New York City water: Where does it come from and where does it go?

crotonThe wife of the editorial staff of turned us on to this cool interactive animation that gives the inside scoop on the ginormous NYC water delivery system. It was posted by the American Museum of Natural History.

Somewhat sketchy and basic, it nonetheless demonstrates the complex immensity–not to mention the immense complexity–of the largest water-delivery system on the planet.

Advertisements’s first coloring contest (with prizes)! thinks outside the lines thinks outside the lines

A second-childhood vibe prevails at as we kick off our second century of posts. We’re once again all tingly with a childlike sense of awe about water and its wonders and–like the good kids we are–we want to share.

So, break out your crayolas, pastels, color pencils, oil paints, watercolors, gouache, egg tempera ( duh, not tempura, but food coloring of any ethnic variety is encouraged!) paintbrushes, q-tips, eyeliner pencils, airbrushes, paintball guns, or painting/drawing software and enter’s first coloring contest! You may even win a prize*!

The good people at the Groundwater Foundation (we’ll let them explain themselves) have created a Kids Corner chockablock with resources to bait-and-switch blissfully innocent children into learning about groundwater, water science, and conservation.

We downloaded their PDF of the water cycle coloring sheet, converted it to a jpeg, and uploaded it to the Coloring Contest Gallery!

How to Enter:

  1. Click on the coloring-sheet image or here to get there,
  2. Download the image,
  3. get all creative on it, (Analog methods like coloring with real crayons or paints obviously requires scanning. You could use an online image editor like, which looks like fun!)
  4. sign it, and
  5. finally, upload your masterpiece to the gallery by attaching it to an email message addressed to . (Sorry, encoded to avoid spambots. Replace “at” with @ and “dot” with “.”)
  6. Let us know you entered by leaving a comment on this post.

The first ten entrants will win a Water Cycle in a Bag that will somehow bear the logo! Our panel of water experts and art aficionados will pick a grand prize winner, upon whom we will bestow either a copy of the Groundwater Foundation’s Rainmakers: A Photographic Story of Center Pivots or editor Tara Lohan‘s recently published Water Conciousness.

We can imagine some stick-in-the-mud out there thinking, “Hey,, this all strikes me as kind of childish.” Hey, dude, it’s childlike, not childish, OK? So, nyaa-nyaa-nyaa-nyaa-nyaaaaaaa!

But if your inner child has run away from home and you insist on being all grown-up and uptight about the water cycle (and maybe want to impress your date by casually dropping hip hydrological terms like sublimation and streamflow), click on the image at left to go to the U.S. Geological Survey’s information-drenched Water Cycle page. You’ll be glad you did, and we’ll be glad that you’re not here spoiling our fun.

*Void where prohibited.

Bookmark and Share

Speedblogging with Editor in Chief’s log
Time: 6:08 a.m.

I visit, go to the blogroll and click on WaterWired, hosted by water guru Michael Campana. I scroll down to the recent entry titled Jared’s Getting Serious With…Ground Water. I note with great pleasure that Mikie likes it. Anyone familiar with the wide world of water wonks knows that that’s a huge deal. I click on the title, copy the url, create the link, and write this. Editor in Chief’s log
Time: 6:09 a.m.

I note that Michael can’t resist offering additional groundwater* links. (*Alternatively, and controversially, ground water. Per Michael, this orthographic conundrum is the wedge issue that divides ground water aficionados. I have no views on the issue until I check with Michael.) Editor in Chief’s log
Time: 6:11 a.m.

I get up and take medications before I forget and pour a cup of coffee. I sip coffee and–to the tune of heat-stirred crickets–look out the window at the pine, oak, and bay trees that spike the crest of the hill across the valley. I note that they are crisply silhouetted against the sublime peach-like glow of the sky that transmutes in imperceptible gradations into the violet expanse overhead in which a few stars still twinkle. It’s been hot in Northern California, and the night was uncomfortably warm, but dawn offers a brief respite in the form of a small delicious breeze that comes through the window and caresses the ripped musculature of the underwear-only-clad body of the editor. . . Suddenly I remember that I’m speedblogging and rush back to the computer and write this very quickly. Editor in Chief’s log
Time: 6:15 a.m.

I note that the spellchecker is alarmed by my first stab at silhouetted. I check the dictionary and correct the first and second instance. I write that I did this. I wonder why I always forget how to spell silhouette and reflect on the arbitrary nature of the spelling system of our bastard language, a mélange, if you will–or if you won’t, it really doesn’t have anything to do with you–of anglo-saxon and latinate roots. I predict that there will be more on this later and see that spellchecker rejects spellchecker, but screw it. I write this. Editor in Chief’s log
Time: 6:18 a.m.

I note with great irritation that there is an inexplicable line space between the heading and time stamp of each entry and that I have to go into html view to remove each. What is up with that? And why is it that I can remove the spaces in the html view, not by removing errant code causing them–because there isn’t any–but by backspacing as if it were in visual mode, but I can’t do that in visual mode? I admit that, nonetheless, WordPress seriously rocks, and is free, except for the upgrades. I write this. Editor in Chief’s log
Time: 6:30 a.m.

I realize that I need to get back on track, but take the time to reflect on the fact that Michael is kind of like the don of our little waterblogging mafia. We soldiers have to listen closely to his seemingly offhand and innocuous statements, interpret them accurately, and act accordingly. For example, when he says Here are a few additional groundwater links, he’s really saying Hey, Mr. Serious About Groundwater, add these important links to your seriously deficient groundwater entry, now. I go back to Michael’s site and copy his list of additional groundwater sites and paste them in my Getting serious about groundwater posting before I forget. I note with pride that I nailed innocuous without the help of picky Mr. Spellchecker, who ironically can’t even spell his own name. Write this. Editor in Chief’s log
Time: 8:20 a.m.

When googling mélange to find out where the accent mark goes, I go to its Wikipedia entry and learn that in addition to being an English language loan word from the French language, used to mean a mixture of disparate components, a mélange is also a large scale breccia, a mappable body of rock characterized by a lack of continuous bedding and the inclusion of fragments of rock of all sizes.

I ponder the concept of a loan word, and wonder if and when we have to give it back to France. After a little research, I learn that les deadbeats have borrowed and–knowing them–have most likely failed to return a hell of a lot of words that we could totally be using right now. Merci beaucoup, but I think we’ll hang on to mélange for une petite while longer.

Coolly enough, melange (without the accent mark) is also the fictional drug (also known as spice) central to the Dune series of science fiction novels by Frank Herbert and derivative works.

Finally, and deliciously enough, melange (without the accent), refers to the Viennese specialty coffee, the viener melange, which, according to the Wikipedia entry, is “properly coffee with milk and is similar to a Cappuccino but usually made with milder coffee (e.g. mocha), preferentially caramelised.

I get another cup of coffee and wish that it were a viener melange. I note that mean Mr. Spellchecker and I agree on carmelise. That’s just wrong. I puzzle over why Brits insist on misspelling words like caramelize and organize. What do they have against the letter z ? I wonder momentarily how they spell Zorro.

Out of the night, when the full moon is bright, comes a horseman known as Sorro. This bold renegade carves an S with his blade, an S that stands for Sorro.

I decide against a third cup of coffee.

I write all of the above, noting that most of it is not really on message, strictly waterblog-speaking, but darn interesting, at least to me. Editor in Chief’s log
Time: 9:07 a.m.

I post, wondering just where the hell the goddamn time went.

Getting Serious with groundwater

It’s Groundwater Day at! Surely not as much fun as Groundhog Day, but way more important.

Friends don't let friends let groundhogs drive.

Friends don't let friends let groundhogs drive.

Getting serious about groundwater is the way for you to move quickly up the ranks from water wanabee to water wonk, and essential for refining your wretched water table manners, as well.

If you’re thinking groundwater is just water in the ground and what’s all the fuss, go to the Wikipedia page on groundwater. Immediately. We’ll wait here. After you read it, you will know more about groundwater than 90 percent of the planet’s inhabitants. When you return, expand your knowledge with the multimedia extravaganza of groundwater information links that the good folks at have compiled, with a fevered and selfless sense of mission, just for you.

This is the first installment of part 3 of’‘s ever-expanding, increasingly essential, and someday award-winning Getting Serious with series. See top of right column for more. These links barely scratch the surface, but they will keep you busy and out of the bars for a long while, and we will add to and update them regularly. No, really, we will.

Sources from Wikipedia’s article on groundwater. Some are repeated below.

Expert speaking on groundwater at the California Colloquium on Water. Complete with exciting PowerPoint presentation! *See caveat below, in entry about Robert Glennon. From the YouTube summary:

A growing awareness of groundwater as a critical natural resource leads to some basic questions. How much groundwater do we have left? Are we running out? Where are groundwater resources most stressed? Where are they most available for future supply? This presentation discusses how the issues associated with groundwater depletion have evolved, what we know about the Nation’s groundwater reserves today, and approaches to improve upon that knowledge base at the regional and national scale.

A video about groundwater geography in India. Good introduction of the topic.

Groundwater is an essential part of the water cycle. Learn all about the water cycle at’s first annual summer film festival! Admittedly, some of the vids are included for the sake of eliciting hearty chuckles and LOL’s, but you’ll come away with a new appreciation of the water cycle as well as artistic license.

Groundwater Blog

The blog of the non-profit Groundwater Foundation

YouTube – California Colloquium on Water: Robert Glennon on the state of the U.S.’s groundwater

Robert Glennon is an expert on groundwater and the author of “Water Follies,” a grim survey of the current state of groundwater in the U.S. *Caveat: All of the Colloquium’s videos start with some nice lady talking about things that the attendees don’t really seem to care about–and that are obviously going to bore the crap out of’s easily distracted readers–-followed by a professorial type introducing the speaker in a truly lugubrious and overly effusive fashion. Skip that BS and go right to Glennon, a sparking and engaging speaker.

Groundwater. Basic information and diagrams from an Indian site. India has unique groundwater issues, but most of the information is pertinent to any region of the world.

The US Geological Survey Groundwater Resource

The U.S. Geological Survey provides an interactive map that links to 13 chapters which describe the ground-water resources of regional areas that collectively cover the 50 States, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Island

Resources suggested by ground water guru, Michael Campana

Groundwater Resources Association of California

Groundwater Protection Council

American Ground Water Trust

International Association of Hydrogeologists

Geological Society of America – Hydrogeology Division

EPA Office of Ground Water and Drinking Water

Bookmark and Share

The Department of Health in Pennsylvania sucks!

Or so says Merle Wertman, 62, who–along with 131 people near his hometown of Tamaqua, Penn., has been diagnosed with Polycythemia Vera. Don’t know what Polycythemia Vera is? Hey, join the ignoramus club over here at, where even our scrawny hypochondriac of a wheezy copy editor was blissfully unaware of the rare blood disorder, although darned if he isn’t suddenly feeling all symptomatic. According to this article, “. . less than one in 100,000 Americans a year are diagnosed with the extremely rare form of bone marrow cancer, that causes an abnormal increase in blood cells.”

Hold on a sec, there!, the astute but inarticulate reader might say: is concerned about this because. . . ? Isn’t there kind of an out-of-your-bailiwick kinda deal going on here? Well, let us respond with all the tact we can muster that the question is not only poorly stated but also totally out of line, because we can write about whatever the hell strikes our fancy, because it happens to be our blog, OK?

But, that being said (and clearly understood) there’s a reason to believe that toxins from so-called “clean coal” production near Tamaqua is seeping into the area’s groundwater, and possibly contributing in a major way to the high incidence of this cancer.

We’ll let Wertman elaborate on the suckiness he attributes to the aforementioned Pennsylvania Dept. of Health:

He [Wertman] gets angry when he thinks about the blood cancer rate in his hometown and the lack of accountability for its causes. “The Department of Health in Pennsylvania sucks,” he said. “[They] say there’s nothing wrong with the environment around here…It’s bullshit, back and forth.”

Are clean-coal by-products causing Polycythemia Vera? Does the health department of the Keystone State truly suck? We’ll insert the money graf below and then let you loose on the well-written, information-packed, scary-as-hell article, [by Suemehda Sood for the Washington Independent] after which you can make your own assessment of the Pennsylvania Dept. of Health, and hey, let’s throw in the EPA, as well. We insinuate, you decide.

In eastern Pennsylvania’s Carbon, Luzerne, and Schuylkill counties, that surround the Tamaqua borough, the rate of the rare blood cancer is 4.5 times the national rate, according to data from the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR), a federal public health agency of the Dept. of Health and Human Services. The cancer “cluster” (shown on the map below) follows along Ben Titus Road, next to the Big Gorilla coal combustion waste dump of the Northeastern Power Co. The area is also home to the Superfund sites McAdoo Associates, Air Product & Chemicals Inc., Expert Management Inc. and ICI Americas Inc.’s first annual summer film festival! Theme: The water cycle

Ah, yes, the water cycle. The exquisite perfection of the Earth’s perpetual-motion water recycling machinery has inspired filmmakers and high-school geography students since time immemorial, even before the early days of YouTube. What better theme, then, to launch’s gala, celebrity-studded, invitation-only (that’s why you’ve never heard of it) Annual Summer Film Festival?

By any measure, artistic, aesthetic, cinematic, cultural, social, moral, ethical–well, maybe not financial–the event was a smashing success. But now the high-spirited revelry is over, the posh screening rooms are hushed and empty, the sleek glitterati have been whisked away in matching sleek armored limousines accessorized with gun turrets, and the paparazzi have swept up the shards of their cameras that had been pulverized by the glitteratii’s gargantuan, steroid- and meth-powered bodyguards.

Below, presents the proud winners of the future coveted Excellent Trophy for Truly Inspiring Excellence, informally dubbed the Wettie, soon to be a word in a household near you.

Category: Best Inevitable Use of Rap in a Video about the Water Cycle

The Winner:

“The Water Cycle Jump” by Bill Nye, the Science Guy.

“Your mind must be on vacation if you don’t know about evaporation.” Yo, indeed.

Category: Best Well-meaning Public Service Animation about the Water Cycle Gone Terribly, Terribly Wrong

The Winner:

Groundwater Animation produced for the King County (Oregon) Water and Land Resources Division.

Honorable Mention: “The Water Cycle,” produced for NASA. Why?

Honorable Mention: Protect Your Water – Groundwater – Video 9, produced for the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. This is unintentionally unintentionally funny.

Category: Best Scary Musical Performance in a Water Cycle Video

The Winner:

“The Water Cycle Boogie” (skip to 4:30 for the scary musical performance)

Category: Best Two Female High-school Students Making a Half-assed Effort on Their Geography Class Assignment about the Water Cycle

The Winner:

“The Water Cycle Gangsta Rap” by the Real Gangstas

Features a bloopers segment that doesn’t look any different than the rest of the video, except the young scholars giggle.

Honorable mention: “The Water Cycle Boogie” by a couple of high-school girls

Category: Best Use of Minimalist Claymation in a Video about the Water Cycle

The Winner: “Bob and the Water Cycle.”

Bob is a blob.”

Category: Best Video about the Water Cycle Created by–We Guess–a Science Teacher Whom Students Either Love or Consider Weird, or Both

The Winner:

“The Water Cycle” by Mr. Davis.

“Somewhere, out there, the sun is shining on a little puddle. That’s just part of something we call the water cycle.”

Category: Best Tortured Use of Anime in a Video about the Water Cycle that Rips Off the Above-cited Mr. Davis’s Song

The Winner:

Fruits Basket Science Theater’s “The Water Cycle”

Category: Best Inevitable use of “What a Wonderful World” in a Video about the Water Cycle

The Winner:

“The Water Cycle” by Musicmadgirl and RoseyRuthie

Bookmark and Share’s summer reading list, pt. 2

Fun at the beach

By now you’ve devoured the five books that we recommended in’s summer reading list, Part 1. We imagine you staring out at the white beach and azure water and watching fellow vacationers as they swim, fish, snorkel, boat, water ski, jet ski, surf, sail, dig for clams, sing off-key to folk songs they wouldn’t be caught dead listening to, watch for whales and screech maniacally when they hallucinate one, and make languorous love on the cool sand at the water’s edge as the tidewater gently and rhythmically laps at their feet. We imagine you thinking, “Now what the hell am I going to do?” rescues you from the dog-day doldrums with part 2 of our summer reading list. All available at Powell Books.

Water Follies

From the publisher’s comment: [Author Robert Glennon]. . .illustrate(s) the science of hydrology and the legal aspects of water use and conflicts. . .(and offers. . .stories — ranging from Down East Maine to San Antonio’s River Walk to Atlanta’s burgeoning suburbs — that clearly illustrate the array of problems caused by groundwater pumping. Each episode poses a conflict of values that reveals the complexity of how and why we use water. These poignant and sometimes perverse tales tell of human foibles including greed, stubbornness, and, especially, the unlimited human capacity to ignore reality. A great talk by Glennon on this YouTube video posted by the California Colloquium on Water.

Cadillac Desert

From publisher’s comments: Newly updated, this timely history of the struggle to discover and control water in the American West is a tale of rivers diverted and damned, political corruption and intrigue, billion-dollar battles over water rights, and economic and ecological disaster. Winner of the National Book Critics Circle Award.

The Water Atlas

If a picture’s worth a thousand words, a well-made graphic–map, chart, table, or graph–may be worth, ummm. . . 50,000 words? From the publisher’s comments: Plentiful maps, graphs and tables illustrate the cycle of precipitation and condensation, the percentage of cropland watered by irrigation around the world and the way increasing use of chemicals in agriculture is destroying freshwater sources. A section called ‘Re-Shaping the Natural World’ examines the destructive role of dams and other water systems, while another section looks at the potential for international conflict over scarce water resources in regions such as the already volatile Middle East. [Published in 2004; some info dated, no doubt. Ed.]

Design for Water

Breaking from our long-standing tradition of simply whining about water problems, points you to a collection of diy alternative water collection methods. Publisher’s notes: In addition to rainwater, there are several affordable and accessible alternate sources, including cooling tower bleed-off water, air conditioning condensate, gray water, and fog collection. Design for Water is geared to providing those making development decisions and guidelines with the information they need to set up passive harvesting techniques. The book will especially appeal to engineers, landscape architects, municipal decision-makers, developers, and landowners.

Not a Drop to Drink

Hey everybody, let’s all agree that, from this date forward, nobody can use “Water, water, everywhere,” or “Not a drop to drink,” as a title for an article or book about water. Okay? More concise than some of the other overviews of water woes, this is a good introduction and offers potential activists advice on how to take action. From the publisher’s comments: In this straightforward, story-driven book, Ken Midkiff talks to crusty ranchers in Topeka, suited lawyers in Atlanta, and smooth-talking politicians in Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. Using regional and national case studies, he analyzes and presents the roots of the problem, and then says what we must do to solve it. [Emphasis ours. Ed.]