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Monday, March 21, 2016

SCIENCE: Tardigrade takeover? How the indestructible water bear parallels "The Walking Dead"

For all you The Walking Dead fans out there, you may be surprised to see a similarity between this AMC franchise and the science of water quality.

We introduce you to the Are-you-kidding-me?-Is-that-thing-still-alive?!? water bear, also known as the tardigrade.

These microscopic buggers are known for their ability to endure the most extreme of conditions—from heat, to cold, to radiation, to the very vacuum of space. These guys know how to survive for the long haul, and those who study them have referred to water bears as "indestructible."

Now water bears aren't out to takeover the world, and we find them to be friends in our water-analysis efforts. But if a sci-fi style "tardigrade apocalypse" was imminent, how might we defend ourselves?

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

HEALTH: How can drinking cause dehydration?

Why drinking responsibly means hydrating responsibly

Whether celebrating a holiday or the end of a work week, many people kick back a glass of their favorite beverage to toast the occasion. If that beverage is alcohol, we hope you drink responsibly, but with that comes responsible hydration.

Did you know alcohol dehydrates you? drinkaware UK explained that alcohol acts as a diuretic, acting on your kidneys to make you expel more liquid than you are consuming.

That's what increases your number of trips to the bathroom when consuming alcohol: Once you head to the bathroom to pass the liquid you just drank, you'll feel the urge to go again soon after because of the diuretic effect drawing additional liquid from your body. That can lead to dehydration and increase the likelihood of a rough day-after.

We're in the wastewater-treatment business, so we're prepared to handle as many trips to the bathroom as you need. But we do encourage keeping water in your drinking routine. It can reduce the impacts of alcohol on your system, and it's a healthier option overall. We'll even give you a fancy drink name to go along with that glass of tap if that helps.

Hydrate responsibly, celebrate responsibly, and flush responsibly.

Image credit Flickr Maya83 Creative Commons

Thursday, March 10, 2016

WATCH: Flush o' the Irish? Kelsey shows us green dye is for more than St. Patrick's Day.

Chicago can have its green river. Water Quality and Industrial Surveillance Investigator Kelsey Amidon shows us how we go green (green dye, actually) to protect water quality.

Fluorescent dye helps our investigators trace the source and destination of flows in our streams and sewers, and the glowing-green dye is even eco-friendly.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

PROJECTS: 7 things to know about green infrastructure projects in East Cleveland

Sewer projects often are much more than sewers. And solutions can be found beyond the construction sites many are used to.

One of our current projects scheduled for this year is happening in part in East Cleveland, a combination of sewer and green-infrastructure construction that will reduce pollution to local waterways.

The project name is a mouthful: The East 140th Street Consolidation and Relief Sewers project, or E140CRS.

Media and residents have asked questions about the project plans, so we wanted to offer seven important points about the project's origin, benefits, and approach to clear any confusion.

1. Cleveland is built on old (but maintained) sewer network known as combined sewers. 

We start at the beginning, a long time ago. Combined sewers carry stormwater and sewage in the same pipe, a design that dates back to the early 1900s; it was effective for moving and collecting wastewater back in the day.

Combined sewer overflows result because the sewer system in East Cleveland—and other older, urban communities—is not equipped to handle the mixture of stormwater and sanitary sewage that results from significant rain events. When the sewers reach capacity, they overflow to the environment at relief points called combined sewer overflows. Overflows affect the environment, water quality, and public health.