The Visual Water Dictionary: Bank Stability

Confused about wonky water terms? No prob! The Visual Water Dictionary attempts to cut confusion on ambiguous water terminology with easy visual references.

Today’s Term: Bank Stability

Bank Stability refers to the conditions and properties of a river or stream bank that either resist or counteract erosion,  such as water flow, type of soil, trees and vegetation cover.Some warning signs of poor bank stability include steep banks, exposed soil, soil that has fallen into the stream, leaning trees and exposed intrastructure.

Visible signs of poor bank stability (via trailvoice on flickr)

Often confused with…

No credit for you when when bank stability is eroding. (via sameold2008 on Flickr)

Bank Stability (in the financial sector) refers to the conditions and properties of a financial institution that either gain or erode capital (i.e., your money/life savings.) Some warning signs of poor bank stability in the financial sector include soiled pants,  steep losses, fallen investments, leaning politicians and exposed fraud and criminal mischief.

Bottled Water and Bacteria News: Consider the Source!

A big news flash today! Canadian researchers have discovered that many popular brands of bottled water contain “surprisingly high” levels of heterotrophic bacteria! The researchers presented their study results at the general meeting of the American Society of Microbiology in San Diego on May 26.

According to their research, more than 70 percent of the popular brands of bottled water tested failed to meet standards set forth by the United States Pharmacopeia, the non-governmental agency responsible for setting safety standards for medications and health care products. (Am I the only person wondering, “Who dat?“)

Bottled bacteria, that’s not funny! But this is! The source where I read about this shocking news was:

So all you bottled water drinkers, start documenting your crippling nausea and fatigue which has rendered you depressed, disabled and unable to work. You’re gonna be rich! Simply respond to the 800-number which will be appearing on late-night infomercials in short order.

Bust a Move At Your Next Science Fair

Electronic Music combined with a lecture on the electrolysis of water? There’s probably only a handful of people in the world who can appreciate this. I’m proud to say I’m one of them! This is science with a great beat you can dance to, so get up, get on the floor! (Before you go there… the geek truth patrol has already debated the finer points on the video’s YouTube page.)

Timesaving tip: the impatient are advised to skip ahead to the 2:00 mark where the pace picks up considerably.

Gayle Leonards wedding dress in basement storage

Eco-Absurdity: The Water-Soluble Wedding Dress

What a dilemma: say you’re a greenie bride, and you’re tortured because, after your big day, there’s no recycling outlet for your wedding dress. And it’s not compostable, either! Reuse is out, as no one you know can fit into the overly (large, small, tall, short) size.

This is a complex problem requiring collaboration between great fashion and engineering minds and YES, a solution has been devised! Read more

Big-Time Water Utility Advertising for a Tiny Audience

Looks like our local utility has placed an ad! A full page ad in the newspaper! On Sunday! Too bad almost no one under 50 reads the paper anymore in this town (oops, I’ve let a secret slip!)

So what does this big, costly full-page ad say?! Hmmmm. I’m not quite sure. I think it says that our tap water is good. Or maybe not good. I’m not a water engineer or scientist, so I’m clueless as to what this actually means. One thing is certain: I’m pretty sure they’re communicating that the water meets minimum standards and is not breaking any regulations or laws. My untrained eye does see that our water contains some cyanide and other icky stuff, but hey, guv’ment says it’s acceptable, so it must be so!

PLEASE what will it take to convince water utilities that engineers and technical people should STOP producing public communications that can’t be understood by most of the public? There’s a world of people out there who NEED, even WANT, to understand what’s going on with our water supply. And I’m talking about adults. We DO NOT need more coloring books or school posters or lawn-watering tips or festivals for the kiddies, even though all that’s feel-good and low risk.

Instead, this is the norm, a “best practice,” here in my town and countless others. What a shame, and what an opportunity lost.

TP! Please RT!

We’ve already noted the twittering water meter and the twittering toilet; naturally it was a matter of time before someone twittered from the toilet. Now if this doesn’t prove the awesome power of social networking, I don’t know what will. From via The Presurfer (and already re-tweeted with the ferocity of the stomach flu),

naika_tei is a Twitter user and anime song DJ in Tokyo. Last week, he found himself stranded in the third floor toilet of an electronics store in Akihabara with a soiled ass and no toilet paper. So he sent out this tweet: “[Urgently needed] toilet paper in the 3rd floor toilet of Akiba Yodobashi.” Five minutes later, he sent another desperate tweet.

18 minutes later, he sends another tweet saying: “The toilet paper arrived safely! Thank you very much!” Hooray for helpful Twitter followers.

Laying limestone slates for Bermuda rain catching rooftop

Bermuda Rooftops: Pretty, and Pretty Effective

Let’s hop off the innovation train for a moment, people! It’s so easy to get carried away with the “gee whiz” of new technology and approaches we often fail to look behind us to see the elegant and ingenious solutions already in place, right under our noses.

Andrew Leidner sent along this marvelous link to that depicts Bermuda’s four-century old solution for collecting fresh water while withstanding hurricane conditions. Read more

Northbrook Illinois water tower painted with Save Ferris

Save Ferris, But Trash the Tower

Yes, it is time to mourn yet another iconic Eighties reference point. The Northbrook, Illinois water tower made famous in the movie Ferris Bueller’s Day Off is under threat of replacement . As reported in,

Bids being accepted to replace ‘Ferris Bueller’ water tower
Hoping to solve longstanding water pressure issues, Northbrook is seeking bids to build a new 1 million-gallon spheroid-shaped tower — doubling the village’s water supply — even though it might spell the end of the tower made famous in a 1986 movie…[snip]…Hovering overhead for six decades, the blue golf-ball-shaped tank even had a supporting role in the 1986 John Hughes film “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off,” when the words “Save Ferris” were emblazoned on it for several months during shooting.
Flash flood warning sign Witten, Germany

Stick Figures in Agony on Water Warning Signs

The use of pictures and visual international symbols on signage–such as cartoons, stick figures and the ubiquitous red circle-slash–have eased some of the challenges of communicating across language barriers. Even on signage, though, our peppy, positive-reinforcement culture frowns on warning sign fear-mongering. Too bad, because terror is still a powerful motivator for deterring dangerous and stupid behavior! These scary signs and global stick figures in water jeopardy are trying to get the (mixed!) messages out! Read more

The Next Big Thing: Toilet Tank Billboards

You see just a plain toilet. A visionary entrepreneur, though, sees a new space available to make money with ads. The 15,000+ attendees at the PPAI* Expo in Las Vegas must have had their heads spinning with thoughts of a royal flush of untapped opportunity for these imprintable toilet tank covers…although it seems there’s something not quite right with the design concept, at least for women…hmmmm. Read more