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December, 2007

Eight glasses of water a day - and other myths
Many tidbits of medical wisdom have been shown to be untrue or there is little scientific evidence to back them up, according to a report by two U.S. researchers in the British Medical Journal.  Here is what their online investigation revealed:  Drink at least eight glasses of water a day. There's a lack of medical evidence showing you need to down this much water daily. This common prescription can be traced to a 1945 medical recommendation that stated: "A suitable allowance of water for adults is 2.5 litres daily in most instances. An ordinary standard for diverse persons is one ml for each calorie of food. Most of this quantity is contained in prepared foods." If the last, crucial sentence is ignored, the statement could be interpreted as an instruction to drink eight glasses of water a day. Evidence suggests you can meet all your fluid needs through food and other beverages including juices, milk and even caffeinated drinks.  Globe and Mail_12/21/07

Main break sends water into musician Eddie Van Halen's yard

Eddie Van Halen's Coldwater Canyon Avenue home has been saved from any damage after a water main break sent thousands of gallons of water rushing through his yard and streets. The rupture, due to a broken air valve, occurred about 1 a.m. Monday in Studio City north of Los Angeles. Water flowed down Coldwater Canyon Avenue and traveled as far as a mile away. Fire spokesman Cecil Manresa confirmed the lone house affected by the water belongs to Van Halen. Mud and debris filled the pool and damaged a gate and block wall, but sandbags placed around the home prevented any water from entering inside. AP/Mercury News_ 12/10/07 (logon required)

Clogged toilet gives inmate opening to escape

An Indiana inmate who escaped from a work-release crew by creating a distraction with an overflowing toilet has been recaptured, authorities said. Police arrested Wayne Mitchell, 24, Thursday when he showed up at his father's house in Indianapolis driving a Chevrolet Camaro convertible authorities said he stole to make his getaway. Mitchell was in the Clark County Jail for a probation-violation warrant, but had been working with a crew clearing roadside trash. When the crew stopped at the Clark County Fraternal Order of Police lodge to eat lunch Wednesday, Mitchell went into a restroom and clogged a toilet, causing it to overflow, police said. He then came out saying he needed some towels from the jail's van to sop up the mess. Instead of going to the van, Mitchell walked to nearby G&R Auto Sales, where an employee gave him the keys to a car he said he wanted to look over, police said. Police said he then stole a red 1995 Camaro. AP/Seattle Post-Intelligencer_ 12/6/07

November, 2007

When Los Angeles has a drought, who ya gonna call? Drought Busters.

Richard Crossley and his 15 colleagues each drives a white Toyota Prius (complete with "Drought buster" logo) and wields a polite smile, handshake, and an armload of bulging information packets. The program, which helped cut water use by about 30 percent during a drought in the 1990s, comes as the entire state takes steps to conserve water. Christian Science Monitor_ 11/27/07

Even thieves are going green, taking water tanks, pumps
Latest emerging crime trend appears to be a sign of the times.

Police said yesterday water tanks and electric pumps had become a target of thieves.  Four stolen tanks were recently recovered when police raided a property in the eastern suburbs after a tip-off to Crime Stoppers.  The police co-ordinator of Crime Stoppers, Det-Insp Val Smith, said the tanks were an unexpected bonus for police who went to the property to investigate reports of drug trafficking.  "Since then we've heard other reports of water tanks being stolen," Det-Insp Smith said.  "I guess it's another case of supply and demand driving the market for thieves.

Huge water park planned for Mesa, Arizona desert

The massive new water park would offer surf-sized waves, snorkeling, scuba diving and kayaking — all in a bone-dry region that gets just 8 inches of rain a year. The Waveyard, to be built 15 miles east of Phoenix, would dwarf the typical water-slide parks familiar to many Arizona families. No citizens groups overtly opposed the project, but its water usage may raise questions in the future as the growing Phoenix areas struggles to replenish its vast aquifer. Arizona has been in a drought for a decade, and rivers that feed Phoenix and surrounding communities experienced near-record low measurements this year. Jim Holway, associate director of the Global Institute of Sustainability at Arizona State University, said the Phoenix area currently enjoys huge supplies of underground water. But it's tough to determine exactly how long communities can sustain their rate of water consumption, given that global warming may make the desert even drier. The Waveyard will need as much as 50 million gallons of water at first to fill its artificial oceans and rivers. Replenishing water lost to evaporation and spillage will require another 60 to 100 million gallons per year, enough to support about 1,200 people in the Phoenix area. Project organizers say they won't tap Mesa's drinking water supplies to fill the park. Instead, they plan to draw from a well that has elevated levels of arsenic, which makes its water unsuitable for drinking. The Waveyard will build a treatment plant to make the water safe for swimmers. AP_ 11/19/07

Drinks firm enlists Jesus to sell bottled water

A drinks company is banking on some divine help in a new venture -- selling spiritual water in bottles featuring Jesus and carrying prayers -- despite warnings this promotion could backfire. Spiritual Brands Inc., a start-up company from Florida, is hoping to make a splash in the competitive bottled water market, worth over $11 billion a year in the United States alone, with its new Spiritual Water. Elicko Taieb, company founder and chief executive, said the company chose Christianity first, since it is so prevalent in the United States, but has plans to expand. "We are working on covering everyone, from Muslims to Jews to Buddhists," said Taieb, who said his family practices Judaism and Catholicism. He said he's not worried about turning people off with the holy images, though John Sicher, publisher of industry newsletter Beverage Digest, said it could happen. "Provocative marketing is fine, but this may well raise an issue of respect or a lack thereof," Sicher said in an email. Reuters_ 11/2/07

October, 2007

Nevada's great cloud-rustling controversy

About 30 miles south of Gardnerville is an unremarkable patch of land that was once the center of a hurricane of controversy involving the right to claim water in rain clouds. In December 1947, Nevada rancher Dick Haman and partner Freeman Fairfield filed a claim to all the water clouds passing over their 12,300-acre spread near Topaz Lake. While Haman's claim was certainly not the most outrageous water scheme to come down the pipe, the action did show the lengths to which desert dwellers will go to find water. Lahontan Valley News and Fallon Eagle Standard_ 10/28/07

Southern California water board member claims he won the Medal of Honor; FBI steps in

Xavier Alvarez, the newest director of Three Valleys Municipal Water District in Claremont, had a personal story so harrowing he came to be known as the "Rambo" of the water board. He said he was a 25-year veteran of the Marine Corps. In 1979, he rescued the U.S. ambassador during the siege of the embassy in Tehran. He was shot twice, hanging from a helicopter, removing the American flag on the way out. He also said he was married to a "Mexican starlet;" played ice hockey at a minor level for the Detroit Red Wings; and had been a cop in Downey until he was let go for excessive force. But when Alvarez, 49, told a gathering of water officials that he had received the Medal of Honor -- an award held by only about 100 living people -- a call soon came from the FBI. Authorities say Alvarez never served in the military. Last month, he became the first person in the nation charged with making a bogus claim of having a medal for valor, according to the FBI. Los Angeles Times_ 10/20/07 (logon required)

What's in your sewer water? Utah sewer district makes a point to help the Great Salt Lake

The water looks clear, but the label on the bottle tells a different story. "Ingredients," notes the back side of the bottle's label: "Water, fecal matter, toilet paper, hair, lint, rancid grease, stomach acid and trace amounts of Pepto Bismol, chocolate, urine, body oils, dead skin, industrial chemicals (aluminum, copper, zinc, lead, chromium, nickel, molybdenum, selenium, silver arsenic, mercury,) ammonia, ... soil, laundry soap, bath soap, shaving cream, sweat, saliva, salt, sugar. No artificial colors or preservatives. Some variations in taste and/or color may occur due to holidays, predominant cuisine preference, infiltration/inflow, or sewer cross-connections." The specially labeled bottle water comes courtesy of the North Davis Sewer District. And no, it's not real. Yet. AP/Salt Lake Tribune_ 10/15/07

The drop of water that defies gravity

Scientists claimed a world first by making a drop of water flow uphill. The research team from Bristol University ran a tiny droplet down an incline of 85 degrees, then made it move back up by vibrating the surface to make the droplet generate enough energy to move itself. The team is still not entirely sure why the vibration doesn’t make the water go farther down the slope. TimesOnline_ 10/6/07

True or false: The U.S. produces 80% of the world's solar-powered hot water

The answer is: FALSE It is actually China which can claim this fact -- it produces around 80 million cubic meters of solar hot water a year, taking 80% of the global market share. Solar-powered hot water is taking off to such an extent in China that now, around 1 in 10 households have solar heated water. Worldwatch Institute/CCTV/CNN_ 10/2/07

September, 2007

Clyde the Elk Prefers Bottle Water
In the debate over whether bottled water tastes better than tap water, Clyde the elk votes for the bottle every time. Clyde is a domesticated elk who was born and raised on a ranch and lives at the privately run Wyman Living History Museum outside this northwest Colorado city.  It's not clear who gave him his first bottle of water, but he now spurns the ranch's well and a 6,000-gallon tank of city water. He wraps his lips around a bottle if it's proffered by a human.  It might be that Clyde likes the bottle more than the water. Julie Harris, his caretaker, said she sometimes sneaks city water into his bottles to cut costs.  Associated Press_9/26/07

University of Central Florida to install water fountains, immediately

University of Central Florida officials said they would immediately begin installing 50 water fountains throughout their Bright House Networks Stadium, with 10 fountains expected to be in place by Saturday's game against Memphis. UCF spokesman Grant Heston said the university made the decision following criticism from fans stemming from a debut game last Saturday. During that game, parched fans discovered the structure has no public drinking fountains as concession stands ran out of bottled water around the end of the third quarter.

Sun-Sentinel_ 9/18/07

Philadelphia Congressman Bob Brady offers to pay for using up all the free water

It wasn't Bob Brady's fault. OK, so he had a humongous picnic in West Philly last weekend that sucked up all the city's free PhillyTap bottled water, indirectly forcing an Oxford Circle community group to spend $275 on water it thought it was getting free. But the congressman and city Democratic Party boss stepped up yesterday, personally offering to send a check to the Oxford Circle Christian Community Development Association for its loss. The Water Department took responsibility last week for the flub. Though Oxford Circle had reserved the water more than three weeks in advance, Brady's organizer, City Councilwoman Carol Ann Campbell, didn't put in her order until four days before the event. The Water Department has traditionally given out water for community events as a public service. Brady didn't get the water because he was Bob Brady; he got it because someone was expecting another shipment of bottles, a spokesman said. Philadelphia inquirer_ 9/17/07

Copper thieves in San Bernardino County, California steal water wells' tubing, shut down drinking water to 1,500

Copper thieves stole tubing from drinking water wells serving 1,500 people, forcing three of five wells to be shut down. Residents served by the Muscoy Mutual Water District Co. have been asked to conserve until the equipment is repaired. The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department is investigating the copper caper. The value of the purloined copper tubing - essential to keep the water well motors running - was put at only $50, sheriff's spokeswoman Jodi Miller said. Two wells were repaired Thursday, but a third well providing a fourth of the agency's water will be shut down for 10 days. Copper has long been a target of those desperate for quick cash. Thefts have skyrocketed nationwide during the last year as demand and the price of the copper has soared. Copper was selling for $3.39 a pound this week. Los Angeles Times/Fresno Bee_ 9/14/07

Worms in Scottish tap water 'just an aesthetic issue'

Water chiefs were at the centre of a storm yesterday after describing worms in the water supply as an "aesthetic issue". Customers complained to Scottish Water after they found tiny bloodworms - midge larvae - coming out of their taps. About 30 householders in Oban are thought to have discovered the 6mm worms when pouring a glass of water. The quango said the problem was caused by a build-up of midge larvae in a filter at the local reservoir. It had now added "a backwash of chlorine" to the supply to prevent further breeding. Jason Rose, a Scottish Water spokesman, apologised for the problem, but said it was an "aesthetic issue" and there was no risk to health. A resident who asked not to be named, said: "Nobody is going to want to drink, cook or clean with water that is infested with midge larvae. To imply it's only an 'aesthetic issue' is just bloody cheek." The Scotsman_ 9/11/07

Chinese chicken chokes after testing the water

Think a bottle of mineral water might have poisoned you? Then test it on a chicken. One Chinese family on the southern island province of Hainan had just that idea when one of their number started vomiting blood after drinking a bottle of water, a newspaper said. They fed the luckless chicken the rest of the water to see what would happen, the Beijing News said, citing a report in a local paper. "The result was the chicken died within a minute," it said, showing a picture of a man holding a plastic bottle squatting over the crumpled body of the bird. The province's authorities were investigating, it added. Reuters_ 9/9/07

August, 2007

France: No blessing for carry-on holy water

The real miracle would have been getting it past airport security. Inspectors at Tarbes-Lourdes-Pyrénées Airport barred passengers on a new Vatican-backed chartered flight to the shrine at Lourdes from returning to Rome with carry-on holy water, some in containers in the shape of the Virgin Mary, above, saying the water, which is said to have healing powers, had to follow security rules just like other liquids. Reuters/New York Times_ 8/30/07 (logon required)

Prehistoric Greek water works found

Archaeologists excavating a sprawling prehistoric fortress in southern Greece have discovered a secret underground passage thought to have supplied the site with water in times of danger. Dating to the mid-13th century B.C., the stone passage passed under the massive walls of the Mycenaean citadel of Midea and probably led to a nearby water source, authorities said Friday. The passage would allow the people of Midea, about 93 miles south of Athens, safe access to drinkable water even in times of enemy attack. Only three such networks — major engineering feats requiring intensive labor — from Mycenaean times have been found so far. AP/Yahoo!_ 8/24/07

If it's summer in Moscow, the hot water must be shut off; The annual part of life has found its way into poems and songs

The dour Moscow of Cold War film strips is long gone, and this increasingly prosperous city fancies itself striding chest out into the future. But every summer, the people here get a taste of old-style deprivation. In neighborhoods rich and poor, for as long as a month, most buildings have had no running hot water, not a drop. For all its new wealth and aspirations, Moscow remains saddled with an often decrepit infrastructure. Now, an apt symbol of its condition is the city's hot water system, perhaps one of the more exasperating vestiges of Soviet centralized planning. Buildings in Moscow usually receive hot water from a series of plants throughout the city, not from basement boilers, as in the United States. By summer, the plants and the network of pipelines that transport the hot water need maintenance. Off goes the hot water. International Herald Tribune_ 8/20/07

Bottled or tap? 'Colbert Report' to air Stephen Colbert's water fight with Richard Branson

Branson, who was on the show to promote his Virgin American airline, doused Colbert with a glass of water when the segment ended. He was reportedly angry (or pretending to be angry) because he didn't have a chance to plug the airline by name. Colbert retaliated by drenching Branson after sending a staffer for a glass of water. Colbert had to be dried off by staffers after the water fight. Comedy Central officials claim it was all in good fun. But audience members who attended the taping last Tuesday blogged that Colbert looked ruffled and angry afterward — and that the two men sat in stony silence for a few seconds. The water fight will air Aug. 22. NYPost/FoxNews_ 8/14/07

Despite his plea that Los Angeles residents save water, mayor and other leaders are heavy users

Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa challenged residents this summer to "change course" and slash their water use by 10% in the face of a historic drought. But records show that the mayor and several other top city officials have long been heavy water users themselves. In Villaraigosa's case, even if he had made a 10% reduction at the two homes where he has lived since winning election in 2005, he still would have used nearly twice as much water as comparable properties in the vicinity. City Atty. Rocky Delgadillo and Councilman Tony Cardenas surpassed the mayor, using more than twice the number of gallons over the last two years as typical property owners in their parts of town. In fact, a review of Department of Water and Power documents shows that at least nine of the city's 18 elected leaders used higher than average amounts of water -- sometimes a little, other times a lot -- over the last two years. Los Angeles Times_ 8/10/07 (logon required)

Water is the way to go: UK funeral directors plan to boil bodies to dust

If you really want to be different - and green - how about having your remains boiled in water? Cemetery bosses are in talks with a Glasgow firm Resomation which plans to turn bodies to dust rapidly by submerging them in water and heating them to 150C (302F). The process - called resomation - is similar to cremation but the company claims it is better for the environment because it uses less energy and does not emit harmful chemicals. When a body is cremated, it is heated to up to 1,200C (2,192F) and lets off a number of harmful gases, including high levels of mercury. With resomation, there also is no wooden coffin to be destroyed. It would cost up to £300,000 to install a machine and the cost per funeral would be around £300 - about the same as a cremation. The name resomation is based on the Greek word resoma - which means rebirth of the human body. Already, up to 1,100 bodies have been treated this way in the US. Chemically, the process is similar to - but much faster than - natural decomposition. Afterwards, the 'bio-ashes' are returned to loved ones. Daily Mail_ 8/4/07

July, 2007

Maker of toilet aquarium swims into new territory

Toilets and pet fish have an unhappy history, but AquaOne Technologies is changing that — one flush at a time. This wasn't how the Westminster, California-based company set out to make its name. Really. The serious-minded small business was founded seven years ago with the worthy goal of ending the biggest single source of wasted water in any household: leaky and overflowing toilets. Its first product, the FlowManager, was a sensor that attached to the toilet bowl to detect leaks and shut off the water to the fixture. It's been welcomed by nursing homes and other care facilities. Richard Quintana, 53, AquaOne's chief executive, said the company originally had no plans to sell a fish tank toilet. It was simply a trade-show gimmick to attract passersby to look at a new sensor. During an executive brain-storming session on ways to demonstrate the new sensor they realized they were dads who had all flushed their share of dead guppies and goldfish over the years, and the same thought hit all of them: What if we had fish in that tank and flushed it and the fish stayed and didn't go down the drain? At the trade show, something unexpected happened. Crowds gathered to see the fish tank toilet — and ignored the new sensor. "It was insane," said David Parrish, the chief operating officer for AquaOne. "We had to set up appointments for people because so many people were coming by to play with the fish tank that we couldn't present our products. They wanted to buy the thing." Since December, the company has sold 1,000 of the 1.6-gallon Fish 'n Flush tanks which include two aquarium aerators and a filter and retails for $299. Los Angeles Times_ 7/25/07 (logon required)

Turbulent water at Oregon reservoir: it bubbles and then there is an explosion of debris

Ben and Mandy Kauffman of Albany say they were camping at the Green Peter Reservoir near Sweet Home last weekend when and saw what appeared to be a black hole in the water that formed a perfect circle with some debris coming up. The Army Corps of Engineers says the events are likely geothermal eruptions - possibly the release of warm water or gas. The corps is investigating. But officials say they do not believe the eruptions put visitors to the reservoir at risk. AP/KMTR-TV_ 7/23/07

'Well from hell' spewing hot water from taps
But no arsenic

Hot water is flowing from cold water faucets in Sun Groves, and it's not a plumbing problem.  The Chandler neighborhood southeast of Lindsay and Riggs roads is close to one of the city's newest wells - a natural underground hot spring where water temperatures can exceed 100 degrees, said Bob Mulvey, assistant municipal utilities director.  The heat became more noticeable in recent weeks because record water consumption is forcing the city to pump more from the thermal source, he said.   "It's bizarre that you can't have cold water," said Sun Groves resident Charles Bassett. "Our 3-year-old son said it's too hot to wash his hands. My wife is seven months pregnant and can't take a shower to cool down."  The "well from hell" isn't all bad. Mulvey said it is producing 3 million gallons a day, three times the quantity of an average city well. That has saved the city more than $4 million in additional well-drilling costs.  Unlike other sources of groundwater, this one has such a low arsenic level that the city doesn't have to treat it to meet strict federal standards.   The Arizona Republic_7/18/07  (logon required)

Extreme health claims for water too good to be true

Minneapolis Star Tribune reader's representative Kate Parry tracked down the sources used for a widely distributed news story that made incredible health claims for drinking water, among them: "drinking five glasses of water a day 'has been shown to reduce the risk of colon cancer by 45 percent, breast cancer by 79 percent and bladder cancer by 50 percent.'" Parry determined those claims and others originated more than 15 years ago, had no scientific basis and have spread ever since on the Internet. Her recommendations: There are many bogus "health" websites online sponsored by those trying to make a quick buck off consumers. Editors, reporters and consumers should always apply a smell test before using them. There's a good "Guide to Healthy Web Surfing" offered by MedlinePlus, produced by the National Library of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health. It recommends some questions to consider before using a health website, among them: Can you tell who runs the website? Does it make health claims that "seem too good to be true?" Who pays for it? Minneapolis Star-Tribune_ 7/14/07

Scientists make a building made of water
An international team led by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers has created a building made of water.  The building, to be unveiled during next year's Expo Zaragoza in Spain, features liquid curtains for walls -- curtains that not only can display images or messages, but can also sense an approaching object and automatically part to let it through.  The pavilion's roof, covered by a thin layer of water, will be supported by large pistons and can move up and down. When the pavilion is closed, the roof will collapse to the ground and the whole structure will disappear.  The facade of the water pavilion will be like a very large display, with text, letters, and interactive patterns. "You could throw a ball at the wall, and then see an open circle drop down to meet it precisely where and when its trajectory intersected the water surface," said William Mitchell, head of MIT's Design Laboratory.  Officials said the pavilion illustrates the potential of "digital water" as an emerging medium. Science Daily_7/11/07

Chinese city opens public toilet with more than 1,000 stalls

They're flushing with pride in a southwestern Chinese city where a recently opened porcelain palace features an Egyptian facade, soothing music and more than 1,000 toilets spread out over 32,290 square feet. Officials in Chongqing are preparing to submit an application to Guinness World Records to have the four-story, free-of-charge public restroom listed as the world's largest, state-run China Central Television reported Friday. "We are spreading toilet culture. People can listen to gentle music and watch TV," said Lu Xiaoqing, an official with the Yangrenjie, or "Foreigners Street," tourist area where the bathroom is located. "After they use the bathroom they will be very, very happy." AP/USA Today_ 7/6/07

St. Louis wins bragging rights for best water taste from U.S. mayors

During the 75th Annual Meeting of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, St. Louis (MO) was chosen as the Best Tasting City Water in America and it will receive a cash award of $15,000 and bragging rights. Hundreds of mayors attending the 75th Annual Meeting were the judges of the “Best Tasting City Water in America” who conducted a blind test of tap water for taste, clarity and aroma. The five finalists (Anaheim, CA; Colorado Springs, CO; Long Beach, CA; St. Louis, MO and Toledo, OH) were part of a group of 93 cities, which were selected for their achievement in providing great tasting, quality water to America’s citizens. News Release_ 6/26/07

Around-the-world relay spreads awareness and raises money for safe drinking water projects worldwide

The inaugural 2007 Blue Planet Run began June 1 in New York and athletes representing 13 countries and ranging in age from 23 to 60 are running 24/7 for 95 days. It ends in New York September 9. The 15,200-mile route passes through through 16 countries including Ireland, England, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, Poland, Belarus, Russia, Mongolia, China, Japan, Canada and the U.S. The relay is sponsored by Dow Chemical. Check out the route. News Release/Corporate Social Responsibility Newswire_ 6/11/07

U.S. Conference of Mayors to pick city with the best tasting water

Finalists in the 2007 City Water Taste Test are Anaheim, CA; Colorado Springs, CO; Long Beach, CA; St. Louis, MO and Toledo, OH. The finalists were selected June 6 from a group of 93 contenders. The blind test rated tap water entries for taste, clarity and aroma. The winner will be selected during 75th Annual Meeting of The U.S. Conference of Mayors in Los Angeles (June 22-26). The winning city will earn the title "Best Tasting City Water in America," $15,000 and bragging rights. The contest is sponsored by Veolia Water North America. The ten cities that received honorable mentions were: Arvada, CO, Beverly Hills, CA, Dubuque, IA, Greenbay, WI, Lansing, MI, Northbrook, IL, Philadelphia, PA, San Jose, CA, Sugar Land, TX, and Tallahassee, FL. News Release_ 6/6/07

Hotel mini-bars drive Australian travelers to cheat

More than half of Australian travellers have tried to cheat hotel minibars with tactics such as replacing bottled water with tap water, a survey has found. Herald Sun_ 5/28/07

Tornado that destroyed Greensburg, Kansas leaves its tourist attraction untouched

The most powerful tornado recorded in the U.S. in years destroyed Greensburg, Kansas Friday night, but it didn't wipe out the town's tourist attraction: the world's largest hand-dug well.

NPR reported the well, built in 1888 for the railroads, survived the F5 tornado that killed at least eight in the town of 1,500 residents. The 109-foot-deep well served as the town's water supply until 1939 when it was closed and turned into a tourist attraction. WaterWebster_ 5/7/09

Automated public toilets off to a slow start in Los Angeles; city bureaucracy is blamed

The green, oval, vaguely Art Deco pod arrived in Pershing Square six months ago — billed as the answer to one of downtown's most human of needs. It's a luxury automated toilet, the kind seen on the streets of world-class cities such as Paris and New York and a prototype for as many as 150 that officials plan to roll out across Los Angeles in the next few years. Costing as much as a small downtown condo, it offers instructions in Vietnamese, French, Italian, Spanish, English and Braille, advising passersby to drop a quarter in the slot and step inside. Unfortunately, the bathroom doesn't work. Los Angeles Times_ 5/3/07 (logon required)

April, 2007

Major Discovery: New planet could harbor water and life

An Earth-like planet spotted outside our solar system is the first found that could support liquid water and harbor life, scientists announced today. Liquid water is a key ingredient for life as we know it. The newfound planet is located at the "Goldilocks" distance—not too close and not too far from its star to keep water on its surface from freezing or vaporizing away. And while astronomers are not yet able to look for signs of biology on the planet, the discovery is a milestone in planet detection and the search for extraterrestrial life, one with the potential to profoundly change our outlook on the universe. The study leader is Stephane Udry of the Geneva Observatory in Switzerland. The new planet is about 50 percent bigger than Earth and about five times more massive. The new “super-Earth” is called Gliese 581 C, after its star, Gliese 581, a diminutive red dwarf star located 20.5 light-years away that is about one-third as massive as the Sun. space.com_ 4/24/07

Japan's Toto Ltd. warns toilets might catch fire

Japan's leading toilet maker Toto Ltd. is offering free repairs for 180,000 bidet toilets after wiring problems caused several to catch fire, the company said Monday. "Fortunately, nobody was using the toilets when the fire broke out and there were no injuries," said company spokeswoman Emi Tanaka. "The fire would have been just under your buttocks." The popular Z series features a pulsating massage spray, a power dryer, built-in-the-bowl deodorizing filter, the "Tornado Wash" flush and a lid that opens and closes automatically. Prices range from $1,680 to $2,600. The model is not sold overseas. AP/Boston Globe_ 4/16/07

UK's Thames Water tells veggie gardeners on public land 'no watering' when general restrictions are in effect

Thames, which has come under fire for losing 200 million gallons of water a day from leaking pipes, says that tending allotments with hosepipes is a "non-essential use of water". It is lobbying the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs for a change in water laws dating back to 1945. At present, council allotment holders are exempt from hosepipe bans because their land is treated as public rather than private. Geoff Stokes, secretary of the National Society of Allotment and Leisure Gardeners said Thames Water "could take a running jump". Evening Standard_ 4/15/07

UK water company decides leak is its responsibility to investigate, 5 years after it's discovered

A mysterious leak that pours water out at a rate of a gallon every 20 seconds is to be investigated - five years after it was first noticed. The water - which may be from an underground source - pours non-stop on to a road in Camp Hill, Nuneaton. It started as a trickle and has developed into a stream over the years. Severn Trent Water said the delay was due to it initially believing the leak was from an owner's property but would now treat the matter as a priority. BBC News_ 3/29/07

British football team Celtic fined for fans throwing plastic water bottles; and then the team lost 1-0

Celtic have been fined £420 by Uefa after supporters were alleged to have thrown plastic water bottles towards the San Siro Stadium pitch in Milan. Two incidents of bottles being thrown towards the pitch were recorded by officials from European football's governing body at the 7 March match. Neither missile reached the playing surface during Celtic's Champions League defeat by AC Milan. Celtic are likely to appeal within the three-day limit. The club claims that the bottles were thrown from an area outwith the official Celtic support. BBC Sports_ 3/26/07

Sculpting with desalinated sea clay: it's an art form

Rony Maffi was born with an artist’s soul; his talent was inherited from the Guaiqueri Indians who lived in the Araya Peninsular of Sucre before the Spanish conquered Venezuela. His mother, Yesenia, is a self-taught sand sculptor who passed this gift on to Rony in a technique that he now uses called Pariche, which means mountain of colors in Indian. His clay is collected on the beach from underneath the sand, in wet form and desalinated with fresh water. All At Sea_ February, 2007

January, 2007

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick won't face charges over suspicious water bottle

The water bottle had a hidden compartment and Vick tried to bring it through security at Miami International Airport last week. Laboratory tests on the substance in the bottle's compartment, which police suspected may have contained marijuana, found no evidence of drugs, according to a memo by Deisy Rodriguez, an assistant state attorney. The memo didn't say what the substance was. A police report said the bottle appeared to hold water, but had a compartment hidden behind the label the contained a ``small amount of dark particulate'' and a smell ``consistent with marijuana.'' Bloomberg_ 1/22/07

Water drinking contest blamed in death of California woman

A 27-year-old mother of three has died of water intoxication after competing in a Sacramento radio station contest where people attempted to drink as much water as they could without peeing. Jennifer Strange was found dead in her suburban Rancho Cordova home shortly after participating in the "Hold Your Wee for a Wii" contest, held by KDND 107.9 on Friday. Strange had told friends she was hoping to win the prize, a Nintendo Wii video game, for her kids. Water intoxication occurs when water enters the body more quickly than it can be removed, upsetting the body's delicate balance of electrolytes, which are critical for nerve and muscle function. AP/CBC News_ 1/14/07



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