Tag Archives: water

Worcester, watered-down

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Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus has been front and center vis-a-vis environmental issues, energy conservation and green building in Worcester.      photo submitted

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Rose’s bathroom sink runneth over.     pic: R.T.

By Gordon Davis

Worcester has experienced a shortfall of rain for four of five years, ending in 2016. It looks like the shortfall will continue. Although this could be an anomaly, it could also be a pattern. It might be the beginning of a new normal where 38 inches of rain per year is all we get.

As Worcester City Manager Ed Augustus has shown us by standing in the dry ground exposed by low water, Worcester reservoirs are less than half-filled after the five-year shortfall. The intakes for the reservoirs are now above the water level and cannot draw in water.

The City of Worcester has taken some emergency measures, such as buying water from the Massachusetts Water Resource Authority (MWRA) that runs the Quabbin and Wachusett reservoirs. It pays the MWRA $1.7 million per month for the water. The money comes from the City’s general funds. This expenditure will be made for the foreseeable future.

This money is needed elsewhere, such as the public schools.

The City of Worcester has also instituted water use restrictions that have helped to mitigate the shortfall. However, even with the restrictions, the level of water in the reservoirs have not risen above 50 percent.

First of all, let me say that water is a human right. We deserve clean drinking water for no other reason than we are people. The people in Flint, Michigan, are the victims of human rights violations. Throughout the world denial of water could be used as a weapon or a means of genocide and ethnic cleansing.

Secondarily, water is an asset for a region. Like affordable energy, water is vital for a prosperous community. There have been examples of civilizations that cease to exist due to the drought conditions brought on by climate change. The Akkadian Empire, Khmer Empire and the Puebloan Culture are historical examples.

Of course, I am not saying that New England or even Worcester is facing imminent demise. I am suggesting some thought should go into the possibility that 38 inches of rain a year is the new average for the region.

The Worcester City Council has wasted its time and resources on nice but less vital issues such as dog parks and mounted patrols. There should a report from the City Manager on the short-term and long-term effects of the drought on Worcester and how the City plans to respond to it.

As we have seen, the reservoirs of the City will have to be redesigned. This is because 38 inches of rain will not keep them filled. Water use will have to be increasingly recycled. Roof water and runoff should be increasingly harvested …

This issue is actually a state or regional and federal issue.

The redesign and improvements to reservoirs is beyond the budgets of all cities and towns in Massachusetts.

As the federal government has become involved in the improvement of infrastructure like roads and bridges, it will likely have to become involved in the infrastructure of dams and reservoirs of water-short areas.

With the Trump presidency, water infrastructure improvement is unlikely to occur. This is especially true, as both the state voters and our Republican governor voted against the president-elect.

Keeping your dogs out of the heat – always in style!

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Lilac looks so elegant these days! She’s on a summer walk with Jett and Mama Rose.

By Lindsay Pollard-Post

Most dogs love going for walks, romping at the dog park, leaping for Frisbees or sprinting for tennis balls. But during the “dog days of summer,” when temperatures are soaring, letting dogs overexert themselves (or forcing them to) isn’t doing them any favors. In fact, it could do them in.

Dogs simply can’t handle the heat. Unlike humans, they can only cool themselves by panting and sweating through their footpads. When ambient temperatures rise above 89.5 degrees, they can’t effectively shed their body heat, and when their body temperature reaches 106 to 109 degrees, heatstroke sets in, resulting in brain damage or death. Those who are elderly, overweight or flat-faced—such as pugs, boxers, bulldogs and other breeds—are especially at risk.

Making dogs run with you while you jog or bike during hot weather can kill them—they will collapse before giving up, and by then it may be too late to save them. Even those who are used to running and in good physical shape are in danger: Last month, for example, Mojo, a K9 officer with the Arlington Police Department in Texas, reportedly became overheated while pursuing a fugitive. Despite being rushed to an animal hospital, he didn’t survive.

Hot pavement, sand and other surfaces can scorch dogs’ sensitive footpads, causing pain, burns and permanent damage, as well as reflecting heat back onto their bodies. In Arizona last month, a pit bull reportedly died of heat exhaustion while hiking on a trail in 107-degree temperatures. The dog’s guardian called the police for help, but by the time the first responders arrived, it was too late.

You can protect your dog by walking early in the morning and late at night when it’s cooler and always testing the ground with your hand—hot to the touch is too hot for Spot. Choose shady routes, and walk on the grass instead of the pavement. Carry plenty of water and stop often in the shade to rest and take a water break.

Exercise and sweltering temperatures are a deadly combination for dogs, but the ones who can’t move are just as vulnerable on summer days. Countless dogs have suffered and died of heatstroke because they were chained or penned outside with no escape from the blazing sun and blistering heat.

In July, both a puppy and an adult dog in North Carolina reportedly died after their tethers became tangled in a bush, trapping them in direct sunlight with no access to shade or water. Also last month, a Labrador retriever in Maryland reportedly died after being left on a second-story deck in 90-degree weather. According to the police, the deck’s surface was even hotter—109 degrees.

Never leave dogs outdoors unattended, especially in the heat, and if there are chained or penned dogs in your neighborhood, check on them often to ensure that they have water (in a tip-proof container) and shade (as well as food and shelter), and encourage your neighbors to let them live indoors. If they lack these basic necessities, provide them with water and notify local authorities immediately.

It should go without saying, but hot cars are also death traps for dogs. Never leave an animal (or child) in a parked car in warm weather, even for a short period of time with the windows slightly open. Dogs can succumb to heatstroke within minutes—even if the car isn’t parked in direct sunlight. If you see a dog in a hot car, ask nearby businesses to page the vehicle’s owner or call 911 immediately. If the dog appears to be in imminent danger (e.g., rapid panting, bright red tongue, dizziness, vomiting), quickly find a witness who can confirm your account if possible and then take whatever action is necessary to save the animal’s life.

During the “dog days of summer”—and always—keep your dogs safe by keeping them indoors, with air conditioning or fans running and plenty of fresh, cool water available. Special cooling mats and vests for dogs can also help keep them comfortable.

And please, spread the word: Heat kills.

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Lilac and Jett

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Two flower pics taken during our walk:

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And the newbies at Rose’s shack:

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Flower power!!!

Pics:Rose T.

Water is a Human Right

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Water…(pic:R.T.)  

By Gordon Davis
 
The recent low water levels of Worcester’s water reservoirs brought back negative memories from the early 1960s when the east coast of the United States experienced drought-like conditions.  

The west coast of the United States has recently experienced something similar. A lot of people on the east coast are just too young to feel anxiety about low reservoirs.

Yesterday, the Worcester reservoirs were about 89 percent full. They should be 100 percent full and overflowing at this time of the year.

Snowmelt and April showers have been historically the main source of water in the spring.

The reservoirs are then drawn down by use over the summer and fall. The low levels of Worcester’s reservoirs today could mean water rationing later in the year.

I cannot say that this is due to Global Warming, but it is one of my fears.

When I was growing up in the 1950s in the streets of Philadelphia, there was abundant water. Philadelphia got most of its water from the Delaware and Schuylkill rivers. Because there was plenty of water, the City turned on the fire hydrants in the summer. We kids played in the flooded streets!

As the water basins for these rivers dried up, the salt from the Atlantic Ocean moved farther upstream. If this salt line had hit the water processing plants, Philadelphia would have been out of water. There was some anger at New York City, which took more and more water from the head waters of the Delaware River. Each day then, I would buy the newspaper for my Dad, and before giving it to him I would sneak a peek at the map of the salt line.  Today, get the paper and look to see how full the reservoirs are.

Most people and organizations in the world believe that water is a human right.  

Public water supply is almost the very definition of common good.

The chair of Nestle, Peter Brabeck-Letmathe, does not see water as a common good. He sees water as a commodity and a means to make a profit. He certainly puts a chill in my spine.

I suppose I should not be surprised. I have seen vendors sell water to very thirsty people on a hot day marching for justice for $4 a little bottle. I have seen municipalities prohibit the capture of rain water from a private house roof.

The City of Worcester encourages people to capture roof water and it provides, for a price, rain barrels. The rain barrels can be ordered through the City of Worcester website.

It is only rarely I drink bottled water, mostly when travelling. I think water in plastic bottles to be energy-inefficient and the plastic to be a hazard for some living things.

The City of Worcester monitors its water supply and lets us know of hazards. Unlike the City, water bottling companies take water from some unknown source and they never says much about the water quality.

My Worcester water bill came today.  I am always annoyed that it is so high. I suppose this is incentive to get that rain barrow and remodel with a more efficient water use device.

Every so often images of water shortages, Global Warming, water hoarding and wars for water give me pause. 

Protect Animals from Winter Weather!

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Lilac modeling the winter coat one of her aunties gave her for Christmas! photo:R.T

From PETA.ORG:

Although they are equipped with fur and feathers, dogs, cats, birds and other animals can still suffer from frostbite, exposure, and dehydration when water sources freeze. Cold temperatures mean extra hardship for “backyard” dogs, who often go without adequate food, water, shelter, or medical care.

When the temperatures nosedive and you start piling on the layers, it’s also important to remember your wild neighbors. Wild animals burn extra calories during the winter months to stay warm, and they may have a difficult time finding drinking water. Here’s a look at some of the things you can do this winter to help take care of all your furry friends!

Take animals inside. Puppies and kittens, elderly animals, small animals, and dogs with short hair, including pointers, beagles, pit bulls, Rottweilers, and Dobermans, are particularly susceptible to the elements. Short-haired animals will also benefit from warm sweaters or coats.

Don’t allow your cat or dog to roam freely outdoors. In cold weather, cats sometimes climb under the hoods of cars to be near warm engines and are badly injured or killed when the car is started. (To help prevent this, bang loudly on the hood of your car before starting the engine.) Animals can also become disoriented when there is snow or ice on the ground.

Increase animals’ food rations in cold weather. In cold weather, animals burn more calories to keep warm. Also, be sure that animals are free of internal parasites, which can rob them of vital nutrients.

Keep an eye out for strays. Take unidentified animals inside until you can find their guardians, or take them to an animal shelter. If strays are wild or unapproachable, provide food, water, and shelter (stray cats will appreciate a small doghouse filled with warm bedding), and call your local humane society for assistance in trapping them and getting them indoors.

Clean off your dogs’ or cats’ legs, feet, and stomachs after they come in from the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make animals sick if they are ingested while the animals are cleaning themselves.

When you see dogs left outdoors, provide them with proper shelter. Doghouses should be made of wood (metal is a poor insulator) and positioned in a sunny location during cold weather. Raise the house several inches off the ground, and put a flap over the door to keep out cold drafts. Use straw for bedding (rugs and blankets can get wet and freeze).

Buy nontoxic antifreeze made with propylene glycol instead of ethylene glycol, which can kill animals even in small doses. Safe brands include Sierra and Prestone Lowtox. Animals are attracted to antifreeze for its sweetness, so clean up spills quickly, and buy brands with the bittering agent denatonium benzoate.

Provide a source of water for wildlife, who may have a difficult time finding drinking water during winter months. Break the ice at least twice a day.

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Give wildlife a boost. While it’s best to provide natural sources of food and shelter for birds by planting flowers and trees that produce seeds and berries, birds may need an extra boost during the winter, when they are burning extra calories to keep warm. Use a blend of seeds that includes oiled sunflower seeds, which are high in calories. Remember to stop the feeding when the weather warms up.

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An artificial food source causes wild animals to congregate in unnaturally large numbers in areas where they may be welcomed by some, but not others, and it can also make them easy targets for predators. Eventually, they may lose their ability to forage for food on their own entirely.