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Elliot: Coals to the Res

BY BEAU ELLIOT | JULY 08, 2014 5:00 AM

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So the city of Iowa City kindly, yet continually, (they’re not quite the same thing) sends me packets of emails about this and that. I’m not complaining; I like to know what’s going on in my fair city.

Though, apparently, the whole fairness thing still needs some work. Rust-Oleum or something. (Has anyone thought of trying basic human fairness? Just wondering.)

Anyway, the city of Iowa City sent me an email at 10:21 a.m. July 5 telling me: “Coralville Reservoir continues to fall, but there is a potential for more rain in this week’s forecast.”

Great news, yes? What a wonderful headline. Well, except for the more-rain bit. If we’re going to send more rain to the Iowa River basin, could we send some coal to Newcastle while we’re at it?

(Yes, yes, I know: The production of coal in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England, has drastically declined. However, Newcastle, Australia, is now the biggest exporter of coal in the world, according to the Australian Minister For Ports And Waterways, Minister For Regulatory Reform, Minister For Small Business Aug. 6, 2008.)

Meanwhile, back in Iowa City, where we don’t worry much about coal even though we have a coal-fired power plant in the middle of town, we do keep track of what’s happening with the Coralville Dam and the Reservoir.

So the city’s headline “Coralville Reservoir continues to fall” is wonderful news.

Well, wonderful, except that it wasn’t true. (How many times does good news turn out not to be true? That’s OK; I’ll wait while you keep counting.)

As the city’s email pointed out, the inflow into the Reservoir has dropped to 25,000 cubic feet per second, but the outflow had remained steady at 18,000 cubic feet per second. Most of us who do not work for the city can figure out that the water level in the Reservoir was still rising, by something on the order of 7,000 cubic feet per second, give or take a cubic.

And yes, the Army Corps of Engineers, which runs the Coralville Dam, as of 5 a.m. Sunday noted that the Reservoir had risen 1.17 feet in the previous 24 hours, leaving it at slightly less than 5 feet from going over the spillway. (The latest data, as of 9 p.m. Monday, from the Corps of Engineers show the Reservoir is slightly more than 4 feet from going over the spillway, and the Iowa River in Iowa City is slightly more than 2.5 feet above flood stage.)

So, city of Iowa City, the Reservoir is still rising (on the order of 0.4 feet in the 24 hours prior to 9 p.m. Monday). Please don’t tell us that the water level in the Reservoir is falling when it’s doing the opposite.

I mean, we have lots of other things to worry about. Five old white guys on the Supreme Court believe that the religious sensibilities of a corporation trump the rights of women’s choice of contraception. (OK, one of the five old white guys is actually African American. He votes like an old white guy. Case closed.)

Or we could worry about House Speaker John Boehner, who believes President Obama is the most un-American president because of the latter’s use of executive orders.

Well, let’s crunch the numbers, as they say in the corporations-with-religious sensibilities biz. GOP President George W. Bush, 291 executive orders; Obama, 182.

I don’t recall Boehner railing about executive orders during Bush’s presidency. But then, I don’t recall when the phrase coals to Newscastle first occurred, either.

(1538, if you’re keeping score at home.)


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