August 19, 2014 |
"Days since last rainfall?" "Well, yesterday we got a little bit. " "Water clarity?" "Looks pretty clear to me. " "All righty. Stream bed color?" "Brown," Doug McClure pauses, staring at the mud, "with green highlights. " "Odor?" Wendy McClure doesn't wait for her husband's answer. She spreads her arms wide and raises her nose to the sky: "Doesn't smell like much of anything. Just a creek. " The North Wales couple were on their first official field survey Wednesday as "Creek Watchers" - a group of 60 amateur scientists collecting water-quality data for the Wissahickon Valley Watershed Association.
August 16, 2014 |
When you hear the phrase drought gardening - or waterwise, low-water or xeriscape gardening - what comes to mind? Cacti and rocks, probably, which is great for the Mojave Desert look. But how about these beauties to do the job: The fragrant and feathery agastache, beloved by bees and butterflies, in colors that channel a Santa Fe sunset. Or wild quinine, whose ultracool flowers - tiny, dense, cauliflowerlike - bloom their heads off from June to October. Or the lovable Mediterranean "moon carrot," with its fernlike silvery-blue foliage and splayed clusters of white, buttony blossoms.
August 14, 2014 |
You couldn't drink it. You couldn't bathe in it. You couldn't wash dishes in it. A bloom of toxin-producing, blue-green algae in Lake Erie had rendered the water unsafe and forced Toledo, Ohio, to shut down its system for several days. Could it happen here? Exceedingly unlikely, Philadelphia-area water officials say. They do see the same algae in local waters, but the difference is, it doesn't grow out of control here or, for reasons unknown, produce the same toxins. But officials here have plenty of other types of algae to contend with, albeit mostly ones that affect taste and odor and clog filters, rather than harm people.
July 27, 2014 |
After the unexpected death of a close family member, an uncomplicated, therapeutic vacation was in order. Knowing my husband was a fan of hot springs for their healing qualities, I proposed several locations: California, Colorado, Arkansas, North Carolina, and Berkeley Springs, W.Va. The last was selected because of its easy three-hour drive west down the Pennsylvania Turnpike and I-81. Our must-haves included: natural beauty, the waters, and a significant divergence from our daily lifestyle.
July 22, 2014 |
The white, office-style water dispenser in the corner of the kitchen says quite a bit about the unwanted lifestyle changes underway in the Minix household in West Deptford. Jeannie Minix, 55 and a vegetarian, will not be eating the tomatoes, eggplant, and other organic produce she nurtures in her backyard garden. Her daughters Chelsea, 24, and Haley, 21, keep reminding themselves not to use ice cubes from the freezer or to run their toothbrushes under the faucet. Otherwise unthinking actions are now tainted by fear of an emerging, unregulated contaminant found in the family's water this month.
July 14, 2014 |
Comcast Corp. announced its $45.2 billion deal to acquire the nation's No. 2 cable operator, Time Warner Cable Inc., in mid-February. The apparent loser was midtier cablecaster Charter Communications Inc., which had been making hostile overtures for Time Warner Cable. Now fast-forward five months. Today, shareholders in Comcast and Charter could have different thoughts about winner or loser in the takeover, at least to this point. The stock in Charter has gained 18 percent as Wall Street seemed relieved that the debt-heavy company wouldn't have to borrow additional billions of dollars to acquire Time Warner Cable.
July 10, 2014
MY HEART overflowed with grief last week when I heard of the accidental drowning death of 14-year-old Corinthian "Corey" Hammond. Not that I didn't care before about child safety, but now, being a mother has worked its way into every facet of my life, including this column. Being the mother of a young child made Corey's death strike closer to home than ever, and my heart goes out to his mother and the unimaginable grief I know she must be feeling. That's why this column is not only dedicated to Corey's memory, but also to the importance of swimming and water safety.
July 5, 2014 |
John M. Gibbons Sr., 84, of Roxborough, a Philadelphia Water Department inspector for 33 years, died Friday, June 27, of complications from chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at St. Mary Manor, Lansdale. Known as Jack, Mr. Martin was raised during the Great Depression in the predominantly ethnic Irish neighborhood of Swampoodle in North Philadelphia. He graduated from Roman Catholic High School in 1948 and served in the Korean War as a corporal in the Eighth Army's Second Engineer Unit - 341st Engineer Panel Bridge Company.
July 3, 2014 |
Everyone thought the question had been answered 42 years ago, with passage of the Clean Water Act: What, exactly, are the waters of the United States - waters that warrant government protection to ensure they are drinkable, fishable, and swimmable? Rivers such as the Delaware, regularly plied by cargo ships? Absolutely. The Schuylkill and major tributaries? No debate. But smaller streams? For federal officials, those are muddy waters. Two U.S. Supreme Court decisions, in 2001 and 2006, showed that the regulations were not as clear as the regulators had thought.