Friday, August 06, 2010

6 AUG 10: Tank You Twice

If you're like me, you shudder to think about how big this month's electric bill will be. But after all the days of 100-degree heat this summer, I suppose one more triple-digit reading from Georgia Power is inevitable....

But have you thought about how big your August water bill might be? It's not merely a matter of sprinkling your lawn and garden. I keep several bottles of water in my refrigerator, especially during summer - plastic bottles which I refill with tap water over and over. Two of them say Callaway Blue, but I think my recycling is "green" even in the wallet.

Columbus Water Works apparently still has plenty of water, so I can keep cool. In fact, it dedicated two giant new water tanks Thursday at its north facility along River Road. The ceremony would have been a little different at the south treatment facility -- as extra tanks would have been brought from Fort Benning.

The two new tanks replace the one which ruptured on a Saturday morning last year, sending millions of gallons of water into a surrounding neighborhood [26 Apr 09]. Yet did you notice there were no threats of big lawsuits -- especially compared with the flooding in the Teak Drive watershed? It's as if all the residents had industrial-strength shop vacuums waiting on their porches.

Columbus Water Works President Bob Tant explained by replacing one steel tank with two concrete tanks, crews will have more flexibility when it comes to things such as cleaning. Pour in enough chemical dispersant, and local workers might be able to clean every oil-covered bird in Panama City Beach.

Columbus Water Works winds up with two million gallons in extra capacity. And WTVM noted an insurance settlement reduced the cost of the new tanks by more than two-thirds, to $1.3 million. Isn't that a little strange? The water works tried to spend as little in "liquid assets" as possible.

Did you see how Columbus Water Works dedicated its two new tanks? WRBL showed Mayor Wetherington pressing a giant button attached to a metal sign. Hopefully that sign will be taken down today - before the Northside High School marksmanship team decides to use it for practice, risking big trouble from a misfire.

There's one other concern involving those two giant new water tanks. The heat index in Columbus has topped 100 degrees F. during the afternoon. City-run swimming pools are closed. The thought of dozens of sweaty nine-year-olds storming the gates today is scary to comprehend....

That was the other big water-related news from city officials Thursday. WTVM announced Columbus city pools will reopen on weekends through the end of September. Uh-oh - please don't tell me the 95-degree heat is going to last that long.

The extended weekend hours could allow swimmers to use the pool at Double Churches Park this year. Construction there has been awfully slow - almost as if the crew is waiting for someone to file a lawsuit, demanding that site become the spot for a natatorium.

BLOG UPDATE: We're not sure if Thursday's look at police priorities inspired it, but a reader called asking for our help with some crime-related research. No, we do NOT plan any shoplifting experiments on our next grocery trip....

The caller wants to know if someone has broken into your home while you've been on vacation - especially if your vacation involved air travel. I can't really say more than that right now. But if it's happened to you, please write the blog. Then get to know your neighbors - so they can pick up your newspapers next time.

Now that we've checked water and air, let's stay well grounded as we check other Thursday news:

+ A parent complained to WRBL Talbot County is so short on school bus drivers that children have to ride four-to-a-seat. School district officials admit they need two drivers to return to full strength. This is a teachable moment -- at least because it sounds like a mathematics story problem.

+ The Alabama Farmers Federation began a conference for commodity producers at the Columbus Trade Center. Yes, farmers from across Alabama are holding a convention in Georgia. It's hard to believe all the Baptist churches in Phenix City are still holding vacation Bible school, and can't open their sanctuaries for meetings.

(A news release on the conference promises a "surprise guest entertainer" will appear at Saturday night's closing banquet. I hate to break secrets here - but the Drifters and Tams are performing at the Phenix City Amphitheater that night, and it's not that long a walk.)

+ The Phenix City Association of Realtors hosted an event called "Wine, Women, Chocolates and Shoes." I can understand why the shoes were listed last -- because spills from the first three could stain them.

+ Atlanta Motor Speedway announced it will have only one NASCAR racing weekend next year. The Labor Day race will remain, but the spring race is being eliminated after 50 years. Maybe now Carl Edwards will have time to drive that Aflac car around East Alabama Motor Speedway.

+ Instant Message to the man who sat next to me at Thursday night's poker tournament: Thanks for the extra cup of sweet tea you gave me - but didn't you forget something? I mean, you didn't share the 1,000-chip bonus from the bar for buying a beverage.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author -- not necessarily those of anyone else in Columbus living or dead, and perhaps not even you.

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