Tags >> resources
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.

 

Sep 09
2009

United Plant Savers

Posted by Bruce Robinson in resources , open space , nonprofit orgs , medicine , Health , environment , drugs , conservation , climate change , agriculture , activism

Bruce Robinson

 

Preserving biological diversity isn’t the only reason for protecting endangered plant species—in some cases, its good for our health, too.

United Plant Savers emerged in the 1990s, primarily in response to the depletion of naturally occurring supplies of popular medicinal herbs, explains Executive Director Lynda LeMole. Until that time, most of them were harvested by hand, in a process known as “wild-crafting.”

While herbal medicine is most commonly associated with the orient, eastern practitioners have long had a keen appreciation for certain medicinal plants from North America, especially American Ginseng, seen being harvested at left.

 

Commercial cultivation of many medicinal herbs is complicated by the challenges in replicating their natural growing conditions, particularly for those, like American Ginseng, that are found on the forest floor. Even here in Sonoma County, where conditions favor a wide range of crops, many sensitive herbs will not thrive. That's another factor complicating the preservation of the "at risk" herbs on the list below.

United Plant Savers “At-Risk” List 

  • American Ginseng - Panax quinquefolius
  • Black Cohosh - Actaea  racemosa (Cimicifuga)
  • Bloodroot - Sanguinaria canadensis
  • Blue Cohosh - Caulophyllum thalictroides
  • Echinacea - Echinacea spp.
  • Eyebright - Euphrasia spp.
  • False Unicorn Root - Chamaelirium luteum
    Goldenseal - Hydrastis canadensis
  • Lady’s Slipper Orchid - Cypripedium spp.
  • Lomatium - Lomatium dissectum
  • Osha - Ligusticum porteri, L. spp.
  • Peyote - Lophophora williamsii
  • Slippery Elm - Ulmus rubra
  • Sundew - Drosera spp.
  • Trillium, Beth Root -Trillium spp.
  • True Unicorn - Aletris farinosa
  • Venus’ Fly Trap - Dionaea muscipula
  • Virginina Snakeroot - Aristolochia serpentaria
  • Wild Yam - Dioscorea villosa, D. spp.

 

There is a full list of botanical sanctuaries (including three  in northern California) among the  resources at the United Plant Savers website.


Lynda LeMole, Executive Director of United Plant Savers, will be the featured speaker tonight at the Science Buzz Café  in their new home at the Youth Annex adjacent to the Sebastopol Community Center, at 7 pm.

Aug 31
2009

Greywater Rules Relaxed

Posted by Bruce Robinson in water , waste , Sonoma County , resources , public safety , legislation , Health , government , environment , construction , climate change , California

Bruce Robinson

Residential greywater systems are now legal in California, and most modest residential installations don’t ever require a permit. But exactly how the changed rules are being implemented remains a little murky.

 

Sonoma County PRMD deputy director Duane Starnes explains why diverting laundry water outflow to a greywater reservoir also requires some additional changes to the household’s existing plumbing, such as the diversion valve shown at right.

Art Ludwig, a long-time advocate for legalizing greywater systems, says the state’s new rules allowing them carry an almost symbolic significance that extends well beyond mere plumbing.

Ludwig's Oasis Design website has detailed and illustrated instructions on how to install a "laundry to landscape" greywater system.

The Bay Area's Greywater Guerrillas are another online resource.

 

 

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.

 



 

 

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