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Self-Watering Miracle Tree
image Lucille Pope's oak tree has sprung a leak. Water is pouring out of it at the rate of a tenth of a gallon every minute, and no one knows where the water is coming from.

It all started back in April when a little sap started oozing out of the tree. The sap progressed to a dark stain, that eventually turned into a steady trickle of water. Lucille Pope thinks it's some kind of miracle tree, and that the water has special healing properties. However, her son Lloyd says "I ain't with that superstitious stuff ... There's no crying Mary here." (Good for him.) However, the specialists from the local water board are baffled. It doesn't seem to be a leaking pipe since Mrs. Pope's water bill isn't going up. Hydrologist George Rice said:
"I've never seen anything like this before. If you wanted to dream something up I'd say that somehow water pressure underneath is forced through some kind of channel in the tree. But that's still very unlikely."
I can't imagine how this phenomenon could easily be faked, so I doubt it's a hoax. I'm going with the underground spring that somehow forced its way up through the tree theory.
Places
Posted by The Curator on Fri Aug 11, 2006
That is weird, I would be interested to see the water test results.
Posted by N E O  in  Everywhere and nowhere  on  Fri Aug 11, 2006  at  06:15 PM
It could easily be a nieghbor's leak, or more likely, a water main that runs under her yard. Tree roots have been known to break in to water mains before. A small leak in the main would be difficult to detect by the water company. Fortunately, it won't remain small for all that long.
Posted by Terry Austin  in  Surf City USA  on  Fri Aug 11, 2006  at  06:31 PM
Very peculiar to be sure. I suspect the healing properties are proabably psychosomatic/placebo effect. What if the water pipe is leaking before the meter?
Posted by Grain  in  Bay Area, CA  on  Fri Aug 11, 2006  at  06:43 PM
I'm just fascinated by the brain process that jumps from water leaking from a tree to the notion that it must be "healing water."
Posted by Cranky Media Guy  on  Fri Aug 11, 2006  at  08:35 PM
I think it'd be kind of annoying if the tree leaked that much every day. I mean, her backyard is probably all soggy.
Posted by Razela  in  Chicago, IL  on  Fri Aug 11, 2006  at  08:40 PM
I'd like to drown people in their own miracle water just to show them...SeE!!! It's JUST WATER!
Posted by Maegan  in  Tampa, FL - USA  on  Fri Aug 11, 2006  at  11:24 PM
Some useful links:
Wikipedia on transpirational pull (the process that gets water from the roots to the leaves)
Wikipedia on xylem (the tissue/vessels that get the water up there)
A quick google search says a large oak tree transpires about 100 gallons a day (on average), and about 40-60 a day for medium-sized oaks. Obivously that would depend on their access to water. But this is just a little leak. Probably just a few vessels near the outside ruptured or something - most xylem is effectively dead wood. I doubt it has much ability to heal/seal itself.
Posted by Mentle  in  Canada  on  Fri Aug 11, 2006  at  11:29 PM
I just did some math in my head. They estimate at 1/10 gallon per minute. That's 6 per hour, 72 if it had, say, 12 hours of sunlight. Unless that tree is looking pretty unhealthy by now, I think they may be overestimating the amount it's leaking.
Posted by Mentle  in  Canada  on  Fri Aug 11, 2006  at  11:41 PM
This can't have anything to do with transpirational pull. Think about it. Otherwise whenever you chopped down a tree you'd get little jets of water squirting out of the stump.

It's got to be some kind of naturally formed channel inside the tree (maybe created by insects?) that some underground source of water is pushing up through.
Posted by The Curator  in  San Diego  on  Sat Aug 12, 2006  at  01:11 AM
Transpirational pull requires evaporation from the leaves of the plant. when you cut a tree down, you remove the section of the tree with the leaves. Since it is transpirational PULL, removing the leaves stops the process.
Posted by Cthelmax  in  England  on  Sat Aug 12, 2006  at  05:51 AM
It doesn't say where this tree is located, but here in the south we have what are called "water oaks". I am not referring to the actual species of water oak but a descriptive term. Basically these are oaks that the xylem (heartwood portion)has rotted out through injury or disease. The tree is still alive but sickly because it is dependent on the outer layers of the xylem (sapwood) for nourishment. The deterioration continues moving outwards. In the area I live, Blue Ridge Mountains, there are numerous springs. Although it is rare, occasionally a tree will tap into one and the water will flow upwards and come out any holes in the tree. There is a stump from one of these oaks on my parents property. The hole always full of water from a spring underneath. The animals and birds use it as a water trough/bird bath.
Posted by Pathfinder  on  Sat Aug 12, 2006  at  09:55 AM
No, this is certainly more than just transpiration at work. Transpiration is actually a very small-scale sort of activity, with individual molecules of water pulling each other along. The only reason why it can move a hundred gallons a day is because of the huge number of xylem channels in a large tree trunk and the narrow diameter of each xylem cell. That wouldn't get you anywhere near enough water or pressure in one little area like that; the tree would need to be transpiring thousands of gallons a day, and would have water shooting out of its leaves like a fountain. Which would really be great to see, now that I think on it.

There has to be some sort of external water supply with a fair amount of pressure behind it, such as a spring or water main or a bit of lost alien technology from Atlantis.
Posted by Accipiter  on  Sat Aug 12, 2006  at  11:21 AM
Naturally the water has "special healing properties"; no chance that it could be poisonous. Some other special properties it could have include curing dehydration in plants and animals, cleansing people of dirt, extinguishing fire and the ability to levitate even the largest supertanker.
Posted by Captain Al  in  Vancouver Island, Canada  on  Sat Aug 12, 2006  at  11:37 AM
There was a tiny leak in a pipe on my street not to long ago, and it was coming up through the ground directly underneath the telephone pole! That was weird to see water streaming out from a telephone pole!
They fixed it, and then two days later it happened again further down the street.
Funny!
Posted by thephrog  on  Sat Aug 12, 2006  at  12:51 PM
Jeez! Can't a tree take a pee?

pepe
Posted by pepe nero  on  Sat Aug 12, 2006  at  12:56 PM
Ok, so not transpiration. Then I have no idea why it would do that. Pressurized water pushing up through it seems even weirder to me. O_o
Posted by Mentle  in  The Left Coast of Canada  on  Sat Aug 12, 2006  at  05:29 PM
Woah, Captain Al! Don't get carried away with your magical properties of water! Let's try to stay rational here.

Does anybody happen to know how deep or shallow the water table in that area is?
Posted by Accipiter  on  Sun Aug 13, 2006  at  02:24 AM
Has anyone tested that miracle water for elevated levels of hydrogen yet? It could be a danger to public health!
Posted by Cthelmax  in  England  on  Sun Aug 13, 2006  at  05:53 AM
This isn't unique. Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee has a similar tree pumping thousands of gallons per day. That's much more than this tree in the article. This must be a beginner water tree.
Posted by Jack Brooks  in  Virginia  on  Sun Aug 13, 2006  at  12:18 PM
Interesting... transpirational pull is not the only way water gets up trees - there is also from time to time a root pressure. I have seen young birch stumps, cut in spring, pour out very watery sap at a remarkable rate. Some people cut them deliberately and collect the sap to make wine. But even so it is not quite as much as is described here.
Posted by The Virtual Ranger  in  Isle of Wight  on  Sun Aug 13, 2006  at  02:04 PM
Ok this area is under sever drought conditions. The water table has to be pretty deep, or at least below normal... There are a couple of strong rivers in the area, but nothing close enough to dramatically alter subterranian features.

As for fault lines and some of the other geophysical processes mentioned, the ares it pretty stable with caverns and other formations, but no major pressure on the water table. There is a huge aquifer in the area (ogallala aquifer) but it's pretty low right now due to the drought and heavy draining from the cities.

All in all, it seems to be a mystery. Luckily, the public water services pump enough chlorine and flouride into tap water that it should be easy to tell apart from spring water...
Posted by Rowdy  in  Dallas, Texas  on  Sun Aug 13, 2006  at  03:19 PM
I just saw this on cnn apparently self-watering trees make national news. On the picture I saw the house behind Mrs. Pope seemed pretty old. In Michigan at old farm houses you can sometimes see trees that have grown over all sorts of things like old fence posts or clothes lines. I wonder how long she has owned that house and if the tree might have grown over an old well water pump. If it was from a well it wouldn't show up on her city water records. Just a thought
Posted by Locke Aegis  in  Michigan  on  Mon Aug 14, 2006  at  05:17 AM
They may want to check the leak for traces of Dihydrogen Monoxide. Could be dangerous.
Posted by Silentz  in  case of emergency  on  Mon Aug 14, 2006  at  11:49 AM
Not only is there a serious risk of dihydrogen monoxide, but the air around that tree is probably permeated with nitrogen. A high enough nitrogen concentration will asphyxiate a person in only a few minutes.
Posted by Big Gary  in  Turkey, Texas  on  Mon Aug 14, 2006  at  06:37 PM
*cough*
Posted by Grain  in  Bay Area, CA  on  Mon Aug 14, 2006  at  06:49 PM
My grandfather, long ago, was the head of the county water district. And for some mysterious reason, even today (though he died 10 years ago, and switched jobs ~45 years ago) the sprinklers in the yard of his old house do not register on the water meter.
Posted by Splarka  on  Mon Aug 14, 2006  at  10:20 PM
It seems that a simple test would be able to determine if the water was natural or treated. By determining what is in the water you would be more educated to guess where the source of the water lies.
Posted by Ann  in  Colorado  on  Wed Aug 16, 2006  at  02:20 PM
When do they expect water samples finallized? I'm interested to see what they may be drinking.
Posted by Howard  on  Wed Aug 16, 2006  at  03:44 PM
I heard that this is water of life and it has a special property, a sort of fountain of youth! get it while you can...I went and got a half gallon...Mmmmm Mmmmmm and all of a sudden my hair started to grow and my aches and pains went away and I'm so energetic and I only had a small glass full! WoW!
Posted by Age old healer  in  Earth  on  Fri Aug 18, 2006  at  12:30 AM
http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/metro/stories/MYSA081706.01A.Tree_Follow.302fc8c.html

"San Antonio Water System workers turned off the water to his house at the street Wednesday morning, and when they did, the flow from the tree ceased..."
Posted by Splarka  on  Sat Aug 19, 2006  at  01:46 AM
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