Purified water is wasted in toilet bowls, but flushing is the single largest source of water consumption in the U.S.
Some researchers at Drexel University have a better idea, one that would work particularly well in Philadelphia: use rainwater instead.
Franco Montalto and other Drexel researchers took a look at rainfall levels in big U.S. cities, and found that Philly is one of just four cities nationwide that gets enough rain to eliminate the need for tap water in the toilet. How? By using large storage bins to collect rainfall from rooftops then diverting that water to the bathroom whenever the need arises. Read more »
Anyway, some residents said that yet another upside of the weekend was that the air felt a little fresher. But was it actually cleaner? The papal visit certainly presented a unique opportunity to conduct an experiment to see how quickly — and to what extent — the air quality changes when you take cars off the streets. For the mega-event, officials closed down several major roads and highways in Philadelphia, and barred incoming traffic from parts of Center City.
The city’s Department of Public Health regularly measures the amount of pollutants in the air at various sites in Philadelphia. Compared to similar weekends, the health department’s Alison Riley told us that there were indeed lower levels of some pollutants during the pope’s visit, particularly on that Saturday. Read more »
A recent story in the Washington Post headlined “American Recycling Is Stalling” sent a shockwave through environmentalist circles. America’s recycling business, once lucrative for both cities and private employers, is now devolving into a “money-sucking enterprise,” the story concluded. And that’s despite years of growth in curbside recycling. One of the big culprits? Ironically, it’s blue bin recycling, according to the Post:
Trying to encourage conservation, progressive lawmakers and environmentalists have made matters worse. By pushing to increase recycling rates with bigger and bigger bins — while demanding almost no sorting by consumers — the recycling stream has become increasingly polluted and less valuable, imperiling the economics of the whole system.
Before we go further, what exactly are the “economics of the whole system”? As ubiquitous as recycling has become, the business model is rather opaque. How does the city make money from empty soda cans on the curb? Read more »
Editor’s Note: Citified has retracted this story, which was based on a flawed assumption about water management infrastructure. Thanks to commenters William H Ross III and tsarstruck for pointing out the error.
It’s like something out of a movie: twice in the past five days, swarms of mayflies have shut down the Veterans Memorial Bridge over the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County. On Saturday night, the bridge closure came after the low visibility from thousands and thousands of flies caused three motorcycle accidents (the injuries were reportedly minor).
Ryan Robinson of Lancaster Online reports today of “a surreal scene” that sounds like an entomological version of the frog scene from Magnolia. Fire Chief Chad Livelsberger told Robinson, “It was like a blizzard in June, but instead of snow, it was mayflies.” There was an inch-think slick of dead flies on the bridge, making cars skid and wheels spin as though the roadway were covered with ice. But the flies weren’t all dead, apparently, since they swarmed again on Sunday night, prompting a second shutdown of the same bridge.
Smallmouth bass with confirmed malignant tumor. Caught by angler in Susquehanna River near Duncannon, Dauphin County, on Nov. 3, 2014. Photo credit: John Arway.
The grotesque image seen here is not a movie still from some awful Sharknado spinoff. It is a photograph of a smallmouth bass caught by a fisherman in the Susquehanna River, and the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) has confirmed that the growth on the fish is a cancerous tumor. It’s the first time a smallmouth bass has been documented with a cancerous tumor in the state. It’s also the first documented instance of fish cancer among all species in the Susquehanna River. Read more »
New Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf is continuing to undo moves former Gov. Tom Corbett made during his last year in office.
Wolf appeared at Benjamin Rush State Park in Far Northeast Philadelphia today to sign an order banning fracking in state parkland, reversing a move Corbett made last May. In his first week in office, Wolf voided two dozen “pending executive nominations” Corbett made late in his term. Today’s moratorium, effective immediately, forbids fracking leases on parks and forests owned or managed by the state’s Department of Conservation and Natural Resources.