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Environment

‘Pure’ Drinking Water

August 15, 2011 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 89, ISSUE 33

Thanks to Rudy Baum for another interesting commentary on the “universal solvent” (C&EN, July 4, page 3). I was amazed that Portland, Ore., discarded 8 million gal of drinking water owing to the addition of perhaps 300 mL of urine. Recall that beer becomes urine after consumption (I conduct this experiment daily) and both are 95% water. And how about birds and animals who enjoy the reservoir? Certainly “pure” drinking water is like the ideal gas, a figment of our imagination!

By Al Denio
Newark, Del

With reference to Baum’s editorial regarding global water scarcity, I know of a place worse than Toowoomba, Australia. The island of Bermuda also has no freshwater, lakes or rivers. All usable water comes from rain. By law, all buildings are constructed with serrated roofs that collect the runoff and channel it to underground water tanks. Again by law, all houses must have appropriate-sized underground tanks below the houses. The roofs are coated with limestone, part of which washes out and goes to the tank. This kills algae or bacteria that may grow in the dark tanks.

There is no water company like we are used to in the U.S. Imagine what the price of water would be in a country where gasoline sells for $10 per gal. A case of Poland Spring-brand water was on sale in the grocery store for $32!

Surrounded by the North Atlantic on every side, but not a drop to drink.

By Kishore Nadkarni
East Brunswick, NJ

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