Clean drinking water, like democracy, is one of those things you tend to take for granted until it runs out or becomes polluted. But just like democracy, securing it takes a lot of work and constant oversight.
In Poznań, a city in the western stretches of Poland, this work takes place in a round building with round windows in the middle of the Warta River. This building, the Dębiec Water Treatment Plant, harbors one of the most interesting and wacky takes on the issue of water quality management.
Here, artificial and biological monitoring systems ensure that the water pumped throughout the city's pipes is safe to drink. The artificial systems take precise measurements of chemical contamination in the water, which is definitely handy. However, as explains, it is the plant's biological systems (or 'bioindicators') that allow for a more reliable estimation of the water's overall toxicity, as they account for a broad range of factors "simultaneously".
These biological systems are comprised of eight mussels with sensors hot-glued to their shells. They work together with a network of computers and have been given control over the city's water supply. If the waters are clean, these mussels stay open and happy. But when water quality drops too low, they close off and shut the water supply of millions of people with them.
Enter the mussel
According to a presentation from AquaNES, a project of the European Union that aims to integrate nature-based elements into water management systems, Poznań's main source of water is the Warta River. The only issue here is that the Warta passes through some of the country's densest population centers, and some of its oldest industrial areas (where heavy industry has been present since the later parts of the 19th century). This creates an avenue through which pollution can wind up into the city's drinking water. One particular point of worry is heavy metals such as chromium seeping through the ground and into the river.
Which naturally raises a question -- how can Poznań ensure that the drinking water running through its pipes isn't dangerously contaminated?
"Using an organism as an indicator (bioindicator) cannot be accidental. It requires extensive field research that aims to accurately characterize natural occurrence conditions," writes Aquanet.
"The best indicator organisms are those that have specific life requirements, i.e. they have a narrow ecological (occurrence) scale. This means that a number of different factors will limit their vital functions or even eliminate them from the environment."
In essence, these "indicator organisms" allow engineers at the plant to know if the water is safe for human use or consumption, even if they don't produce hard data on its quality. Organisms such as mussels are good indicators of water quality because they have a low tolerance for pollutants, and they show an obvious response to improper water quality: they clamp shut.
Shellfish service
Mussels require clean, well-oxygenated water with low levels of physical or chemical impurities to thrive. They're less and less common in Polish lakes (and in virtually all coastal waters across the globe) because of pollution, which shows just how sensitive they are to changes in water quality. In Poland's case, a former communist country, most of the damage is caused by pollutants seeping up from contaminated aquifers (groundwater) into lakes or rivers.
This sensitivity to pollutants made them ideal for monitoring Poznań's water supply. When waters are nice and clean, mussels open up completely in order to feed -- which they do by filtering water and eating any organic matter they find. When water quality drops, they very quickly close their shells, inlet siphon (their 'mouth'), and slow down their metabolism.
The use of mussels as part of an automated water supply system was tested at the Department of Water Protection at the University of A. Mickiewicz in Poznań and found to be a very reliable indicator of water quality.
Whenever a mussel clamps down, it closes a circuit via a spring that was simply hot-glued to its shell, which alerts a computer that it may be time to turn off the water supply. The computer's job is to monitor parameters obtained through artificial sensors and produce an alarm if anything seems amiss. This step is meant to account for any possible change in the individual behavior or mussels, of which there are 8; one presumes they may sometimes grow tired and close off for a nap.
If four of the mussels close at the same time, however, the system shuts down automatically. It's engineering at its best.
Mussels are typically viewed as a nuisance that clogs and damages water supply systems. But the clam-powered system has been running at the Dębiec Water Treatment Plant since September 1994 and might change that view.
June 22 (UPI) -- A pair of Nova Scotia men unofficially broke a Guinness World Record by golfing more than 290 holes in 12 hours.
Cape Briton men Wes Stanford and Thomas Xidos attempted the world record Wednesday at The Lakes Golf Club & Resort to raise money for the Cape Breton Regional Hospital Foundation.
Standord and Xidos took aim at the Guinness World Record for most golf holes played by a pair using a cart in 12 hours, which was set at 290 holes by British duo Jay Kelly and George Boxall in 2016.
"The speed at which they are doing this -- they are not stopping for two seconds," April Powers, events manager at The Lakes, told CTV News during the attempt. "They've been at this since the crack of dawn, and they are not letting up at all. Their pace is amazing."
Stanford and Xidos surpassed their goal by completing 306 holes in the allotted time.
Evidence from the feat must still be reviewed by Guinness World Records before the record becomes official.
Wednesday was a disastrous day for severe weather in the central United States with a deadly twister in Matador, Texas, and a hectic hailstorm that injured concertgoers at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, an outdoor venue 12 miles southwest of Denver.
AccuWeather meteorologist and storm chaser Tony Laubach was in the right place at the right time to film the most eye-popping weather event of the day that unfolded south of Akron, Colo., about 100 miles east of Denver.
Twin tornadoes developed along a highway near Akron, swirling side by side in an open field. Initially, Laubach witnessed a single large cone tornado before the severe thunderstorm generated another smaller tornado. At one point, it appeared as though a third tornado was about to touch down before dissipating.
"(It was) one of the most incredible tornado sights I have witnessed, especially in the state of Colorado," Laubach said.
Fortunately, the tornadoes swirled over an open area of eastern Colorado and did not hit any structures, according to Laubach. However, he added that some power poles were blown onto a road and an RV was overturned by strong winds associated with the tornado-producing thunderstorm.
An unusual weather pattern set the stage for the severe thunderstorms that erupted on Wednesday from Texas to Wyoming.
"We do not see storms of that caliber in this state because we are typically a drier climate," Laubach explained.
Dew points were near record levels in eastern Colorado, a key ingredient for the severe weather outbreak. The dew point is a temperature scale that helps forecasters analyze how much moisture is in the atmosphere. Dew points on Wednesday afternoon were in the 60s, providing ample moisture for the storms to tap into.
"It has been one of the more active days in Colorado we have seen in recent years," Laubach said.
The thunderstorms across eastern Colorado and southeastern Wyoming were prolific hail producers with hailstones measuring as large as baseballs in some locations.
Large hail was responsible for shattering vehicle windows during the severe weather, including at Red Rocks Amphitheatre, where people scrambled for safety as a storm moved overhead on Wednesday evening.
Nearly 30,000 lightning strikes were also tallied over the region on Wednesday, according to AccuWeather's database.
Additional rounds of severe thunderstorms are in the forecast for Colorado, Wyoming, Texas, Kansas, Nebraska and South Dakota through the end of the week.
Indian police are investigating a suspected fraudster who spent nearly two years in a five-star hotel without paying, local media have said.
Ankush Dutta booked a room at Roseate House hotel in Delhi on 30 May 2019 and was supposed to check out the next day. But he extended his stay for 603 nights until 22 January 2021, leaving behind unpaid bills of $70,000 (£55,000).
"Accounts were falsified to conceal the actual outstanding dues," the police complaint read, quoted by the Indian Express newspaper.
Hotel managers also filed a police complaint against several employees for conspiracy, forgery and cheating, with officials saying they suspected staff members were bribed to manipulate in-house software systems.
Roseate House management could not immediately be reached for comment.
STUART, Iowa (KCCI) - People in the town of Stuart, Iowa are proud their town is growing, but not so proud of the town's new water tower.
City leaders say they're expecting nearly 150 new homes, so they need a bigger water supply.
However, people noticed a misspelling on one side. The letter U was left out, leaving the word "start" instead of Stuart.
"A lot of people saw it from the interstate and started to complain about it," Mayor Dick Cook said.
People in the town of Stuart, Iowa are proud their town is growing, but not so proud of the town's new water tower.
Other people seem to be taking the error in stride.
"It was hilarious. I mean, a lot of people were posting this, 'they don't know how to spell the town of Stuart.' That's fine," Cook said.
According to the contractor, the name was not centered on the tower and was being repainted, which is what led people to believe the word was misspelled.
The water tower is now fixed.
WASHINGTON (TND) — An asteroid roughly the size of the Titanic will pass by Earth this coming Saturday, according to NASA's asteroid tracker.
NASA says the asteroid, also known as 467336 (2002 LT 38), is around 840 feet long, or 269.5 meters, while the Titanic measured around 882 feet, or 268.8 meters long. To put it in other terms, the asteroid is about the size of a stadium.
467336 was discovered in June 2002 by scientists at the Lincoln Laboratory's Experimental Test Site in New Mexico.
Luckily, we don't have to worry about the asteroid getting too close to Earth–NASA says its approach will be around 4 million miles away.
What we know about the Titanic-bound submersible that's missing with 5 people onboard
Other asteroids that will be passing by in the coming days include (2008 LG2), the size of an airplane; (2023 MU), another airplane-sized object, and (2023 MQ), the size of a bus.