Thread Tools
Sep 09, 2019, 10:03 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
Thread OP

Batteries in the Drink?

I have an on-going quest to get my town to allow model boating on the city waters. One issue that was raised gave me pause- How do I counter worries about potential pollution from batteries lost in the pond?

Yes I know- the lake is big, the batteries small; the potential PPM of nickel/cadmium/lead/lithium/sulfuric acid from a small fleet of sunken boats is probably well below any EPA limits, even if said batteries COMPLETELY dissolve. But hey, this is California, and ZERO is the target for such chemicals.

Anyone out there have direct experience with assessing the badness of batteries in the pond? Or with convincing city officials that it's no issue at all?
Sign up now
to remove ads between posts
Sep 10, 2019, 05:40 AM
Registered User


Life always has inherent risk.
How many full size boats carry brass, zinc plating, lead batteries have similar but much greater risk in terms of sheer number. How many firearms are shot over water? What if someone accidentally drops their cellphone in.
Should it be illegal to drop a iPad, radio, key remote in ocean too. Where did all these minerals and metals come from originally?
You could make a law making it illegal to pee into toilet or ocean if your urine has any drugs in it (birth control hormones, chemotherapy, isotopes from bone scan, antibiotics, heroin, etc.) these even seep through soil around outhouses.
What if a gas station tank near the pond starts to leak in ground. Will you replace those every 5 years.

Sep 10, 2019, 06:31 AM
Latitudes vs Attitudes
Bob Gaito's Avatar
Well...Pat you are right-and one AA pack wont do much but 20 nicad or lead acid packs over 10 yrs would be a disaster especially if there are fish in that pond that people eat -cadmium is poison and being heavy metal, it doesn't magically disappear-it builds in the environment and in the algae that the little fish eat and the large fish that eat the little fish-The same for lead and arsenic. No problem with NiMh or lipos-environmentally safe.

Oh...BTW..Jim, if a gas station in NY (where we drink aquifer water) springs a gets new tanks , a filter tower and a pump station. Pee all you want -but old unused drugs down the can is a no-no. our water wells are actually testing positive for certain drugs! The town has collection days for old drugs, paints,electronics,plutonium and solvents.
Last edited by Bob Gaito; Sep 10, 2019 at 06:38 AM.
Sep 10, 2019, 09:00 AM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
Thread OP
It's not easy to say how many batteries constitute a "disaster".

Looking at one of our local lakes, the Temecula "Duck Pond":
- I estimate it holds 20 million liters.
-EPA has limits for "chronic" levels of certain pollutants. For nickel, it's 52 micro-grams per liter (g/L)
- This works out to about 1 kg of nickel in the whole pond.
- There are also numbers for cadmium, lead, and zinc.

Now, that's a few but not a whole lot of NiMH batteries (btw, don't assume that nickel and lithium are "safe"!).
But- batteries don't just dissolve like AlkaSeltzer tablets. They will eventually rupture for sure, but the metals will slowly (very slowly) leach into the water.
And the water isn't stagnant, there is some flushing... no idea how much though. It will take a chemist experienced in such analyses to say what constitutes a risk, but I do expect it would be a whole load of batteries.

Why does the city care? After all, the ponds are posted No Swimming, Do Not Drink or Touch the Water (we use reclaimed water, which is a whole 'nother gripe of mine for another time). Well, not only are there fish and ducks in the ponds, but the ponds also discharge into waterways. Therefore, the city needs to know that they won't get sued for illegal pollutant discharges.
Sep 10, 2019, 09:09 AM
AndyKunz's Avatar
Don't tell them how many pollutants are in the dust blown off the desert, Pat. While we've already seen that California water is a carcinogen, this will make them have to put warnings on the air you breath.

And Heaven help you if you sweep your floors!

And you thought radon was a problem ...

Sep 10, 2019, 09:23 AM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
Thread OP
You'd love Temecula, Andy- it's a heavily Repub city in one of the last Repub strongholds in California, Riverside County. But even here, among all the flag waving, AR-toting, coal-rolling pickup truck driving ex-Marine citizens, there's an awareness that MORE pollutants in the water is a no-no. And I need to address that topic even with my Trump-supporting parks commissioners...

But please, none of THAT is what this thread is about, hoping not to get it bumped into LTUP!
Seriously, I'm looking for ways to convince the Powers that model boats are safe- I'm not looking for ways to complain about California politics here.

Last edited by patmat2350; Sep 10, 2019 at 09:51 AM.
Sep 10, 2019, 10:21 AM
AndyKunz's Avatar
I have long-time friends who live there and Lancaster, Pat. Both very similar areas in more ways than one.

Lithium isn't a heavy metal problem and probably far easier to sell them on. Nobody imho should be using NiCd any more. NiMH is far greener. Pb should be a no-brainer for not using. Steel shot or granite for ballast.

You might also point out that you have adequate flotation foam in your models to prevent them from sinking as well.

If there's an issue with a board, get them to put on reasonable restrictions - Li-based power, no Pb, no Cd, and foam to prevent sinking below deck level.

Sep 10, 2019, 10:44 AM
Latitudes vs Attitudes
Bob Gaito's Avatar
Wow-I did not think nickel was toxic. I learn something every day...and I 'd like to mention the recycle bins at Home depot,Target ,BJs and so on- how hard is it to drop your old batteries(yes transmitter AAs too) in an old coffee can and when full, bring them to a dump bin next trip to HD-not your kitchen garbage can.
Latest blog entry: Mark V Navy Seal SOC
Sep 10, 2019, 10:52 AM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
Thread OP
Thanks Andy... except for the ballast part! My boats are FULL of lead shot...

Another option: Just make it illegal to dump batteries into the lake... that absolves the city of any responsibility. You get caught sinking a boat in the lake, they can sue you (and your insurance) for costs of recovery and clean up. Riverside seems to do that:

Section 9.08.170 Water prohibitions.
No person shall swim, fish in, bathe, wade, row, sail, or operate any boat, craft, or other
device, on or in any pond, lake, stream, or water within or into a park, except at such place or
places authorized and provided by the City for such use; nor shall any person pollute the water
of any fountain, pond, lake, stream, or reservoir within a park or which would carry pollution to
the water of a fountain, pond, lake, stream, or reservoir within a park
; nor shall any person throw
any stone, earth, or other article into any stream, pond, or lake in any park in the City, and no
person shall dislodge or remove any earth or stone from any impounding dam in any such park.
(Ord 6526 2, 2000)
Last edited by patmat2350; Sep 10, 2019 at 11:22 AM.
Sep 10, 2019, 11:29 AM
Registered User
CaptCB's Avatar

I sent you a PM.

Sep 10, 2019, 11:32 AM
Plures Naves Quam Mentes
sound sailor's Avatar
I notice that the pond is completely surrounded by roads. Is there not runoff from those roads? What supplies the water in the pond? you should see what park goers throw into park ponds here. The biggest problem we have in running our boats is plastic bags/wrappers that park users throw into the pond
I wonder what a water sample from the pond would show. City ponds around here do not have very clear water and in fact often have hazardous algae bloom.
I realize none of this helps with your presentation to the powers that be but just caused be to wonder how clear that water is without model boats running in it.
Sep 10, 2019, 11:55 AM
AndyKunz's Avatar
I was at a straight line race in Hempstead one time. The police had a prisoner work detail there, cleaning up the pond shore. Needles (lots!), condoms, you name it. Totally gross.

Our boats would get rust on the driveshafts coming in off the water, instead of waiting until they were on the boat stand for a few days. I'd hate to see what was in that water.

Sep 10, 2019, 12:07 PM
Mmm, tugs...
patmat2350's Avatar
Thread OP
I realize that part of this is just defusing an argument that the do-nothings might use in their quest to do nothing (rather than working on a reasonable solution). But still, that calls for a solid argument on the battery question.
Mucky waters just mean they'll look for one more reason not to make it any worse.
Sep 10, 2019, 12:37 PM
AndyKunz's Avatar
True, and seeing that statute already exists, I'd say they've pretty well covered the issue. You can congratulate them on their forethought and planning with such a well-written item.

That ought to make the feel good and have no problem since you promise not to be a polluter.

Sep 10, 2019, 12:39 PM
AndyKunz's Avatar
And all that talk of murky water reminded me of an old joke I had already posted:


Quick Reply

Thread Tools

Similar Threads
Category Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Discussion Its legal to drink beer in German movie theaters Dave Barrow Life, The Universe, and Politics 9 Nov 02, 2017 05:11 PM
Discussion Idiocracy in America - Watering Crops With Brawndo Energy Drink kenpoprofessor Life, The Universe, and Politics 5 Dec 20, 2016 06:41 AM
Discussion Hobby King new low in advertising "drink and fly responsibly" tic HobbyKing 16 Oct 09, 2016 05:53 PM
Discussion Cop Pulls Driver Over for Drinking Coffee in the Land of the Truly Free Sonny McGhee Life, The Universe, and Politics 89 Oct 25, 2015 07:02 AM
Discussion Butterfly Battery in the Drink igiveup Scratchbuilt Indoor and Micro Models 3 Mar 09, 2007 05:10 PM