Colorado rain-barrel bill passes House committee

rain barrel

For the second year in a row, a legislative storm is brewing in Colorado over who legally owns drops of rain.

A bill that would allow gardeners to store 110 gallons of runoff from their roof in up to two rain barrels passed on a 10-2 bipartisan vote in a House committee Monday. Republicans in the state Senate let a similar bill expire without a vote on the chamber floor at the end of last year’s session.

Opponents cited state water law that says rainfall must be allowed to move unabated back into the ecosystem to feed aquifers and reservoirs for those who hold expensive water rights.

In theory, proponents say, when the rainwater goes on gardens or lawns, it would then return to the larger environment. In the bargain, rain-barrel users would get a sense of how little it rains in Colorado and how much water they use on their property…

Colorado is the only state that bans rain barrels and is one of just four states that restrict so-called rainwater harvesting, joined by Arizona, Oklahoma and Utah, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Reagan Waskom, director of the Colorado Water Institute and chairman of the Colorado State University Water Center, said an experiment showed no detectable impact on downstream runoff. Nearly all of it is absorbed in the soil, just as it would if it was not captured.

CSU is neutral on the bill, he said.

Phew. The opposition to this bill really is dedicated to 17th Century politics as much as 19th Century ideology. Science has nothing to do with their opposition. It’s strictly ancient water rights law which often has nothing to do with reality.

Here in New Mexico we don’t specialize in being up-to-date about a whole bunch or science and law. But, even here we separate groundwater, surface water and rain water. The last-named being easiest to regulate. The state encourages using rain barrels to water your garden, etc..

We have four converted 220-litre food grade converted olive oil barrels. Filling and emptying is erratic and obviously dependent on simple factors like precipitation year-round. We get a fair amount of use for soaking tree dishes, etc., from snow melt, as well as watering the garden summertime.

France’s next miracle beauty cure – snail slime?

The French have long appreciated snails on a plate with butter and garlic. But one rural snail farmer believes the humble molluscs have more to offer alive than dead.

Louis-Marie Guedon says the mucus secreted by snails are full of collagen, glycolic acid, antibiotics and other compounds that regenerate skin cells and heal cuts.

Guedon, from Champagnolles in the west-central region of Charente-Maritime, believes it could presage a cosmetic revolution and has developed a secret technique to harvest the slime.

He is busy turning the innovation into France’s first industrial-scale snail mucus extraction operation with a target to harvest 15 tonnes of it next year…

He has secured three supply contracts with local cosmetics labs and a Paris company that mixes cosmetics for some of the biggest names in consumer beauty products.

“This client has already ordered three tons of slime,” Guedon said…

Snail mucus has already cropped up in beauty products sold in Asia and South America, but has yet to catch on in Europe. For the truly adventurous, a spa in Tokyo offers facials using real live snails.

Let me be clear on two sides of the questions raised here:

I have little confidence in the testing performed by cosmetics companies to validate their claims of endless beauty, eternal youth.

OTOH, I truly enjoy just about any kind of snail from the landlubbers mentioned in the first paragraph – with butter and garlic, perhaps an added touch of extra-virgin olive oil – to scungilli, sea snails in a traditional tomato sauce.

Israel admits to organ thefts


Israelis demonstrate at Swedish embassy after organ thefts revealed
Daylife/Getty Images used by permission

Israel has admitted that it harvested organs from the dead bodies of Palestinians and Israelis in the 1990s, without permission from their families.

The admission follows the release of an interview with Jehuda Hiss, the former head of Israel’s forensic institute, in which he said that workers at the institute had harvested skin, corneas, heart valves and bones from Israelis, Palestinians and foreign workers.

In the interview, which was conducted in 2000 when Hiss was head of Tel Aviv’s Abu Kabir forensic institute, he said: “We started to harvest corneas … Whatever was done was highly informal. No permission was asked from the family.”

Nancy Scheper-Hughes, who conducted the interview, told Al Jazeera on Monday that Hiss had said the “body parts were used by hospitals for transplant purposes – cornea transplants. They were sent to public hospitals [for use on citizens]. “And the skin went to a special skin bank, founded by the military, for their uses”, such as for burns victims.

The practice is said to have ended in 2000.

If you believe the Israeli government – which also says they haven’t nuclear weapons.

RTFA. This is the same government which will not allow an investigation into more recent charges of the same ghoulish practices commonly practiced upon Palestinians killed during Israeli raids.

British scientists developing harvesting robots

Researchers at the National Physical Laboratory (NPL) in Teddington have developed imaging technology to be used in an intelligent harvesting machine that could minimise wastage and solve an impending labour shortage for UK farmers.

Annual waste for certain crops can be up to 60% – which can mean up to ₤100,000 of lost revenue for an average farm every year, according to farmers who were consulted during research. Falling number of migrant labourers means that healthy crops cannot be gathered and so farms are losing crops due to harvesting at the wrong time.

NPL ‘s scientists are working with KMS projects and Vegetable Harvesting Systems (VHS) to turn the technology into an intelligent harvesting machine, which can look beneath the leafy layers of a crop, identify the differing materials, and enable precise size identification.

This can be used to develop a fully automated harvesting robot, which would be able to fill the gap left by the labour shortage.

The most appropriate technologies to use are radio frequencies, microwaves, terahertz and the far-infra red. These four parts of the electromagnetic spectrum all have potential to safely penetrate the crop layers and identify the size of the harvestable material for a relatively low cost…

A successful demonstration of the imaging technology was given recently at the Fanuc Robotics site in Coventry, showing its huge potential for the harvesting of cauliflowers, lettuces and other similar crops. This has attracted further commercial support from G’s, one of the largest lettuces grower in the UK, to take the project forward and develop the complete product, which could be available as early as next year.

Agribusiness in the United States has talked about this sort of achievement for decades. Every time someone took a couple of baby steps another wave of undocumentados rolled in from Mexico and made the question moot. As long as the cheapest labor on the continent was ready and available, why waste time and money on something like efficiency?

Apparently, a parallel situation in the UK is ending. No doubt our farm industry will soon be able to buy appropriate competitive harvesting machinery – from Great Britain.