Australian invader threatens West Coast

It may be small, but like other insect insurgents the light brown apple moth poses a huge threat.

In January, acting U.S. Agriculture Secretary Chuck Conner announced a second infusion of emergency funding—$75 million—for California to stop the spread of the winged invader. The department had provided $15 million in August. The moth was first confirmed in Alameda County last March and subsequently found in 11 neighboring counties.

Native to Australia, the light brown apple moth has been spread through imported nursery plants. The creature is especially fond of cypress, redwoods, and other trees prized in California and other Western states. For a complete list of “host” plants and other information, visit

Public works leader dies in shooting

When a disgruntled citizen opened fire at a Kirkwood, Mo., city council meeting last month, he terminated the life and career of a dedicated public works leader.

Director of Public Works Kenneth Yost and four other city officials were fatally wounded when Charles Lee “Cookie” Thornton burst into the Feb. 7 meeting shortly after the pledge of allegiance. According to a friend of Thornton, the shooter owned a demolition and asphalt business, and its vehicles had received as many as 150 tickets for parking violations. Thornton had been arrested for disrupting city council meetings.

Kirkwood is a suburb 10 miles west-southwest of St. Louis, with a population of 27,000.

Tainted tunnel threatens town

More than 1 billion gallons of contaminated water is threatening a Colorado town.

Contaminated by heavy metals, the water is trapped in a mountain tunnel in a long-defunct mine. State and federal officials have determined there's no immediate danger to the ironically named Leadville, since a treatment plant at the foot of the tunnel removes toxins and heavy metals before discharging into an Arkansas river. But city officials are concerned that when this year's above-average snowfall melts, the water backed up in the 2.1-mile, partially collapsed drainage tunnel could wreak havoc.

In anticipation of a flood, officials installed a speaker system to broadcast evacuation notices to a 300-resident mobile home park near the end of the tunnel.

Drinking water chart available

An Omaha-Neb.-based firm is offering a wall chart designed to cut sometimes confusing drinking water regulations down to size.

Architectural, engineering, and consulting firm HDR Inc. is offering the 12th edition of its Safe Drinking Water Act wall chart for download at no cost on its Web site ( The resource provides at-a-glance references to all drinking-water regulations, including a detailed listing of contaminants, maximum contaminant levels, health effects, and monitoring requirements.

New to this year's chart: updated information on the new Ground Water Rule, and revisions to the Lead and Copper Rule. In addition, the chart now includes National Secondary Drinking Water Standard. While not federally enforceable, the standards are often referred to when agencies are addressing aesthetic factors such as taste, appearance, and staining.