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2008 And Finally


December, 2008

Water, in all its forms, tops Canada's 2008 weather news

Whether it was frozen, flooding or falling, water and its incarnations were at the heart of Canadian weather woes in 2008, according to Environment Canada's annual roundup. The year's No. 1 weather issue hearkens back to the summer, when the season of sun was anything but for eastern Canada. Rays of sunshine were replaced with reams of rain as provinces from Ontario to Newfoundland and Labrador endured the wettest summer on record. Running second on the list of the year's top climate stories is Arctic ice loss, a sequel to last year's No. 1 most notable weather story and an issue that has attracted attention beyond Canada's borders. The navigable routes of the Northwest Passage and the Northeast Passage (over the top of Russia) were simultaneously free of ice for the first time in recorded history, while the summer of 2008 marked the third consecutive year ships could navigate the Northwest Passage without confronting sea ice. Permanent or thick multi-year ice now comprises just 11 per cent of Canadian Arctic waters, compared with 16 per cent last year. CBC News_ 12/30/08

Cold snap causes leaks for Nevada water advisor

What happens when the guy who is supposed to help advise people about winterizing their homes has a few pipes of his own burst? You laugh about it, which is what Andy Gebhardt, supervisor of customer services and conservation at the Truckee Meadows Water Authority (TMWA), did, just a few days ago. And, he advises, And with temperatures surely to keep dropping this winter, it is important avoid messes before they happen.

Sparks Tribune_ 12/20/08

For crowds at the presidential inaugural, 5,000 toilets available

Here's the number everyone has been waiting for: There will be 5,000 porta-potties available on the Mall and along the parade route on Inauguration Day. If officials ordered the portable restrooms based on how many people they expect that day, then figure on crowds of 500,000 to 1.5 million people. That's a wide range based on whose toilet-to-bladder recommendation is used. Don's Johns recommends one unit for every 100 people. The National Park Service recommends one toilet for every 300, according to spokesman Bill Line, who points out that each event is different because of weather and time of year. Washington Post_ 12/19/08 (logon required)

November, 2008

Las Vegas, Nevada water use down; population dropping too?

Through October, the Las Vegas Valley Water District has sold roughly 4 billion gallons less water than it had by the same time last year, a decline of almost 4 percent. It is the largest such year-to-year decline for the water district in recent memory. Some local demographers now estimate Clark County's population actually shrank by nearly 10,400 people over the past year. If State Demographer Jeff Hardcastle and Gov. Jim Gibbons sign off on this year's figure, it will mark the first official decline in population since before the county began collecting demographic data in the 1960s, said Jon Wardlaw, who oversees population estimates as assistant planning manager for Clark County. Las Vegas Review-Journal_ 11/28/08

Yippee! Houston we can turn urine into water

With a cry of "yippee!" the commander of the orbiting International Space Station told mission control that a contraption for turning urine into drinking water was finally working and the crew were heading to bed. The running repairs were crucial to plans to sustain six-person crews and increased scientific research on the orbiting international space laboratory. The space-based construction of the station began in 1998 and it has been continuously manned since the first crew arrived in November 2000. The Independent_ 11/25/08

Astronauts try to fix urine-to-water machine

Astronauts tinkered Sunday with a troublesome piece of equipment designed to help convert urine and sweat into drinkable water, which is vital to allowing the international space station crew to double to six. As a last resort, Endeavour could bring a problematic part back to Earth for repairs when the shuttle departs on Thanksgiving. That option could complicate plans to add crew members to the station since several water samples need to brought back for tests before astronauts can drink from the contraption. The astronauts have been trying to get the $154 million water recovery system running for four days, but the urine processor has worked for just two hours at a time before shutting down. A normal run is about four hours. AP_ 11/23/08

It's 'pay to sip' in Melbourne, Australia

About 50 cafes have signed up to do the unthinkable — ask Melburnians to pay for a glass of tap water. The project, touted as a way to make people water-wise, is backed by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry and will run for a week from December 1. Money raised from a "token sum" charged during Drink for Change is to be used by the businesses to install water-saving measures, but it has raised concerns that it could be a softening-up step towards making charging for tap water an accepted practice. The Age_ 11/19/08

James Bond battles world water villain

The new James Bond movie deals with water rights and a villain who wants to control the entire world's water. Some say the new movie could be a lot more realistic than many people imagine. In the latest Bond film, 'Quantum of Solace,' 007 faces a villain who takes control of a country's most precious resource: fresh water. Why h20? The film's director Marc Forster believes the world is in for a water crisis. "Water will be, really, the next huge problem i think humanity is going to face," said Forster. ABC4News_ 11/17/08

Space Station's remodeled water supply: 'Yuck factor 'looms large
Time for a remodeling job for the International Space Station. At 10 years old, it needs more bedrooms, another kitchen and bathroom and a more reliable water supply — though one that might make most folks squirm a bit.  Top priority for the Endeavour crew, poised to lift off Friday night from Florida for a 15-day mission: installing hardware designed to recycle urine into drinking water.  The station's primary source of water is the space shuttle, which makes about four deliveries annually. With the winged rocket ships facing retirement in two years, water recycling is a must.  "There is definitely a yuck factor," said Endeavour astronaut Sandy Magnus.  Despite her candor, she can make the reclaimed urine seem as appealing as the water from a mountain stream.  "We are not really drinking our own urine. We are drinking water that has been reclaimed from a process with urine as the input," Magnus said.  Houston Chronicle_11/12/08

Seal pup delays £2 million Scottish water project

Engineering work on a £2.6 million Scottish Water project in Sutherland was held up after a grey seal pup was born on the route of a new pipeline. Animal welfare charity the Scottish SPCA was asked for advice. However, engineers were able to resume operations after the pup and its mother moved on after a few days. Steve Bunn, project manager for Scottish Water Solutions, said: "We planned for all sorts of eventualities but this seal pup kept us on our toes." BBC News_ 11/3/08

October, 2008

Aquaholic drinks himself to death by gorging on a hosepipe

A man suffering from a rare 'aquaholic' thirst was found dead after drinking a massive volume of water directly from a garden hose, an inquest in Reading, England, has heard. Andrew Else, 51, was found drenched and lifeless outside his care home after staff spotted him drinking from the hose. He is said to have developed an unquenchable thirst after suffering a stomach condition in his 20s. He would go to extreme lengths to satisfy his cravings, regularly drinking from bathroom taps. Pathologist Dr Colin McCormick said Mr Else had died from over-consumption of water which had diluted the levels of sodium in his blood, causing heart failure. Toxicology tests also found he had died from water intoxication - a condition known as hyponatraemia - after drinking several litres. Recording a verdict of accidental death Pearl Willis, deputy coroner for Berkshire, said: 'Andrew was an emotional individual who had a fascination with drinking water spanning many years. Daily Mail_ 10/30/08

This Water advertisement banned
This Water, part of  UK Innocent Drinks founder Richard Reed's empire, has had an ad campaign banned after it failed to inform consumers there was up to 42g of sugar in each bottle.  The poster campaign featured images of bottles of the drink with the strapline: "Simple, natural, refreshment". Each poster highlights that the drink was made from water and fruit but made no mention of added sugar.  Guardian_10/15/08

Texas runners carry water in One-Of-A-Kind 5K …. lots of water

More than 1,000 runners are expected to trot through Irving’s Hackberry Creek area this fall in a global version of a neighborhood fun run, many of them carrying 50 pounds of water along the way.  The event raises funds for Water Is Basic (WIB), an organization that drills clean water wells in Sudan, Africa for villages that don’t have a source of clean drinking water. Last year’s event raised $15,000 for the cause which funded five new wells in Sudan, providing clean water to approximately 10,000 people.  The event will feature a decidedly uncommon competition pitting teams of water carriers against one another. Teams of runners will carry “Jerry Cans” of water the entire length of the course, replicating a common daily chore undertaken by children in developing countries.  Coppell Gazette Star_10/10/08

California's drought exposes relics in Lake Shasta

There's more than just muddy flip-flops and busted lawn chairs emerging from the depths of Lake Shasta as the reservoir drops to its lowest levels in 16 years. Old bridges, train trestles, tunnels and the foundations from towns long-drowned have begun to pop out of the lake's muddy depths. Lake Shasta last week dropped to 150 feet below its high-water mark, putting it well on track to break the 155-foot mark set in 1992. The lowest the lake ever dipped was in 1977, when the lake dropped to 230 feet below the high-water mark. Redding Record Searchlight_ 10/5/08

Hollow log discovery points to early Virginia water system

For the past year, Max Mellott, assistant superintendent of Leesburg's Utility Maintenance Division and local history buff, has diligently researched the history of Leesburg's water and sewer system. "There's evidence that there was a water system of sorts going back to the [early] 1800s," he said.  In July, that evidence came to life with the discovery of an eight-foot-long hollow log once used to pipe water.  Leesburg used a wooden pipe system during most of the 19th century, the first technological breakthrough that reduced the town's reliance on wells.  Washington Post_10/2/08

September, 2008

Minnesota cop slogs through sewer to get his man, er, kids

In a case of good, old-fashioned, follow-the-footprints crime fighting, a Mankato, Minnesota, police officer slogged five blocks through a storm sewer to apprehend a band of past-curfew juveniles. No one was injured, but the officer is asking the department to buy him a new pair of pants. Mankato Free Press_ 9/29/08

Wisconsin farm awaits approval to turn cow manure waste into clean water

A large, western Wisconsin farm can now turn cow manure into water you could drink. There are more than a thousand cows at Emerald Dairy that produce lots of manure every day. Owner John Vrieze installed an Integrated Separation Solutions system that filters and purifies some of the water in the manure so it’s clean enough to drink. ”We’re not trying to promote it as water you would drink but it’s as clean in many ways as rain water." Because Emerald Dairy is the first to try this, Vrieze says he’s been trying for 30 months to get the permits he needs to discharge this water safely into the environment rather than his manure lagoon that would reduce by more than half the amount of manure that has to be spread on fields. Wisconsin Public Radio_ 9/22/08

Man bottles, sells NYC tap water
A New York man said he has taken to bottling tap water and selling it in local stores in an attempt to keep water "honest and local." Craig Zucker said his Tap'd NY bottled water has been cleared of chlorine and impurities through reverse osmosis so customers can purchase the purest possible New York water, the New York Post reported Thursday.  "We are a for-profit business, but we have a message, which is that water should be kept honest and local. Right now, we let Fiji and France ship water into New York, which is an insult to New Yorkers," Zucker said. Zucker's said his friends and family don't know what to think of his latest business venture. "Either they said it was the most brilliant idea they'd ever heard, or the stupidest," he said.  UPI_9/18/08

'Flow'  -- the movie
Irena Salina's documentary looks at all things water and the effects a dwindling supply has on health, prosperity and security.  As if we didn't have enough to worry about, the quietly apocalyptic "Flow" makes a good case that what's going on with our planet's water supply should make you very, very afraid. Any film that begins with a bleak W.H. Auden quote ("Thousands have lived without love, not one without water") is not going to be a ray of sunshine in anyone's life.  Made over a five-year period by director Irena Salina, who went all over the world and talked to an impressive list of experts, "Flow" (which also stands for "For Love of Water") is a smartly done, involving look at a number of interrelated water issues.  LA Times_9/12/08

Detroit Zoo will remove Kilpatrick's name from water tower

Now that Detroit's Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick is resigning, Detroit Zoo officials said his name will be removed from the water tower at 10 Mile and Woodward within weeks. In recent months, the public has clamored for the removal of the mayor's name as news continued to surface on the mayoral scandal. For now, there are no plans to replace his name with that of his successor nor change the zoo's name, though the city is no longer providing funding, said zoo spokeswoman Patricia Mills Janeway. By next spring, the tower will be rewrapped with the new logo of the Detroit Zoological Society, which took over operations of the 125-acre zoo in 2006. Detroit News_ 9/5/08

August, 2008

Arctic ice 'is at tipping point'

Arctic sea ice has shrunk to the second smallest extent since satellite records began, US scientists have revealed. The National Snow and Ice Data Center (NSIDC) says that the ice-covered area has fallen below its 2005 level, which was the second lowest on record. Melting has occurred earlier in the year than usual, meaning that the iced area could become even smaller than last September, the lowest recorded. Researchers say the Arctic is now at a climatic "tipping point". BBC News_ 8/28/08

Boston police put damper on water balloon fight

A horde of green bandana-clad warriors descended on the intersection of Harvard and Brighton avenues in Allston yesterday, screaming, squirting, and slinging water balloons until Boston police, who said the fun was getting out of hand, stepped in to break it up. Answering the call of a local arts group, nearly 100 combatants, clad in wrestling masks, trucker hats, and military fatigues and armed with squirt pistols, hydrocannons, and water balloons, engaged in an impromptu public display of late-summer zaniness. The event, dubbed Allston Squirt Gun Day, was put on by a group of local artists calling themselves The Clone Collective. The battle was the second squirt gun war in Boston this month. Boston Globe_ 8/24/08

St. Paul, Minnesota ballpark becomes 'Skinny Water Stadium'

A baseball team that often pokes fun at the conventions of the sport has joined forces with a beverage marketer for a promotion that simultaneously celebrates and sends up the naming of stadiums after corporate sponsors. The St. Paul Saints, a minor-league team in St. Paul, Minn., signed a deal with the Skinny Nutritional Corporation, which distributes the Skinny Water line of beverages, to rename Midway Stadium — its ballpark for all 16 of the team’s seasons — as Skinny Water Stadium. The tongue-in-cheek aspects of the agreement could be found in the fine print: The renaming lasted for just a week, from last Sunday through Saturday. The name has since reverted to Midway Stadium. New York Times_ 8/11/08 (logon required)

July, 2008

Two submarines reach bottom of Russia's Lake Baikal

Two small, manned submarines reached the bottom of Lake Baikal, the world's deepest freshwater lake, on Tuesday in a show of Moscow's resurgent ambitions to set new records in science. The Mir-1 and Mir-2 submersibles descended 1,680 meters to the bottom of the vast Siberian lake in a mission led by Artur Chilingarov, a scientist and State Duma deputy who was part of an earlier mission to the North Pole that sparked criticism in the West. Tucked away in the remote hills of southeast Siberia, where Russia borders China and Mongolia, Lake Baikal is home to some of the world's rarest types of fish and other water life. The scientists will take samples of water and soil from the lake, which is home to more than 1,700 species of plants and animals. They also will plant a small pyramid bearing the Russian flag in the lake bed. Moscow Times_ 7/29/08

U.S. border agents find 49 people hiding in a water truck

Forty-nine people being smuggled into the United States near San Diego, California, were found yesterday packed inside the metal tank of a water truck that a Border Patrol agent noticed near the notorious Smuggler's Gulch. The truck was coming out of a construction area, its driver apparently trying to blend in, when the agent saw that it didn't have a license plate, said Border Patrol Agent Jason Rodgers. He said most of the 49 people agents found inside the truck's cylindrical water tank were in the first stage of dehydration. Three of the women were pregnant – one eight months, and the others three and five months. Another woman inside the tank had a dislocated ankle, Rodgers said. He said all received medical evaluations and treatment. The next step is to try to determine what country each person came from, then deport them. San Diego Union-Tribune_ 7/26/08

Continental Airlines to cut the amount of drinking water on board

Continental Airlines is reducing the amount of drinkable water and magazines on its flights. And planes are switching to a lighter, more durable life vest. The Houston-based carrier on Thursday reported those and other cost-saving measures aimed at the soaring cost of fuel. Continental said a combination of record high fuel prices, weakening economic conditions and a weak dollar resulted in the worst financial statement for the airline since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Cleveland Plain Dealer_ 7/17/08

Seattle's automated toilets go way of the box and chain

After spending $5 million on its five automated public toilets, Seattle is calling it quits. In the end, the restrooms, installed in early 2004, had become so filthy, so overrun with drug abusers and prostitutes, that although use was free of charge, even some of the city’s most destitute people refused to step inside them. The dismal outcome coincides with plans by New York, Los Angeles and Boston, among other cities, to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars for expansion this fall in their installation of automated toilets — stand-alone structures with metal doors that open at the press of a button and stay closed for up to 20 minutes. The units clean themselves after each use, disinfecting the seats and power-washing the floors. Seattle officials say the project here failed because the toilets, which are to close on Aug. 1, were placed in neighborhoods that already had many drug users and transients. New York Times_ 7/17/08 (logon required)

June, 2008

Portland, Oregon reservoir nearly loses millions of gallons of water because of skinny dippers

Two people caught skinny dipping in a Portland reservoir that is a main source of water for the city nearly caused officials to dump millions of gallons of water and close the facility. But the two were swimming in a section of the reservoir that was not being used. Had that section been in use, water bureau officials say they would have had to dump millions of gallons of water from that pool and possibly shut off the reservoir. AP/ABC News_ 6/30/08

Trace amounts of caffeine found in Scottsdale, Az. water
Maybe it's from all those lattes that Scottsdale residents like to drink. Recent tests of Scottsdale's water supply detected only one pharmaceutical compound in the H{-2}0 - "an infinitesimal trace of caffeine," the city reported Thursday. In May, Scottsdale tested its water in response to reports that pharmaceuticals were appearing in some municipal supplies nationwide. The only positive detection was for caffeine. The test found water there contained 3.6 ng/l (nanograms per liter) of caffeine. At that level, a person would have to drink 5.6 million gallons of water to ingest the amount of caffeine in one cup of coffee. That volume of water would equal more than eight Olympic-size swimming pools, according to the city.  Arizona Republic_6/27/08 logon required

"Here lies One Whose Name was writ in Water"

Poet John Keats penned his own tombstone inscription at age 25 when he was dying of consumption. An essay on Keats and poets. Washington Post_ 6/21/08

Biffy, the bidet invention, eases bathroom woes

Nevada-based physician Dr. Warren Smith has invented the Biffy, a bidet attachment designed to relieve common problems associated with using traditional toilet paper. The founder of the American Biffy Company said the bidet attachment "is a great solution for those suffering from a variety of rectal and vaginal issues." In a simple, one-step motion, the Biffy delivers a fan of fresh water to a user's bottom, thoroughly rinsing the area clean. Since only water makes contact with the skin, there is no touching or rubbing of sensitive areas, which helps alleviate discomfort associated with using dry paper. Originally designed for a patient with no arms below the elbows, Smith's invention has steadily grown in popularity and has been a proud fixture in many bathrooms across the country. News Release_ 6/17/08

You know it had to happen

WaterWebster staff report

June 10, 2008

(Editors: To reprint this story at no cost, click here.)

More than 500 exhibitors and 10,000 visitors gathered at Atlanta’s Georgia World Conference Center this week to discuss all things water. It was the American Water Works Association’s 2008 conference and the exhibits included aisles and aisles of water-related equipment, like water tanks, purification systems, pipe distribution systems and, of course, leak detectors. At the entrance to the booth run by Cartegraph, an Iowa firm that makes communications software systems to track water mains and other equipment, booth visitors were greeted by, what else? A drop of water from the ceiling. “We have acres and acres of roof space,” said Ashley Boatman, spokesperson for the World Conference Center, “and sometimes with all of this space it’s difficult to know where the leaks are until it rains.” Thunder storms Monday night apparently caused the drip outside the Cartegraph exhibit but Boatman said conference center workers would “be right on it.” It wasn’t a big drip said Shane Gardner, Cartegraph’s strategic territory manager, “just once every so often.” And just often enough to catch the attention of surprised visitors.

Agency in New York City fails to pay water bill for 22 years: Balance due $4.5 million

William C. Thompson Jr., the city comptroller, said an audit revealed that the Economic Development Corporation had not paid any water or sewer bills at the Brooklyn Army Terminal for 22 years, for a total of $4.5 million. During a press conference at his office in Lower Manhattan, Mr. Thompson said that he was outraged that the agency was so delinquent, not only in failing to pay its bills, but also in not bothering to contact the city’s Department of Environmental Protection, which runs the water system, since 1989. It was especially galling, he said, that city agencies owed millions for water at a time when water rates have increased by double digits in recent years. Mr. Thompson said that he was concerned that many other agencies were also delinquent in their water bills. So he has called Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg to conduct a citywide review. “It’s unconscionable,” he said, using one of Mr. Bloomberg’s signature words. The Economic Development Corporation, which controls the Brooklyn Army Terminal in Sunset Park, did not immediately return a call. Neither did the mayor’s office. New York Times_ 6/9/08

Washington, D.C. temperature ties record and a neighborhood loses water pressure

The 98 degree reading tied a 1999 record and dozens of Southeast residents were without water or had little water pressure yesterday as a result of residents turning on about 25 fire hydrants in the area. D.C. Water and Sewer Authority spokeswoman Michele Quander-Collins said many residents were without water. Quander-Collins said some residents complained that as soon as WASA employees arrived to close a hydrant, neighbors would return and open it again. However, Quander-Collins said things appeared to improve as the evening went on, and it appeared possible that hydrants were being shut off. Anticipating the possibility of hydrant problems again today, WASA officials wanted to remind the public that unauthorized hydrant use is unlawful, dangerous and damaging. Washington Post_ 6/8/08

May, 2008

UK schoolboy names Antarctic iceberg 'Melting Bob'

Melting Bob is three times the size of Greater London with a surface area of 1,985sq miles (5,141sq km) and had been referred to by a codename - C19A. But Max Dolan, aged six, from Winchester, won the Scott Polar Research Institute competition. Organisers said it is the first time an iceberg has been known other than by its numeric codename and co-ordinates. Scientists will track Melting Bob over the next decade in the Southern Ocean. Max beat 500 entrants to the prize. "The iceberg bobs in the water and is melting", Max said about his inspiration. Entries were judged by Professor Julian Dowdeswell, the director of the Scott Polar Research Institute at Cambridge University, and author Dame Jacqueline Wilson. "I like the name because it encompasses the two ways in which icebergs become smaller - by melting, of course, but also by fragmentation which is caused by flexing in ocean waves," said Prof Dowdeswell. "This flexing could be regarded as the bobbing of the winning suggestion." Melting Bob was created in May 2002 when it cleaved from the Ross ice shelf. BBC News_ 5/31/08

Pump for space station toilet loaded onto shuttle

After being rushed in from Russia, a toilet pump was loaded into space shuttle Discovery today just in time for this weekend's liftoff to the international space station, where the lone commode is acting up. A NASA employee based in Moscow hand-carried the pump on a commercial flight that touched down Wednesday night. Within hours, the pump and related equipment were packed away aboard Discovery. Discovery is scheduled to blast off Saturday on a 14-day mission. For the past week, the two Russian and one American men have had to periodically manually flush the urine side of the Russian-built toilet. The job takes 10 minutes and requires two people. "Insert that into your daily life and you can see it would be quite inconvenient," Kirk Shireman, NASA's deputy space station program manager, said at a news conference. The solid-waste part of the toilet is working properly. AP/Houston Chronicle_ 5/29/08

Singer Celine Dion top water user on drought-stricken Florida's 'Treasure Coast'

Utility records show that some of the Treasure Coast's biggest users live along Martin County's coastline, including wealthy Jupiter Island, where homeowners use up to 1.6 million gallons a month - more than 250 times the average amount used by residential customers served by Martin County utilities. The area is near Palm Beach on Florida's Atlantic coast. For the 12 months that ended in March, the title of top water-guzzler went to Renlec Management, the Montreal-based company of Canadian singer Celine Dion, who owns 5.7 acres in the island town. In a year, the property used about 6.5 million gallons of water, or enough to fill a 50-gallon bathtub about every four minutes. Representatives of Dion's company didn't respond to requests to comment on water use at the site, where an old house has been razed to make way for a 9,800-square-foot home under construction. Golfer Tiger Woods' 12-acre Jupiter Island estate, where a home is under construction, used about 3.7 million gallons of water in that period, averaging about 310,700 gallons a month. Much of that went to irrigating new landscaping and large native trees, which had to be transplanted, according to an e-mail from Christopher Hubman, who serves on the board of Woods' charitable foundation. Plans call for an on-site reverse osmosis facility that would eliminate the need for utility water for irrigation, he said. With few exceptions, Treasure Coast residents are limited to watering their lawns no more than twice a week because of the lingering drought. The rules allow more frequent watering for new landscaping. Palm Beach Post_ 5/24/08

Drinking water can hurt babies under six months

Babies younger than six months old should never be given water to drink, physicians at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore remind parents. Consuming too much water can put babies at risk of a potentially life-threatening condition known as water intoxication. "Even when they're very tiny, they have an intact thirst reflex or a drive to drink," Dr. Jennifer Anders, a pediatric emergency physician at the center, told Reuters Health. "When they have that thirst and they want to drink, the fluid they need to drink more of is their breast milk or formula." Because babies' kidneys aren't yet mature, giving them too much water causes their bodies to release sodium along with excess water, Anders said. Losing sodium can affect brain activity, so early symptoms of water intoxication can include irritability, drowsiness and other mental changes. Other symptoms include low body temperature (generally 97 degrees or less), puffiness or swelling in the face, and seizures. Reuters/MSNBC_ 5/21/08

Virtual water cooler: Researchers try to re-create office interactions

Once upon a time, people bonded with their co-workers on office softball teams and traded gossip at the water cooler. OK, so those days aren't gone yet. But as big companies parcel Information Age work to people in widely dispersed locations, it's getting harder for colleagues to develop the camaraderie that comes from being in the same place. Now, technology researchers are trying to replicate old-fashioned office interactions by transforming everyday business software for the new era of work. AP/Chicago Tribune_ 5/19/08

Mets game delayed by water main break

The break at neighboring Citi Field delayed the start of the Mets-Pirates game at Shea Stadium by 40 minutes. The break affected water pressure at Shea. Areas such as bathrooms and concessions on the upper levels were affected. Newsday_ 5/1/08

April, 2008

Water making your pizza taste funny? Clone your own

Iron Chef Mario Batali says, "Water is huge. It's probably one of California's biggest problems with pizza." Water binds the dough's few ingredients. Nearly every chemical reaction that produces flavor occurs in water, says Chris Loss, a food scientist with the Culinary Institute of America. "So, naturally, the minerals and chemicals in it will affect every aspect of the way something tastes." Batali himself encounters the water problem at his upscale New York restaurant Del Posto, where he makes traditional Italian food. The tap water in Manhattan is far different from that of the motherland. His solution: create his own mineral-water composite. Working from a chemical analysis of l'acqua italiana, Batali's team basically clones the H2O that gives the food in Italy its — well, its gestalt. He plans to do this at Pizzeria Mozza in LA." Wired_ 4/21/08

Could you drink, bathe and clean using just 20 litres a day?

Full marks to those who keep a tight rein on their carbon footprint, but don't relax just yet: water is the new carbon, and our engorged water footprints need to be scrutinised before the rivers really do run dry. The phrase "water footprint" was coined to describe the embedded or "virtual" water in a food or industrial product – the real volume of water used to create that product. It is difficult to avoid using products which have not been involved in a water-intensive process somewhere along the line, and the figures are staggering: it takes 1,760 litres to get one pint of milk out of a cow and into your fridge; a kilogram of cheddar swallows up 5,000 litres. There is also, of course, plenty of water embedded in everyday activities other than eating, such as washing, cooking and cleaning. The average Brit splashes about 155 litres of water each day, compared with 20 litres for most people living in sub-Saharan Africa. Water might flow freely from our taps, but our small island is not immune to global shortages. Water is a limited commodity, and is becoming more expensive as its supply grows more difficult to guarantee. The Independent_4/24/08

Samsung secretive about water-powered cell phone

Samsung's plans for a water powered cell phone were recently leaked; no, not that kind of water power -- the modified cell phone design does not use hydroelectricity, but rather breaks apart water and uses the hydrogen obtained for power. Samsung's new plans for water-powered cell phones utilize a metal catalyst that becomes a metal hydroxide in a reversible process, yielding hydrogen. While keeping tight lipped on the details, Samsung is making the bold prediction that our cell phones will be running on water by 2010. Their engineers claim that a working prototype currently provides 10 hours of use. This, according to Samsung, equates to about 5 days of life in a normal use scenario. The engineers say that they are modifying the phone to make it easy to be able to top up on the go (drinking fountain anyone?). Daily Tech_ 4/21/08

March, 2008

Woman crashes car into water -- saves morning coffee

A woman is safe after losing control of her car and accidently driving into the waters of the Oakland Estuary. But on the upside, she saved her morning coffee.  Authorities say the car went into the water a little after 6 a.m. Thursday after its 22-year-old driver apparently lost control of her car while reaching for a cell phone. After the car became lodged in stilts under a home on the water, the driver was able to get out of the car and make it back to shore.  Onlookers say she came ashore still cradling her coffee cup.  AP_3/28/08

Heather Mills 'soaks Paul McCartney lawyer'

The McCartney-Mills divorce hearing ended in farce when Heather Mills reportedly tipped a glass of water over the Beatle's posh lawyer. Mills refused to admit pouring the water, but joked that lawyer Fiona Shackleton, 51, had been “baptised in court”. And a source told The Sun: “Heather tipped the water over Fiona’s head. She didn’t throw it. It was cool, calm and collected. It trickled down Fiona’s neck." The Sun/Daily Telegraph_ 3/18/08

Cleaner water with a wand (no magic required)

Travelers who don’t trust the water from a mountain stream or a hotel-room faucet have often used chemicals or filters to purify it. Now they have a high-tech option as well: swirl the water with a portable, lightweight wand that beams rays of ultraviolet light. The SteriPen JourneyLCD is built to be portable for travelers who fear the tap and for campers who want to do more than filter stream water. The wand can clean up a quart of water that is clear — but could harbor stomach-wrecking microorganisms — in 90 seconds. The high-frequency light damages the DNA of bacteria, viruses and protozoa in the water like giardia and cryptosporidium so they can’t reproduce and create havoc. To make the disinfection process easier for users to monitor, one new device on the market, the SteriPen JourneyLCD($129.95) has a liquid-crystal display that shows a countdown during purification (48 seconds for 16 ounces, 90 seconds for 32 ounces) and a smiley face at the end to signal that the job is done. The lamp that creates the ultraviolet light, which has a wavelength of 254 nanometers, is good for 10,000 treatments — about 2,500 gallons of water — said Miles Maiden, inventor of the SteriPen and the chief executive of Hydro-Photon. Meridian Design, of San Jose, Calif., also makes a portable ultraviolet water purifier, the mÜV ($49 at the company Web site, that is rechargeable, said Dan Matthews, president of the company. The unit is in limited production, Mr. Matthews said. New York Times_ 3/2/08 (logon required)

February, 2008

Crime-fighting tool: Hair reveals where murder victims drank water

University of Utah scientists developed a new crime-fighting tool by showing that human hair reveals the general location where a person drank water, helping police track past movements of criminal suspects or unidentified murder victims. "You are what you eat and drink -- and that is recorded in your hair," says geochemist Thure Cerling, who led the research effort with ecologist Jim Ehleringer. The new hair analysis method also may prove useful to anthropologists, archaeologists and medical doctors in addition to police. "We have found significant variations in hydrogen and oxygen isotopes in hair and water that relate to where a person lives in the United States," Ehleringer says. "Police are already using this to reconstruct the possible origins of unidentified murder victims." So a single hair can help determine a person's location during recent weeks to years, depending on the length of the hair sample and thus how much time it took to grow. Science Daily_ 2/26/08

Academy Award celebrity swag special: waterless urinals to two Los Angeles schools

In lieu of a gift, environmentally conscious celebrities attending the Academy Awards will receive a waterless urinal donated on their behalf. Caroma, an Australian plumbing products company known for their dual flush toilets, is giving celebrities the gift of giving back by donating their H2Zero waterless urinals to two charter high schools being built green in South Los Angeles. Caroma, a brand well-known Down Under for helping to conserve Australia's critical water supply, is a world leader in water efficient products including dual flush toilets and waterless urinals which save billions of gallons of water annually. News Release_ 2/22/08

Land-locked Swiss invent underwater car

OK, so the Swiss have invented a car that runs on land and underwater. But did they REALLY have to make it a convertible? It's called the "sQuba," and conjures up memories of James Bond's amphibious Lotus Esprit from "The Spy Who Loved Me." The concept car — which unlike Bond's is not armed — was developed by Swiss designer Rinspeed Inc. and is set to make a splash at the Geneva Auto Show next month. Company CEO Frank Rinderknecht, a self-professed Bond fan, said he has been waiting 30 years to recreate the car he saw Roger Moore use to drive off of a dock. AP_ 2/14/08

A Valentine hint from Listerine? Mouthwash flavors enter Lititz, Pennsylvania water supply

That minty taste and scent in the Lititz borough water supply turned out to be just a broken pipe and leaky gasket at the local Listerine plant. Spokesman John Repetz says the state Department of Environmental Protection found a minor concentration of mouthwash flavors in the water, and four borough wells have been shut down. Three wells are continuing to supply water that meets state requirements to the 20,000 customers of the Lititz system. McNeil Consumer Healthcare says no sewage leaked from the pipe at the Lititz plant where it manufactures Listerine mouthwash. Spokesman Chris Clark says the water is from rinsing containers when flavors are changed. He says the problem area has been bypassed while repairs are under way. AP/Centre Daily Times_ 2/12/08

New York City disputes claim that carriage horses can't get water

An animal welfare group claims that carriage horses along Manhattan's Central Park South aren't getting enough drinking water. But the city says that isn't so. The Coalition to Ban Horse-Drawn Carriages complained Monday that two water troughs in Central Park have been shut off for the season. The city's Health Department, which regulates the horses, said plenty of water is available at hydrants used by carriage drivers with buckets. AP/amNew York_ 2/11/08

Another Australian water tank supplier collapses

Aussie Water Wizards has closed its three stores in Brisbane and the Gold Coast, and its administrators have warned customers will not receive refunds. Aussie Water Wizards owner Bill Mackay could not be contacted, but administrators Worrells Solvency and Forensic Accountants blamed the rebate restructure. "The change in the rebate structure really hurt the market. Everyone is trying to cut corners to keep business," team manager James Plowright said. The state's $1000 rebate for all new water tanks expired in January but from February 1, a $1500 rebate started, but only for people buying 3000 litre tanks or larger. Courier Mail_ 2/10/08

January, 2008

Sax notes lead to off-beat boiler
Inventor and saxophone player Peter Davey has come up with a device that he claims boils water in no time.   He calls it the "sonic boiler" because he claims it uses the power of sound. How the heater actually works has confounded experts.  The device looks oddly like a bent desk lamp, with a metallic ball at the end instead of a lightbulb. When plugged into the power supply, and the ball is lowered into water, it boils the liquid within seconds. "Everybody boils twice the amount of water they need so I decided I would find a way to boil water and make steam more economically," said Davey.  "The principle is beautiful. I have cashed in on a natural phenomenon and it's all about music," he said.  "If I hadn't been playing the saxophone, I probably wouldn't have come up with the idea."  Davey noticed as he played the saxophone at home that everything resonated at a different frequency.  "The glasses will tinkle on one note. Knives and forks in the drawer will tinkle on another note and I realised that everything has its point of vibration," he said. "In the same way, a component in the ball is tuned to a certain frequency."  Davey said it took years of trial and error to get the device to where it is now.   Davey, who turns 92 today, is now looking for a manufacturer who will buy the technology and make the devices for the mass market.  Christchurch News_1/31/08

The claim: Never drink hot water from the tap

The claim has the ring of a myth. But environmental scientists say it is real. The reason is that hot water dissolves contaminants more quickly than cold water, and many pipes in homes contain lead that can leach into water. And lead can damage the brain and nervous system, especially in young children. Lead is rarely found in source water, but can enter it through corroded plumbing. The Environmental Protection Agency says that older homes are more likely to have lead pipes and fixtures, but that even newer plumbing advertised as “lead-free” can still contain as much as 8 percent lead. A study published in The Journal of Environmental Health in 2002 found that tap water represented 14 to 20 percent of total lead exposure. The bottom line: Hot water from the tap should never be used for cooking or drinking. New York Times_ 1/29/08 (logon required)

Southeast U.S. drought may close 3 water rides at Six Flags Over Georgia

A Cobb County Water System official discussed the possible restrictions during a meeting Tuesday with Six Flags officials, according to Six Flags spokeswoman Hela Sheth. The rides discussed were Skull Island, Splashwater Falls and Thunder River. Six Flags also operates the White Water theme park in Marietta. Bob Lewis, general manager of Marietta Power & Water, which supplies the water-ride park, said the utility has not had any discussions with Six Flags about whether the park would be affected by the state's drought restrictions on 61 North Georgia counties. Sheth said Six Flags will cooperate with whatever water officials decide. Atlanta Journal-Constitution_ 1/24/08

Sundance Festival film takes on water profiteers
Documentary film "Flow," premiering at the Sundance Film Festival this week, condemns water profiteering, calling for a UN resolution to make access to clean drinking water a human right. The film by French-born director Irena Salina blasts Paris-based Suez and Vivendi Environment for commercializing water systems around the world, as well as Nestle, the world's largest bottled water seller, for draining watersheds. Even the World Bank gets knocked in the film for funding massive water diversion projects that have displaced 80 million people, instead of smaller, cheaper and more eco-friendly community projects to bring fresh drinking water to the poor.  Along with a collective of activists, Salina is calling for a binding international treaty to protect the human right to water, as well as tougher local laws to prevent contamination of watersheds and water profiteering.AFP_1/23/08

Hmmmmm.  Did I leave the water running?

Overwatering your plants is never a good idea, especially if they're illegal. Police were called to a three-family house in New Haven Wednesday on a report of a water leak from a second floor apartment into the first floor.  Firefighters responded to the apartment, where they say they found a large marijuana growing operation with a leaking watering system.  State and local police returned with a search warrant Thursday and found more than 331 marijuana plants with a street value of about $1.6 million, police said.  Associated Press_1/11/08

FBI turns to a hydrologist to solve D.B. Cooper case

FBI agent Larry Carr has this special theory of how to solve the D.B. Cooper mystery. Maybe, he said, some clever hydrologist armed with satellite technology can trace the Cooper cash found on the Columbia River in 1980 back to the very creek or stream where it fell from the sky on that fabled night in 1971. That might lead to the body of Cooper itself. On Nov. 24, 1971, Thanksgiving eve, the man who bought a ticket as Dan Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle. He collected four parachutes and $200,000 in ransom money in Seattle and then leapt out the back stairwell as the plane flew south somewhere over Ariel, Cowlitz County, Washington, on a cold, nasty, rainy night. And as anyone who lives around here knows, he hasn't been heard from since — a mystery that has fueled 36 years of theories and crazed speculation. "Maybe a hydrologist can use the latest technology to trace the $5,800 in ransom money found in 1980 to where Cooper landed upstream," Carr said. "Or maybe someone just remembers that odd uncle." The Columbian/Seattle Times_ 1/1/08




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