send 360 million gallons of water a day along a 70-mile pipeline to Birmingham and also to parts of south Powys and south Wales. To reflect this link, Community Arts Rhayader And District (Carad), the group behind the museum, had asked the Birmingham council for a donation towards its cost. Birmingham Council deputy leader Paul Tilsley said "the reservoirs were built over 100 years ago, but over 30 years ago the old Birmingham City Water Corporation was handed to Severn Trent and the city received no compensation. I think Severn Trent would be in a better position to make a contribution towards the museum." BBC News_ 3/10/06

False terrorist accusations alleged, including one against bottled water employe

A federal grand jury in Los Angeles has indicted two men in separate cases on charges that they falsely accused associates of planning terrorist acts in the United States. Juan Peter Delgado, 33, of Los Angeles was arrested Thursday morning by FBI agents for allegedly making a false threat two years ago that methamphetamine had been placed in Arrowhead bottled water by an employee of the company. The hoax, according to the U.S. attorney's office, was reported to Nestle Waters of North America, Arrowhead's parent company. The second, unrelated, case, involved a man who accused someone of selling illegal cigarettes to fund terrorist acts. In both cases, authorities allege, the suspects spawned the hoaxes to get back at people with whom they had had a falling out. The individuals, who were not identified by authorities, had no connection to terrorism, authorities said. Los Angeles Times_ 3/10/06 (logon required)

Water, tin and his father's legacy

Even by Southern California's standards, this is one strange water fight — a tale involving a father's legacy, a 69-year-old court settlement, carob trees and what may be the largest concentration of tin ore in North America. Near a reservoir serving 18 million Southern Californians, retired theatrical producer and violinist James Holmes is hoping to open a thriving tin mine. Water officials concede that Holmes, 76, owns the mineral rights to land around and under Lake Mathews, southwest of Riverside, but because of worries about the dam, asked him this week to stop work. Holmes refused and says he is after more than mineral wealth. He is "trying to see justice done for my father." Lawrence Holmes won the mineral rights to the property in 1937 when the Metropolitan Water District signed a legal settlement ending what was then the longest litigation in state history. There is so much tin ore near Lake Mathews that geologists compare the area to Cornwall, England, which supplied much of the world's demand for 2,000 years. Los Angeles Times_ 3/4/06 (logon required)

February, 2006

Wolfeboro, New Hampshire turns treated wastewater into 30-foot high mounds of snow

The "e-snow" or "effluent snow" is the result of pumping 2.5 million gallons of liquid from the storage lagoons at the town's sewer treatment facility through snow-making guns. The goal is to improve the storage capacity of the lagoons, whose levels are more than 25 percent higher than last year due to heavy rains last fall. The amount of effluent coming into the treatment system is exceeding the plant's storage capacity, resulting in an order last April barring new sewer hookups until the town upgrades its treatment plant. AP/Portsmouth Herald_ 2/26/06

Why is ice slippery? The once-common text book answer turns out to be wrong

What makes Olympic ice skaters slide across the ice? Though the question may seem to be a simple one, physicists are still searching for a simple answer. And slipperiness is just one of the unanswered puzzles about ice. Besides the everyday ice that you slip on, there are about a dozen other forms, some of which experts suspect exist in the hot interior of Earth or on the surface of Pluto. Scientists expect to discover still more variations in the coming years. Dr. Robert M. Rosenberg, an emeritus professor of chemistry at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wis., and a visiting scholar at Northwestern University, wrote an article looking at the slipperiness of ice in the December issue of Physics Today. Ice, he said, "is a very mysterious solid."   New York Times_ 2/21/06 (logon required)

UK town's landmark water tower sold as possible penthouse apartment
An historic landmark with no reserve price was sold at auction on Thursday for £330,000 ($574,000). The disused water tower called "Jumbo" in Colchester, Essex was auctioned with planning consent for a penthouse flat. Several schemes to develop the 131 ft landmark, which was taken out of commission in the 1980s, have failed. BBC News_ 2/16/06

January, 2006

Israeli inventor Alon Bodner develops 'artificial gills'

The underwater breathing system literally squeezes oxygen directly from seawater, doing away with the need for compressed air tanks. Called "LikeAFish", the battery-powered artificial gill system aims to extract the small amounts of dissolved air that already exists in water to supply breathable oxygen to scuba divers, submarines and underwater habitats. BBC News_ 1/31/06

In California, water beds mean happy cows; Can lava lamps and Muzak be far behind?

The bovine bedding is far from a quirky indulgence for Edgar De Jager's spotted, four-legged creatures. De Jager's Chowchilla dairy apparently leads the nation in the number of water beds — roughly one for each of his 2,850 animals. Adding the beds was a business decision aimed partly at pleasing his neighbors just a mile away within the city limits, he said, because the beds are easier to clean and thus reduce odor. They also please the animals that pay his way with the milk they produce. Rutland Herald_ 1/29/06

San Diego police hunt for $2,700 heated toilet seat

A metal display case containing the specially made bathroom fixture was taken from an unlocked storage facility, according to a police report. The commode seat is heated by water, and the temperature is thermostat-controlled. A man told police he had the sample seat to market it in San Diego. San Diego Union-Tribune_ 1/19/06

Polluted water prevents Indian men from getting married
High fluoride content makes life tough for the men of Dudu

Single men hailing from the Dudu Town of India’s Rajasthan are unable to find brides, as a result of the high fluoride content in its water. The excessive fluoride has given rise to several orthopedic problems in the people living in the area. 'I have two sons of marriageable age but all my efforts to find brides for them have failed due to the water problem,’ said Ramji Lal Jat, a Dudu resident, who also added that the local people wanted to give their daughters in marriage to people living in other places. Hariram Singh, a taxi driver from Boraj, a village close to state capital Jaipur, said no one wanted to knowingly put their daughters in trouble by marrying them to men from Dudu.  MedIndia.com_1/18/06



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