Water Week (May 1-8, 2010)
Utah might just be the only state with official designation for a weeklong water celebration—even the Boy Scouts only get one day. In 2007 Stephanie Duer, water conservation coordinator for the Salt Lake City Department of Public Utilities, set out to create an event to deliver information about water conservation. She took the idea from engineer-run American Water Works Association, but she says most folks found a lecture approach stuffy and boring.
The event is based on educating about the water cycle, how it becomes potable and how and why conservation is important—especially in Utah—but it’s not about lecturing. She sought out enigmatic speakers and movies, like Tapped, to liven things up. Each year, more organizations get involved with the May festivities; in 2009, Hogle Zoo and Tracy Aviary joined in the fun, along with a water-inspired poetry slam.
Friends of the Great Salt Lake
There’s less than half a million visitors per year to the Great Salt Lake, in large part because the lake is easily misunderstood. While too many people see a shallow, stinky lake with too many bugs, the Friends of the Great Salt Lake see a system, interconnected and valuable, whether for recreative, economic, consumptive and nonconsumptive uses. They recognize what so few understand as an amazing natural resource in the city’s backyard. “It’s so dang subtle, it’s hard to teach the pithy issues and value of the system and our responsibility as stewards,” says FOGSL executive director Lynn de Freitas.
FOGSL also helps protect the lake from overuse and polluters. Thanks to their efforts, it just might not become toxic or vanish like Eastern Europe’s Aral Sea.Fire
Raser Technologies, Inc.%u2028
5152 N. Edgewood Drive,%u2028 Provo
Provo-based Raser Technologies is best known for its 100-mpg electric Hummer, but it also makes energy in southern Utah that’s virtually emission free, using generators in a space the size of a Hummer sales lot or two. As one of the most sought-after forms of renewable energy, geothermal can be produced around the clock without the sun or wind. It’s been possible to harness geothermal for about 100 years, but Raser has made it more accessible. Typically requiring groundwater at over 400 degrees Fahrenheit to produce steam (which turns turbines, generating electricity), Raser’s system can use water at just 280 degrees.
Renewable portfolio standards drive the purchase of geothermal. California has ’em; Utah, not so much. So, unfortunately for Utah, all of Raser’s energy goes to Anaheim, Calif. When Raser’s generators reach full capacity, it will produce approximately 10 megawatt hours, powering 8,000-10,000 homes. If you think that’s a lot, a consultant firm, GeotherEX, recently estimated Utah, at full capacity, could produce up to 238 megawatt hours of geothermal power. This is, at minimum, an untapped resource.
Many people have heard about eco-nuts who beg for used vegetable oil from restaurants to run their biodiesel trucks—which they converted in their garages. Now, however, veggie cars can be driven by those without an engineering degree. Naturol Fuels offers state-of-the-art conversion equipment for 100 percent veggie burning and biodiesel and will even install it. For hybrids, more gas stations are also offering biodiesel, especially during the summer. A word of warning: It’s pricey, running into the thousands of dollars. That’s why Naturol specializes in converting long-haul fleets. But, for some, lowering emissions, reducing dependency on foreign oil and dropping fuel costs make it worthwhile.
Salt Lake City Division of Sustainability & Environment
City & County Building
451 S. State, Room 145
Businesses use about 55 percent of Salt Lake City’s energy, and production cutbacks could have a big impact on energy consumption. So, the city government’s been helping businesses become more environmentally responsible and economically viable—the two Es in e2. They started the program in 2003. Program coordinator Bridget Stuchry attributes the program’s popularity less to the businesses and more to customers demanding to know if companies are green, prompting companies to seek help.
Consultants from e2 do a site visit, look at all the possible energy inputs and then help determine pragmatic goals. “Some companies will have really lofty goals, so we help them realize small steps ... like efficient light bulbs,” Stuchry says. Upon adopting e2’s plan and showing results, they’re certified and receive a neat little decal. The best part: It’s free. Stuchry says, “Sustainable business is nothing more than smart business.”
Live Green SLC! Fair
May 8, 2010
Looking to make a eco-lifestyle upgrade but need help? Love barbecues but hate all the wasted paper plates? Well, the Live Green SLC! Fair is the place to be. Now in its seventh year, it has the largest green exposition in Utah—over 100 booths of businesses, services and advocacy groups offering resources for all things green.
In 2009, the music stage was bicycle powered. This year, there will be a solarpowered beer garden and an EcoChic Fashion Show. Don’t bring that old doomand-gloom attitude to this party. “Part of our mission is to have solution-oriented exhibits,” says festival coordinator Kim Angeli, who says she’s switched her vehicle to biodiesel and learned gardening and chicken-raising skills from advice at the fair.
While it might seem strange to have this event after Earth Day, the weather is better and it launches the summer festival season. You’ll never see Library Square as green.