Environment

Episode 46: Firesafe Council of Santa Cruz County

I sat down to talk fire safety with LizAnne Jensen and Ed Hayes of the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz in the EOC (Emergency Operations Center) of Santa Cruz County. LizAnne and Ed are volunteers, helping to spread the word about how homeowners can better prepare for wild fires. Both of them live neighborhoods that are heavily forested and have had brushes with wildfires in the past. We covered a number of topics:

What can I do now to plan ahead for a wildland fire?
What is the wildland-urban interface (WUI?)
What is a resilient forest, and why does it matter?
What impact will a changing climate have on wildfires here in Santa Cruz County?
What is a defensible space?
What is home hardening?
What can I do to make my home safer from wildfires?
What can my neighborhood do to become safer from wildfires?
Why should I attend one of the Fire Safe Council’s Home Hardening presentations?
What can I do if my home owner’s insurance is canceled?
What “special” items do I want in my Go Bag if I have to evacuate?
What can I do to get ready if a fire is threatening, but I don’t yet have to evacuate?
What should I do if I have to evacuate?
Why should I do an Evacuation Drill?
Why should I sign up for mailings from the Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County?

See also: Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County web site, Fire Safe Council of Santa Cruz County Facebook Page

Episode 42: Kevin Corr, Mold Guy

Kevin Corr grew up in San Jose, and ever since he was a kid, he always had a fascination with mold. I jest, of course! He didn’t come to mold – the mold came to him. Kevin is an entrepreneur, and the owner of Applied Real Estate Inspections – a Bay Area mold inspection company. Mold is a hot topic for many homeowners, and for anyone who’s ever had a water leak, they’ll tell you – it’s a tricky problem!

We talked about a great many subjects in this podcast episode:

  • How Kevin got into the mold inspection business?
  • How mold gets started and what mold needs to thrive.
  • Why people seem get so freaked out about mold.
  • Why there are no federal standards regarding safe levels of various molds.
  • The worst areas in Santa Cruz, Santa Clara, and Monterey for mold issues.
  • The kinds of houses that tend to have mold issues.
  • The difference between mold and mildew.
  • If a “musty” smell indicative of mold in a house.
  • Can mold migrate from one area to others in a house?
  • The worst mold case he’s ever seen
  • Easy home remedies or do-it-yourself resources for mold abatement

Episode 35: Manu Koenig talks Santa Cruz Rail Corridor

One of the most divisive issues in Santa Cruz County today is what to do with the Santa Cruz Branch Line Rail Corridor. The Santa Cruz County Regional Transportation Commission is about to vote on it’s “preferred scenario” for the rail corridor (and a number of other transportation projects) at its meeting on January 17, 2019 – where it is quite likely to approve $1+ billion in spending over the next 30 years, which will likely include the creation of passenger rail service along the corridor.

There’s a competing, and much more compelling, vision for the future, which is advocated by Santa Cruz County Greenway. The folks from Greenway want to establish a multi-mode pedestrian / bicycle / e-bike etc. trail. The Greenway folks feel that their vision can be achieved much more quickly, with significantly less expense, and with far better results than what’s being proposed by the Santa Cruz RTC.

In this episode of the Podcast, Manu discusses many of the issues surrounding the future of the rail corridor, and will be very useful for anyone interested in informing themselves about the debate.

Greenway Web Site

Email Manu directly at manu.koenig@sccgreenway.org

Email the Santa Cruz RTC: info@sccrtc.org – comments due by Wednesday 1/16/19 @ noon

Episode 34: Soquel Creek Water District Talks Pure Water Soquel

In late December I had the pleasure of sitting down with Melanie Mow Schumacher and Ron Duncan of the Soquel Creek Water District (SCWD). Melanie is their Special Projects Communication Manager and Ron is the general manager. I was there to discuss Pure Water Soquel, which is a project that aims to recycle water for Soquel Creek Water District customers.

I’ve been hearing about this project for a couple of years now, but the board of directors of the Soquel Creek Water District recently voted to approve the EIR (Environmental Impact Report) for the project and it is now officially moving forward. I had a lot of questions about the project, and what it means for customers of SCWD.

I learned a lot during our conversation. I knew that the aquifers that SCWD draws on are critically overdrafted, but I didn’t know that it is one of only 20-ish groundwater basins out of 500 in the state of California that are designated as such by the State. Being in a state of overdraft is a big problem hereabouts, because it means that salt water is intruding into our fresh water supply, which threatens to make it undrinkable, and that would be very bad business indeed.

The Pure Water Soquel project aims to tackle this overdraft by adding about 30% of the daily consumption of the aquifer back through recycling water. The plan calls for recycled water from the city of Santa Cruz Regional Wastewater Treatmenet Facility to be purified and pumped back down into the aquifer and thus back into the supply. This should push out the seawater and help to make the aquifer sustainable again – which it hasn’t been, for 50 years or more.

It was a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion, and I hope you get as much out of it as did I.

Pure Water Soquel – Project Information Page

Soquel Creek Water District Board Meeting – December 4, 2018 – on YouTube

Seb Frey drinks Recycled Water – on SebFrey.TV

Jack Black Drinks from the Porcelain Springs

Episode 30: Rex Northen is Saving the World with Cleantech

Rex Northen is saving the world with cleantech. If you were to ask him if that’s true or not, I’m sure he’d demur and say no, or that it’s an exaggeration.  If you ask me, it certainly isn’t an exaggeration, although of course, he isn’t doing it single-handedly.  Rex is only one of, I’m sure, hundreds of thousands of people working to save our planet – but he’s going about it in ways that few people are thinking about. It’s difficult to overstate the importance of his work, because climate change is an existential threat to our very viability as a species. Rather than just fret, protest, and be afraid, Rex is out there working to find solutions to the Earth’s rapidly warming climate.

And he’s doing so in a very practical, very Silicon Valley way: working to create commercially viable clean technologies that will reduce carbon emissions and other toxic waste products at such scale that they will positively and measurably reduce greenhouse gas emissions. And that’s a very exciting prospect indeed, as it may mean that our children and grandchildren might actually have a bright future on this big blue marble.

I realize that there are a lot of altruistic people out there who will take exception to the idea that we can save the Earth through commercially viable means. However, if you think about it, the greatest likelihood of making the kinds of dramatic reductions in greenhouse gas emissions is through the creation of green, clean technologies that will compete cost effectively in the market against all the “dirty” technologies of old.

Don’t think so? Then this episode of the Bay to Bay Podcast is definitely for you. It’s also for you if you think you have an idea for a clean technology that could be commercially viable and you’re looking for a way to bring it to market and turn it from an idea into reality.

Contact Rex Northen via email at rex at merexa.com

Find Rex Northen on LinkedIn