Pure Water Occasional, October 17, 2018
In this early autumn Occasional, you'll hear about pollution caused by dogs, pigs, goldfish, climate change, hurricanes, and tourists. Read about Ear Spring Geyser, per- and polyfluoralkyl substances, Elon Musk, Newark's lead crisis, ppm and ppb. Learn about the dark side of single tank aeration units, the spaghetti jungle of court rulings about water, the importance of the Clean Water Act, how water is prepared for produce washing, how to reduce your water footprint, and as always, there is much, much more.
Water news for the last couple of weeks has, of course, been dominated by the devastating floods caused by Hurricane Michael. Here's what else has been happening...
On September 26th, the US Senate held its first-ever hearing on per- and polyfluoralkyl substances (PFAS). The EPA stated they are currently not planning to change drinking water advisories for the substances. The agency is exploring the possibility of designating PFAS as a hazardous substance which would allow states to initiate cleanup orders. An EPA spokesman said that this could take years to enact. This results in the absurd situation where Vermont has a standard of 20 parts per trillion on five different PFAS while the EPA's national listing is for only two PFAS and the national standard is 70 parts per trillion.
In September, when Yellowstone National Park's Ear Spring Geyser surprised visitors with its largest eruption since 1957, in addition to 200 degree F water it also put out "almost 100 coins, a cinder block, aluminum cans, plastic cups, cigarette butts, a rubber heel insert, old metal signs, a plastic straw, and even a vintage baby pacifier from the 1930s."
An NPR report revealed that Puerto Rico has the worst record in the US for drinking water violations and that lead is an especially under-reported and under-monitored contaminant in Puerto Rico's water.
A woman has filed a $1.56 million lawsuit against an Oregon McDonald's restaurant, claiming her teen daughter was badly burned after being served a cup of water that was too hot.
Elon Musk donated $480K to Flint, MI schools for water filtration systems. Details are scarce, but the plan is to provide lead- and bacteria-free drinking water using UV and lead-removal filters.
The city of Newark has announced a plan to hand out free lead-certified water filters to a large number of residents who are suspected of having lead in their service lines. There are at least 15,000 known properties with lead service lines and another 3,000 suspected of having lead service lines. One site sampled this summer had 182 parts per billion lead. The city is taking action, reluctantly, following court orders that resulted from a lawsuit brought by the Natural Resources Defense Council.
Baltic Sea communities in northermost Europe are experiencing drinking water scarcity due to climate change. "It is being driven by climate change that is tangibly impacting seashore and island communities around the brackish water sea." Full report.
Recent federal court decisions over groundwater pollution and the responsibility of polluters have created what a law professor calls "a spaghetti jungle" that the Supreme Court must untangle. In question is the responsibility for "indirect releases" of pollutants into federally protected waterways. "The US EPA had taken the stance that the release of pollutants into federally protected water from a direct link to groundwater can be liable under the act. The agency under President Donald J. Trump's administration is revisiting that position."
The University of Nevada at Reno has received a $5 million grant to study the impact on agriculture brought about by the change in runoff timing of mountain snowpacks brought about by climate change.
All the fish in Maple Lake in Utah are being killed to rid the the lake of goldfish. In what is not an uncommon situation, goldfish, most likely introduced by well meaning people getting rid of pets, have taken over the lake and are starving out desired species like trout. The accepted way to rid the lake of fish is to introduce the insecticide Rotenone. The insecticide kills all the fish in the lake and then it is later restocked with desirable fish species. Story.
The water shortage in the Gaza strip has reached crisis stage. "Studies point to sharp rises in water-borne ailments, as doctors here forecast an outbreak of epidemic disease due to deteriorating water quality. Already, 97 percent of the water from Gaza’s wells is unfit for human consumption—the result of seawater leaking into the aquifer from severe over-pumping. And because there’s insufficient electricity to run Gaza’s sewage plant, 110 million liters of untreated sewage flows into the Mediterranean every day." More from The Daily Beast.
The Brazilian owned JBS pork processing plant located at Beardstown, IL had the distinction of being selected by the Environmental Integrity Project as the slaughterhouse that discharges more nitrogen into the surrounding waterways than any other slaughterhouse in the nation. According to the study, JBS discharged an average of 1848 pounds of nitrogen per day during 2017. That's a nitrogen discharge equivalent to the wastewater of a city of 79,000 people.
Meat-free Diets Could Cut Our 'Water Footprint' in Half, Say Scientists
by Ben Keane
Three thousand litres of water – that is the amount needed to produce the food each British person eats every day. This is according to a new study into the “water footprint” of diets in Western Europe, conducted by the European Commission and published in Nature Sustainability.
The term “carbon footprint”, which accounts for all the emissions of CO₂ associated with the manufacture or production of an item, has become commonplace in recent years. Similarly, the “water footprint” of food can be calculated using information on the amount of water required during cultivation and processing.
The authors of this new study, led by EC scientist Davy Vanham, first gathered existing data on the water footprint of various foods and drinks. They then combined this with census information for regions within the UK, France and Germany, and knowledge of local eating habits, to calculate how much water is used to feed people in each region and how that could be reduced. Considering the record-breaking heatwave and drought across Europe in summer 2018, their insight may have arrived just in time.
Of the three countries studied, the UK has the smallest average water footprint at 2,757 litres per person per day, in Germany the average is 2,929 and in France it’s 3,861 (for reference, people in the US use more than 9,000 litres per day). One of the standout reasons for the difference between these countries is that the French drink more wine, compared to the Germans and the British who prefer beer, which has a smaller water footprint.
Another feature of this study is the focus on smaller regions which reveals large differences within these countries. A common theme is that rural areas have higher water footprints than cities, mainly due to differences in diet. People in London, for example, eat less red meat than other regions. This is why the UK’s highest footprints (still less than France’s smallest footprint) are found in the south-west, North Yorkshire and Lincolnshire.
In Germany and France this trend manifests as a distinct north-south divide, with the French wine growing regions in the south-west using up to 5,000 litres per person per day. According to the study, another cause of differences within each country is the make up of regional populations. In London, the amount of wine consumed is closely related to the level of education of residents. In other words, water footprint increases with education.
But what does all this mean? Well, 3,000 litres a day adds up to more than a million litres per year — or enough water to fill your local swimming pool three times over. More importantly, a higher water footprint is associated with an unhealthy diet, largely due to meat requiring a lot more water than vegetables or fruit. In all three countries, people “eat too much sugar, oils and fats, (red) meat as well as milk and cheese combined,” write Vanham and colleagues, and in France and Germany “people do not eat enough fruit and vegetables.”
Eating less meat through adopting a “healthy meat” diet could reduce water footprint by up to 35%, the authors say. An even greater saving can be made if meat is replaced by fish, lowering water footprint by 55%, but interestingly moving completely to a vegetarian diet makes around the same savings. Making such changes will not only save water, but will have the additional benefit of improving diet in countries where more than a third of people are overweight and around a quarter obese.
Convincing people to make such a change to their eating habits will not be simple. A number of suggestions are put forward in the study, including punitive measures for “unhealthy” foods, such as a sugar tax. However, such approaches are controversial, with considerable evidence suggesting that they are harmful to low income families. A more subtle approach would be to change the layout of supermarkets, “nudging” shoppers towards more healthy purchases.
Finally, the authors acknowledge that education of the population in dietary matters will be key. But, as their own analysis shows, more education is associated with higher wine consumption, which increases the water footprint.
Ben Keane is a Postdoctoral Researcher, Soil and Plant Science, at the University of Sheffield.
Clean Water Act Dramatically Cut Pollution in U.S. Waterways
by Kara Manke
The 1972 Clean Water Act has driven significant improvements in U.S. water quality, according to the first comprehensive study of water pollution over the past several decades, by researchers at UC Berkeley and Iowa State University.
The team analyzed data from 50 million water quality measurements collected at 240,000 monitoring sites throughout the U.S. between 1962 and 2001. Most of 25 water pollution measures showed improvement, including an increase in dissolved oxygen concentrations and a decrease in fecal coliform bacteria. The share of rivers safe for fishing increased by 12 percent between 1972 and 2001.
Despite clear improvements in water quality, almost all of 20 recent economic analyses estimate that the costs of the Clean Water Act consistently outweigh the benefits, the team found in work also coauthored with researchers from Cornell University. These numbers are at odds with other environmental regulations like the Clean Air Act, which show much higher benefits compared to costs.
“Water pollution has declined dramatically, and the Clean Water Act contributed substantially to these declines,” said Joseph Shapiro, an associate professor of agricultural and resource economics in the College of Natural Resources at UC Berkeley. “So we were shocked to find that the measured benefit numbers were so low compared to the costs.”
The researchers propose that these studies may be discounting certain benefits, including improvements to public health or a reduction in industrial chemicals not included in current water quality testing.
The analyses appear in a pair of studies published in the Quarterly Journal of Economics and the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
Cleaning up our streams and rivers
Americans are worried about clean water. In Gallup polls, water pollution is consistently ranked as Americans’ top environmental concern – higher than air pollution and climate change.
Since its inception, the Clean Water Act has imposed environmental regulations on individuals and industries that dump waste into waterways, and has led to $650 billion in expenditure due to grants the federal government provided municipalities to build sewage treatment plants or improve upon existing facilities.
However, comprehensive analyses of water quality have been hindered by the sheer diversity of data sources, with many measurements coming from local agencies rather than national organizations.
To perform their analysis, Shapiro and David Keiser, an assistant professor of economics at Iowa State University, had to compile data from three national water quality data repositories. They also tracked down the date and location of each municipal grant, an undertaking that required three Freedom of Information Act requests.
“Air pollution and greenhouse gas measurements are typically automated and standard, while water pollution is more often a person going out in a boat and dipping something in the water.” Shapiro said. “It was an incredibly data and time-intensive project to get all of these water pollution measures together and then analyze them in a way that was comparable over time and space.”
In addition to the overall decrease in water pollution, the team found that water quality downstream of sewage treatment plants improved significantly after municipalities received grants to improve wastewater treatment. They also calculated that it costs approximately $1.5 million to make one mile of river fishable for one year.
Comparing costs and benefits
Adding up all the costs and benefits — both monetary and non-monetary — of a policy is one way to value its effectiveness. The costs of an environmental policy like the Clean Water Act can include direct expenditures, such as the $650 billion in spending due to grants to municipalities, and indirect investments, such as the costs to companies to improve wastewater treatment. Benefits can include increases in waterfront housing prices or decreases in the travel to find a good fishing or swimming spot.
The researchers conducted their own cost-benefit analysis of the Clean Water Act municipal grants, and combined it with 19 other recent analyses carried out by hydrologists and the EPA. They found that, on average, the measured economic benefits of the legislation were less than half of the total costs. However, these numbers might not paint the whole picture, Shapiro said.
“Many of these studies count little or no benefit of cleaning up rivers, lakes, and streams for human health because they assume that if we drink the water, it goes through a separate purification process, and no matter how dirty the water in the river is, it’s not going to affect people’s health,” Shapiro said. “The recent controversy in Flint, MI, recently seems contrary to that view.”
“Similarly, drinking water treatment plants test for a few hundred different chemicals and U.S. industry produces closer to 70,000, and so it is possible there are chemicals that existing studies don’t measure that have important consequences for well-being,” Shapiro said.
Even if the costs outweigh the benefits, Shapiro stresses that Americans should not have to compromise their passion for clean water — or give up on the Clean Water Act.
“There are many ways to improve water quality, and it is quite plausible that some of them are excellent investments, and some of them are not great investments,” Shapiro said. “So it is plausible both that it is important and valuable to improve water quality, and that some investments that the U.S. has made in recent years don’t pass a benefit-cost test.”
- PFCs are a class of chemicals that get into drinking water mostly from airports and non-stick cookware. They also originate from industries that create packaging, clothing, and carpeting.
- The United States has been identified as one of the world hot spots for PFC contamination.
- Wherever there are manufacturing facilities, airports, or high populations you will find PFCs in the drinking water and in people’s blood.
- The PFC contamination that has been discovered up to now is just the tip of the iceberg. The worst is to come.
- There are estimated to be over 3,000 chemicals in the PFC class used globally. The EPA has only looked at a handful of these chemicals, including PFOA and PFOS. Those two were phased out in 2015 but they persist in the environment and drinking water. One of the major obstacles researchers face is that they only have methods for testing for some 39 of the thousands of chemicals that exist.
- PFCs are stable in the environment so they don’t break down easily and they bioaccumulate in the body. A CDC study in 2004 found multiple PFCs in almost every individual tested.
- We know most about the chemicals that have been phased out and least about the chemicals that are still in use. What we really know nothing about is the effects of a cocktail of these chemicals in the human body.
- The Water Quality Association has identified and verified through testing the best known treatments for PFCs. These are anion exchange, reverse osmosis, and carbon filtration.
Information above was gathered from a WQA radio podcast featuring speaker Eric Yeggy.
The Very Popular “Single Tank” Aeration Systems for Iron and Hydrogen Sulfide Have Issues
A particular style of iron/manganese/hydrogen sulfide filter that has become very popular in recent years combines aeration in the same treatment tank with the filter media. These are sold under a variety of names, like AIO, “iron breaker,” and “iron ox.” (We call them “single tank aerators.”) It is understandable why these filters are popular. They effectively remove reasonable amounts of iron, manganese, and hydrogen sulfide, they cost less than most alternative methods, they save space, and they are relatively easy to install.
How They Work
Single tank aerators are built like a standard backwashing filter with iron/sulfide media like Filox, Birm, Katalox, or Catalytic Carbon in a “mineral tank” with a control valve on top to backwash the media. They differ from standard filters, however, in that the control valve is a water softener valve modified to draw in air rather than a brine solution. During regeneration, the control valve draws and stores air in the filter tank. During the service run, this compressed air is used to speed up precipitation of the targeted contaminants. Since air is taken in only during regeneration, the regeneration process has to happen often. In most cases, a daily regeneration is required for residential treatment.
In air-induction units, air is drawn in through the screen-protected port during the daily regeneration cycle.
There are a couple of issues that should be kept in mind if you’re considering getting a single tank aeration/filtration unit. One is water usage. Single tank units have to regenerate every night, and they use more water per regeneration than conventional non-aerating filters. The table below looks at water usage for a typical 10″ X 54″ single tank aeration iron filter as compared with a non-aerating conventional iron filter of the same size. The chart assumes the iron level is moderate and the iron filter can be regenerated every third day. The aerating filter must must be regenerated every night to maintain its air charge.
Water Usage of a Conventional Iron Filter vs. an Air Draw Filter
Air Draw Unit, regenerating every day.
Conventional Backwashing Filter, regenerating every third day.
|Regular Backwash Cycle
||10 minutes @ 5 gpm. Total: 50 gallons.
||10 minutes @ 5 gpm. Total: 50 gallons.
|Air Draw Cycle
||40 minutes @ 1 gpm. Total: 40 gallons.
||No air draw cycle. Total: 0.
||1 minute @ 5 gpm. Total: 5.
||2 minutes @ 5 gpm. Total: 10.
||Total Gallons Per Regeneration: 95
||Total Gallons Per Regeneration: 60
||Total Gallons Per Year: 34,675 gallons.
||Total Gallons Per Year: 7,300 gallons.
Stated differently, while a conventional iron filter may use 140 gallons of water per week, an air-induction filter of the same size will use about 665 gallons per week. This is water that is drawn from the well and also waste water that has to be disposed of.
Keep in mind, of course, the aerating system can be much more effective than the conventional filter working without an oxidizing agent. Air provides pre-treatment that could also be done with oxidizers like chlorine, hydrogen peroxide, potassium permanganate, or ozone–all of which come with their own problems and disadvantages. Keep in mind, too, that there are other forms of aeration. The old venturi or “micronizer” systems use no water at all, and the free-standing compressor-p0wered aeration systems (AerMax, for example), cost more initially but are more effective and use only about 2 per cent as much water as the AIO units. (A Pure Water Occasional back issue has a concise explanation of how all three aeration systems work.)
Another issue to be considered is upkeep. Filter control valves running on clean city water usually go years without internal parts failures. Not so with well water filters that have to deal with contaminants like iron and high sediment levels. Filter control valves have inner seals that degrade when exposed to harsh water conditions. Such degradation is regarded as normal wear and tear, and well owners should expect to do fairly frequent maintenance on inner control valve parts like pistons and seals and spacers. While this is true of all iron filters, single tank aeration units are much more prone than standard units to experiencing inner gasket failures. This is probably due in part to frequency of regeneration but it is more specifically because the 40-minute daily air draw cycle dries out and corrodes sensitive inner parts and leads to early failure.
Single tank aerators offer a quick and relatively inexpensive solution to well water problems, but buyers should be aware that they have some drawbacks.
Parts per Million, Parts per Billion
by Pure Water Annie
Gazette technical wizard, Pure Water Annie, solves another of life's perplexing water treatment questions.
The constituents that are dissolved or suspended in water, whether they are natural minerals or serious chemical contaminants, are usually measured in either “parts per million” or “parts per billion.” Another way of expressing the same values is “milligrams per liter” or “micrograms per liter.”
There are a variety of ways to express these same values.
mg/L or ug/L
ppm or ppb
are the same.
The u is sometimes written as the Greek letter µ, but the meaning is the same.
When you read a water test, the first thing you need to notice is what the unit of measurement is. Is the contaminant being reported as parts per million or parts per billion? To say the least, this is important, because one part per million represents a quantity one thousand times greater than one part per billion. I won’t bother with the old “if you cut a pie into a million pieces” explanation.
To convert parts per billion to parts per million, divide by 1,000. If the EPA’s maximum allowable (MCL) for an industrial chemical is 2 ppb, dividing 2 by 1,000 gives you the allowable in ppm: 0.002.
If a water test reports in mg/L, you get the ug/L by multiplying by 1,000. If a test finds 0.015 parts per million of a substance, it’s the equivalent of 15 parts per billion.
Parts per trillion, by the way, is usually expressed as ng/L (nanograms per liter) and 1 ug/L = 1000 ng/L.
It is hard to think through the relationships between water contaminants because they vary so greatly and are seldom expressed in the same denomination. For example:
The current “allowable” (MCL) for nitrates (which many cities in Iowa are finding hard to meet) is 10 parts per million. That’s 10,000 parts per billion, or 10,000,000 parts per trillion.
The current allowable for arsenic is 0.010 parts per million. That’s 10 parts per billion or 10,000 parts per trillion.
The current allowable for lead is 0.015 parts per million. That’s 15 parts per billion or 15,000 parts per trillion.
There is no national allowable for the likely carcinogen 1,2,3 -Triclopropane (TCP), but California’s proposed limit is 5 parts per trillion. That’s 0.005 parts per billion or 0.000005 parts per million.
The Gazette's Great Water Pictures Series:
Annie Edson Taylor And Her Famous Barrel
Annie Edson Taylor (October 24, 1838 – April 29, 1921) was an American adventurer who, on her 63rd birthday, October 24, 1901, became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
Annie Edson Taylor’s trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel brought her some attention for a short time but never the fortune she hoped for. Here’s an account of the event from history.com.
On October 24 in 1901, a 63-year-old schoolteacher named Annie Edson Taylor becomes the first person to take the plunge over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
After her husband died in the Civil War, the New York-born Taylor moved all over the U. S. before settling in Bay City, Michigan, around 1898. In July 1901, while reading an article about the Pan-American Exposition in Buffalo, she learned of the growing popularity of two enormous waterfalls located on the border of upstate New York and Canada. Strapped for cash and seeking fame, Taylor came up with the perfect attention-getting stunt: She would go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
Taylor was not the first person to attempt the plunge over the famous falls. In October 1829, Sam Patch, known as the Yankee Leaper, survived jumping down the 175-foot Horseshoe Falls of the Niagara River, on the Canadian side of the border. More than 70 years later, Taylor chose to take the ride on her birthday, October 24. (She claimed she was in her 40s, but genealogical records later showed she was 63.) With the help of two assistants, Taylor strapped herself into a leather harness inside an old wooden pickle barrel five feet high and three feet in diameter. With cushions lining the barrel to break her fall, Taylor was towed by a small boat into the middle of the fast-flowing Niagara River and cut loose.
Knocked violently from side to side by the rapids and then propelled over the edge of Horseshoe Falls, Taylor reached the shore alive, if a bit battered, around 20 minutes after her journey began. After a brief flurry of photo-ops and speaking engagements, Taylor’s fame cooled, and she was unable to make the fortune for which she had hoped. She did, however, inspire a number of copy-cat daredevils. Between 1901 and 1995, 15 people went over the falls; 10 of them survived. Among those who died were Jesse Sharp, who took the plunge in a kayak in 1990, and Robert Overcracker, who used a jet ski in 1995. No matter the method, going over Niagara Falls is illegal, and survivors face charges and stiff fines on either side of the border.
Water Quality Depends on More Agressive Pet Excrement Control
by Tiger Tom
|Editor’s Note: Veteran Gazette columnist Tiger Tom is no friend of dogs (see Tiger Tom’s Dog Products Page and Tiger Tom’s Tales of Dogs), and he gets extra steamy when he sees a pile of canine excrement on a lawn or sidewalk. Dog manure is not only an aesthetic nuisance; it is a major source of water pollution–a problem we conveniently ignore in deference to “man’s best friend.” Tiger Tom is dead serious when he tells us that Bowser may be cute to his owner, but to the rest of us he’s just a smelly, expensive manure machine. –Hardly Waite.
A great environmentalist has said that the best thing an individual can do to help the planet is to serve his dog for dinner. That may sound radical, but the idea has merit. Dogs are without question the worst news possible for planet Earth. These pampered gluttons consume vast amounts of resources, contribute nothing useful in return, and, worst of all, leave behind piles and piles of the foulest dung imaginable. And they are not at all particular about where they leave it.
Gazette numerical wizard B. Sharper has written at length on the damage done to water supplies by droppings by the world’s far-too-numerous canines. Here are a couple of Bea’s findings:
According to a Seattle study, the percentage of watershed pollution that can be attributed to dog wastes–20.
Daily excrement output of these dogs, in tons–30,000.
Yearly excrement output of these dogs, in tons–10,000,000.
Number of 18-wheel tractor trailer trucks that would be required to haul away 10,000,000 tons of dog manure–267,500.
Length in miles of the caravan made by these 267,500 manure wagons if they were lined up bumper to bumper–3800.
Approximate percentage of Americans who don’t pick up their dogs’ feces–40%
It is about this last item, the irresponsible 40% who don’t pick up after their slobbery mutt, that I want to speak. Forty percent is a lot of people, when you consider that 60% of American families now have at least one dog, and some have way more than one.
An article in Stormwater suggested some ways to try to make the irresponsible responsible. Although the Stormwater article does not mention my own “serve your dog for dinner” remedy, here are a few of their ideas:
Turn Spot’s Droppings into Something Useful.
From Massachusetts to the UK, dog waste is being converted into fuel to power everything from streetlights to homes. At Pacific Street Dog Park in Cambridge, Mass., a methane digester known as The Park Spark project transforms dog droppings into methane, which powers a lamppost. The park provides biodegradable bags to dog walkers, and encourages people to drop waste into the digester’s feeding tube. Across the pond in Chester, England, renewable energy company Streetklean is using a similar anaerobic digestion system to convert dog poo into energy that heats and powers residences.
It’s not uncommon for cities or apartment complexes to fine people who leave dog waste behind, but some properties take clean-up duty more seriously than others. For example, Twin Ponds apartments in Nashua, N.H. is one of many properties that requires tenants with dogs to use a “PooPrints” pet DNA sampling kit when they move in. If feces is found on the grounds, property managers simply send the sample to BioPet Vet Labs, learn the dog’s identity and fine the resident.
I, Tiger Tom, believe it would be entirely reasonable to require DNA samples from all dogs to be held in a national dog crap identification registry to be consulted any time an unidentified dog chunk is found in a public place. Here is a low tech variation on the same idea in which the public act as detectives to bust the irresponsible dog owner:
The small town of Brune, Spain, has reported a 70-percent decrease in dog waste since its campaign in which it returned dog poo to the rightful owner. For a one-week period, volunteers approached dog owners who left their pet’s droppings behind and struck up a conversation with the goal of learning the dog’s name. “With the name of the dog and the breed it was possible to identify the owner from the registered pet database held in the town hall,” a spokesman from the council related. When the guilty dog owner’s address was confirmed, the poop was placed in a box labeled “Lost Property” and delivered via courier to the person’s home.
Similarly, the Blackburn City Council in England announced a program to publicly post the names and photos of people who don’t clean up after their canine criminals. The city called on the public’s help, asking residents to be the eyes of ears of the pilot program by snapping culprits’ photos and reporting them to the council. The report does not mention if capital punishment was an option after identification of the mutt owner. Most of the schemes are way too nice. In Mexico City, dog owners get free WiFi for picking up after their mangy mastiff. “When people deposit bags of dog droppings into a special bin, it calculates the weight, and Internet portal Terra gives everyone in the park free minutes of WiFi. The greater the weight, the more time people have to surf the Web.”
These, of course, are cutesy non-answers to a real problem. A steamy pile of dog dung isn’t just a disgusting inconvenience: when it makes it into the water supply, it carries major bacteria and cysts. USA Today says that you can measure the canine population by measuring the fecal matter in the water:
From mutt to blue-blooded champion, all dogs harbor so-called coliform bacteria, which live in the gut. The group includes E. coli, a bacterium that can cause disease, and fecal coliform bacteria, which spread through feces. Dogs also carry salmonella and giardia. Environmental officials use measurements of some of these bacteria as barometers of how much fecal matter has contaminated a body of water.
I, Tiger Tom, say that polluting the public water supply is an attack on the public. Dare I call it terrorism?
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