Tags >> planning
Sep 15
2009

Sonoma Coast Wave Power

Posted by Bruce Robinson in West County , weather , water , technology , Sonoma County , resources , planning , ocean , fish , environment , design , conservation , community , coast , climate change , California , alternative energy

Bruce Robinson

Wave power off the Sonoma County coast is a potentially carbon-free source of electricity, but it faces big questions about environmental impacts and economic viability.

You can read more about the project on the Water Agency's website.The image at right shows one prototype of a low-profile generator which could be deployed in an array of dozens of individual units, as illustrated below, to power a sizable area.

The Sonoma County Water Agency's first informational meeting about the wave power studies was held in Gualala on September 9th. Most of the people there, reports Richard Charter, knew nothing about the project before that meeting.


Two other study projects on the Northern California coast have received permits from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), both issued before the Sonoma County Water Agency's application was approved. Cordell Stillman (left with Water Agency boss Randy Poole) says both sites were sought by PG&E, but other than that, they are quite different in status and approach.

While the entire concept of wave-generated electricity is in its very earliest stages, Richard Charter  (left) observes that it holds some benefits from an environmental perspective, but it is hardly a clear or easy solution to meeting future power needs.

 

Aug 20
2009

Marin Desalination

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , technology , resources , protest , planning , ocean , news , Marin , government , energy , conservation , coast , climate change

Bruce Robinson

The Marin Municipal Water District has taken another significant step toward building a saltwater desalination facility to stabilize their water supplies, but critics remain adamantly opposed to the project.

Paul Heliker (right), General Manager of the MMWD, believes that the desalination facility is needed to protect Marin residents from possible future droughts and the economic havoc they could cause.

Sharp questions about the safety and purity of the desalinated water were raised again at this week’s water district meeting, but Heliker says those concerns should have been settled by the results of the district’s own tests of the reverse osmosis technology with the same water that the larger plant would use.

Adam Scow, California Deputy Director for water programs for the national consumer advocacy group, Food and Water Watch, is among the vocal skeptics who question the need and cost of the proposed desalination plant. He points to a report commissioned by his organization that disputes the underlying assumptions the district uses to make its case for the project. You can read that report here.

 

For its part, the district has prepared a 9-page slide show on their desalination project, which is much easier to digest than the full Environmental Impact Report, which is posted here. At left is a map showing where the proposed plant would be situated.

 



 

 

Jul 20
2009

Sutter's Plans

Posted by Bruce Robinson in Sonoma County , public safety , policy , planning , nonprofit orgs , medicine , healthcare , Health , government , finances , construction , business

Bruce Robinson

Sutter Health proposes building a new, smaller hospital at the Wells Fargo Center, north of Santa Rosa, to replace the old medical campus on Chanate Road. But critics, including rival hospitals, worry that the new facility will be too small.

 The planned $176 million, 70 bed hospital would have barely half the 135 beds at the current Sutter Medical Center of Santa Rosa, still known to long-time locals as Community Hospitlal (right). Such downsizing could rupture the delicate  balance among local hospitals regarding who cares for the poor and uninsured patients in the area, says Dr.Gary Greensweig, Director of Medicine for St. Josephs' Healthcare of Sonoma County. He notes that the existing Sutter facilites now provide about 30% of that car, and their Health Care Access Agreeement with the county, the contract that Sutter accepted when they first came to Sonoma County, stipulates that the same level of care be maintained.

 

Sutter has been weighing the construction of a new hospital on the grounds of the Wells Fargo Center for the Arts for several years now. The current proposal would be situated on the northwest corner of the property, as shown in the site map below. With a specific project under consideration, Sutter spokeswoman Lisa Amador says they are already well into the process of drafting the Environmental Impart Report that the project will eventually require.

 

 Supervisor Shirlee Zane, the only member of the board to give an indication of her leanings on the proposal, appeared cautiously supportive. She also raised the spectre of Sutter following through on their earlier bid to leave the county altogether if their project is not approved.

 

 

Jul 13
2009

SMART's Railcar Decision

Posted by Bruce Robinson in transportation , technology , Sonoma County , policy , planning , nonprofit orgs , Marin , government , finances , environment , energy , economy , design , construction , community , carbon , business , budget , air quality

Bruce Robinson

The Sonoma-Marin commuter train faces a pivotal decision this week, as its directors choose the type of rail cars they will design the rest of the line to match.

The SMART Board of Directors Meets on Wednesday, July 15 at 12:30 pm in the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors chambers to consider the railcar purchase and other business.

 The regulatory standards set by the US Federal Railroad Administration are the biggest single factor shaping SMART's choice for new rolling stock (as railroad cars are often called). SMART General Manager Lillian Hames explains those standards are especially stringent in situations where freight and passenger trains share the same set of tracks.

 The global financial woes of the past year are also affecting SMART, Says Hames, particularly their plans to issue bonds against future sales tax revenues. They are hoping to bridge the funding gap with grants, cost savings in planning and construction, and other measures.

One of the variables tied to the choice of rail vehicles that SMART will use is the height of the floor height above the tracks, which is a function of such design considerations as fuel tank placement and structural engineering. The difference could be 24 inches or more, but either way, the passenger loading platforms at each of the 15 stations along the line will have to be built to match the train's floor level, so that wheelchair users can easily access the cars. These new platforms, says Hames, will likely look quite different than the wooden decks seen along historic train stations.

{mp3remote}http://media.krcb.org/audio/nbr/platformsremote}

 

Jul 12
2009

Connecting the Community with KRCB

Posted by Cheryl Scholar in volunteer , policy , planning , community

Cheryl Scholar

KRCB's mission is to encourage full participation in society and community. We do that by providing educational, informational and cultural telecommunications services in partnership with the community.  Like every organization with a mission, we like feedback - how are we doing?

The FCC (Federal Communications Commission) requires every public broadcasting organization to have a group of community members who can effectively provide input to the station's governing board about the station's programming, community service and impact on the community. At KRCB this group is called the  Community Advisory Council (formerly the Community Advisory Panel), which meets four times a year (sometimes more) to talk about how KRCB is doing in terms of meeting our mission and goals. It is a lively group with good ideas and lots of energy.

At this time we are seeking to expand the membership of our Community Advisory Council. We are particularly looking for people who can represent the following communities: Petaluma,  Sonoma, Kenwood, Cloverdale, Healdsburg, and Windsor,  as well as outlying unincorporated areas of Sonoma County such as Roseland. We would also welcome our supporters from Marin County who could help us connect with their communities.

Please give Cheryl a call at (707) 584-2005 if you think you would be a good candidate for the Community Advisory Council, or if you would just like more information (curiosity is good!) You can e-mail me at cheryl_scholar@krcb.org  You will need to fill out an application and submit it to the station before the end of August. We anticipate final appointments will be made by our Board of Directors at their first meeting in September.

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