By Jason DeRusha

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — We’ve talked a lot about the drought and the need to conserve water. It had Mitchell in Minneapolis wondering who uses more water: Individuals or companies?

In Minnesota, domestic use accounted for about 9 percent of total estimated use (128 billion gallons of 1,476 billion gallons) in 2005.

That’s it. Nine percent.

More water is used by the mining industry. They use 11 percent of our water, 156 billion gallons.

Irrigation is a big category, too. It uses 6 percent, much of which is used in farming.

But the biggest category of use is thermoelectric — water used by power plants to make electricity. It’s huge, about 61 percent (894.8 billion gallons) of Minnesota’s total 2005 water use. Most of the water comes from nearby rivers. Only about 2 percent is a burden on the system.

Bottom line: Regular people use a small percentage of the overall water. But we have the ability to use less and make a difference. Power plants don’t have that choice.

Mark Humke from Rosemount wondered: Do politicians pay any tax on all the commercials they produce and air, or are they exempt?

In Minnesota, TV ads are tax-exempt, political or otherwise. So when you call up WCCO-TV and buy a 30 second ad, as of July 1, 1999, you don’t have to pay sales tax on that purchase. The same exemption is true for radio and print ads. It’s considered a nontaxable service.

Marie from Prior Lake asked: Why do cats purr? What makes that sound?

Cat purring is fascinating, because they purr when they’re happy, but they also purr when they’re freaking out.

Scientists know cats produce the purr through intermittent signaling of the muscles of the voice box and diaphragm. It occurs during inhaling and exhaling, and the frequency of the tone is interesting. A number of researchers have sound frequencies in the range of the purr can improve bone density and promote healing.

We know that cats are lazy, and it’s possible the purr is a means cats have evolved to heal their bones.


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