Tag Archive for water

Photo Friday: The Flood

The heavy rains and storms caused a huge flood in our town. Several people had to be evacuated on the south side of town, some of them by boat, and it sounds like we’re going to lose a few buildings and homes.

Mill Street

Mill Street is still totally submerged. The American Legion Post on the right recorded 56″ of water inside. That wall, built after the last flood, is 42″ high.

I don’t think of flooding when I picture our town. Our elevation is right around 750′, and as you drive west toward Peoria, it drops significantly to a little over 300′ at the Illinois River. However, that water has to start somewhere, and it came rushing out of the fields and quickly drowned out the creeks that keep the town dry during an average rainfall. 5″ of water in one night doesn’t sound like much when you’re talking about a placid pool, but all that water is going to flow—and accumulate—somewhere.

I’m fortunate my house is on the north side of town, which is the higher side of town. We had some water come in through our back door, and at one point the drain quit for a short period of time when the surge overwhelmed the city sewer system. For us it was more mess than damage, though. Downstream, drains and sewer lines backed up into some homes.

We canceled school Thursday due to some flooding at our junior high. My office (and all of our servers) are below ground level, so I stopped in and checked them out, then took a quick ride around town. Several streets were still blocked. The water had receded, but not much.

Mine Carts

Debris shows how the water rose over these mine carts overnight.

There’s more rain coming next week. It’s not supposed to be near as bad, but we’re hopeful most of this will be drained away by then.

Meanwhile, my old stomping grounds in the Chicago suburbs saw some flooding, too. Portions of I-55 (the Stevenson to Chicagoans) were closed, and I saw some photos of neighborhoods I recognized sitting underwater. When storms stretch from Oklahoma almost to Canada and the clouds reach 45,000 feet elevation, nowhere is safe.

Locally and nationally, it’s been a crazy week. It will be nice if things calm down a bit this weekend.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Plumbing 2.0

Yes, plumbing. Bear with me.

Our local utility sends out a pamphlet with every bill, and this month the pamphlet included an advisory to turn water heaters down to 120 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent scalds and save energy. Most water heaters, apparently, are dialed up to 140F by consumers.

Someone already resolved the energy issue by inventing on-demand water heaters, aka tankless water heaters. Rather than having a big tank of water that is constantly re-heating the water, a tankless heater runs only as hot water is used. You turn on the hot water faucet, the tankless water heater fires up as the water flows through.

However, I think the same scalding problem exists: you set the dial and the tankless heater does its thing. If you want warm water, you still have to mix hot with cold to find the middle ground. Not to mention it still seems counterproductive to heat up the water, only to cool it back down so you don’t burn your hands.

That said, why not take all this fancy technology of ours — Bluetooth, X10, 802.11 wireless, and so on — and gin up a way for the consumer to tell the heater how hot to make the water?

For example, you want to take a shower. You dial in the temperature and boom, that’s how hot the water comes out. Even better, you let parents and caregivers put a safety on the equipment, so kids and/or grandma don’t accidentally melt their faces off. At the same time, the heater is using less energy because it knows it only has to get the water to, say, 90F, rather than cranking all the way up to 120F or so. Less gas or electricity required, and possibly less water wasted until the right temperature comes through.

Why is this not already an option? If they can make fridges that can order frickin’ milk before I run out, I would think this would be a piece of cake.

In fact, it might even make the home more flexible. Maybe you only need to run a single pipe through the house instead of both hot and cold. Now you could get hot water from your garden hose. You pay a little more for the smart heater and faucets, but you save on labor installing two sets of pipes, and in the long run maybe you save more on your water bills because you’re not running both sides.

“But Mike, what if I want to take a shower while the wife is washing dishes?” No sweat: you have two circuits of water. Two tanks run by one controller/server. I get a nice, warm shower, while she has hotter water for the dishes. Only want one heater? Fine, coolest demand wins for safety. My shower’s warm and she can gripe at me for having not-quite-hot-enough water for the dishes.

More questions? Let the experts figure it out. I’m not a plumber, just a geek.

Someone make this happen.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.