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SFSU Seeks to Reduce Water Consumption

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By Jonathan Morales

Despite this past weekend’s rain showers, drought conditions persist in California, and SF State is asking students, faculty and staff to cut back on their water usage.

Prolonged below-average rainfall — 2013 was California’s driest year on record — has depleted the state’s water supplies and led Governor Jerry Brown to declare a drought emergency. In making the declaration, Brown asked Californians to reduce their water use by 20 percent.

SF State is committed to doing its part to conserve water, said Sustainability Coordinator Nick Kordesch, and that conservation can come through a variety of methods. When washing their hands, students, faculty and staff can turn off the faucet while lathering. Students living in the residence halls can take shorter showers and turn off the water while shaving or brushing their teeth. And all members of the SF State community are encouraged to report leaky faucets or pipes to a building coordinator or resident assistant.

“Everything starts with individual actions,” Kordesch said. “If we’re going to get to 20 percent water reduction as a state, all of these conservation activities that people do on their own can make a difference.”

As part of its ongoing commitment to sustainability, SF State has undertaken a number of initiatives in recent years to reduce the campus’ water use. These include replacing lawns with natural grasses that require less watering; installing low-flow faucets, showers and toilets; and creating landscapes that reuse water, such as bioswales that collect rainwater and use it for surrounding plants.

In addition, said Senior Director of Facilities and Services Enterprises Chuck Meyer, the campus has begun installing modern irrigation controls and worked to fix leaks in underground pipes, and is investigating ways to reuse waste water from the campus fuel cell plant.

Altogether, the University reduced its annual water consumption by roughly a third since 2007.

“Some of the things we’ve already done are going to pay off during the drought,” Kordesch said, adding that SF State’s environmentally friendly mindset is an advantage during such conditions. “If each of our 30,000 students can make some adjustments to their water use, SF State can make a big difference collectively.”

In addition to reducing their own water use, Kordesch is encouraging all students, faculty and staff to spread the word among their friends and colleagues about the drought and reducing water use.

 

Bay Area

Sir Francis Drake Boulevard Lighting Update to Begin

Overseen by the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW), the lighting update project will address street lighting that was installed during the Upgrade the Drake project, completed in November 2021, replacing a selection of lighting poles with shorter, decorative poles, and dimmer fixtures.

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The street light revisions are being funded by the remaining budget of the Upgrade the Drake project and the Marin County Street Light Fund. To further offset the cost, DPW will explore resell opportunities for the currently installed street light poles, which are a standard pole design used across California.
The street light revisions are being funded by the remaining budget of the Upgrade the Drake project and the Marin County Street Light Fund. To further offset the cost, DPW will explore resell opportunities for the currently installed street light poles, which are a standard pole design used across California.

Courtesy of Marin County

Work will begin the first week of August to revise street lighting on the median islands along one mile of Sir Francis Drake Boulevard, between Manor Road in Kentfield and Eliseo Drive in Greenbrae.

Overseen by the Marin County Department of Public Works (DPW), the lighting update project will address street lighting that was installed during the Upgrade the Drake project, completed in November 2021, replacing a selection of lighting poles with shorter, decorative poles, and dimmer fixtures.

The work starting next week will be the first phase of the project and will focus on structural foundations and wiring connections. This phase is expected to take about one month to complete, finishing in time to avoid the influx in traffic expected when the school year starts in late August.

Traffic impacts are expected to be minimal. A 500-foot stretch of one eastbound lane on Drake Boulevard will be closed for the duration of phase one. Traffic is expected to flow normally through the other two lanes. However, during the first week of August, there will be an additional lane closure of a westbound lane for two days to ensure crew safety during some initial work on several poles. The lane closures may cause traffic delays during peak commute hours.

The second phase is expected to begin sometime in the fall. A selection of existing street light poles will be removed and replaced with shorter, decorative light poles. In April 2022, the Marin County Board of Supervisors approved the purchase of the new light poles, costing an estimated $300,000. The poles require significant manufacturing lead time, taking approximately six months to be fabricated and delivered. DPW expects the new poles to be available in October.

 In response to community concerns regarding lighting enhancements implemented during the Upgrade the Drake project, the street lighting project is intended to reduce light dispersal on adjacent properties, decrease light intensity, and improve aesthetics while still maintaining the lighting uniformity levels necessary for public safety. The shorter, decorative poles with dimmer fixtures will require closer spacing to achieve sufficient light levels on the roadway, resulting in a net increase in total lights. Statistically, uniform nighttime street lighting improves safety for all modes of transportation.

In January 2022, DPW replaced lighting fixtures at intersections and added backshields to help block light dispersal outside of the roadway and sidewalks. In June, the County replaced all remaining light fixtures on existing poles throughout the 2.2-mile corridor from the Town of Ross to Highway 101, as well as adding more backshields where necessary. The dimmer fixtures have a brightness of 5,000 to 8,000 lumens, depending on the needs of each location. For comparison, the removed fixtures had a brightness of 12,000 lumens.

The street light revisions are being funded by the remaining budget of the Upgrade the Drake project and the Marin County Street Light Fund. To further offset the cost, DPW will explore resell opportunities for the currently installed street light poles, which are a standard pole design used across California.

Learn more about the lighting project, as well as the separate landscaping improvements along Drake Boulevard and all the other various DPW projects, by visiting DPW’s projects webpage.

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Bay Area

Parks Pursues Land Acquisition Near China Camp

The County of Marin purchased 33 acres of the Buck’s Landing site in 2020 for $1.6 million – $1.1 million from Measure A and $500,000 from the California State Coastal Conservancy. The purchase was a culmination of almost a decade of advocacy by members of the Santa Venetia community, who sought more public access to Gallinas Creek. The site had been privately owned by the same family for about 70 years and used as a roadside bar, a brickyard, and a boat storage facility.

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Marin County Parks’ long-term goal for the Buck’s Landing property is to maintain public to access the bay, protect natural habitat, and provide recreational opportunities.
Marin County Parks’ long-term goal for the Buck’s Landing property is to maintain public to access the bay, protect natural habitat, and provide recreational opportunities.

Courtesy of Marin County

In a move to ensure more public access to San Francisco Bay wetlands and recreation, Marin County Parks is seeking approval to purchase 7.27 acres of the Buck’s Landing property on the edge of Gallinas Creek in unincorporated San Rafael. The County bought an adjacent property two years ago.

Parks personnel on July 12 will present a notice of intent to purchase before the Marin County Board of Supervisors for a parcel owned by three trusts of the Smith family. The purchase price is $1,850,000, with funds coming from Parks’ Measure A tax revenues that are earmarked for land acquisitions. Parks plans to present a draft purchase and sale agreement to the Board for consideration on August 9.

Buck’s Landing is at 665 North San Pedro Road, just over 2 miles northeast of the Marin County Civic Center. It is between the Santa Venetia neighborhood to the west and China Camp State Park to the east. Gallinas Creek flows into San Francisco Bay about a quarter mile from Buck’s Landing.

The County of Marin purchased 33 acres of the Buck’s Landing site in 2020 for $1.6 million – $1.1 million from Measure A and $500,000 from the California State Coastal Conservancy. The purchase was a culmination of almost a decade of advocacy by members of the Santa Venetia community, who sought more public access to Gallinas Creek. The site had been privately owned by the same family for about 70 years and used as a roadside bar, a brickyard, and a boat storage facility.

With the proposed purchase of an additional 7.27 acres, Parks’ long-term goal for the property is to maintain public access to the bay, protect natural habitat, and provide recreational opportunities, said Carl Somers, Parks’ Chief of Planning, Real Property, and Government Affairs. Community members have advocated for the acquisition of the site as a park for many years, leading staff to identify the area for protection in the 2008 Parks Strategic Plan.

“This is a long-term community priority that, if it comes to fruition, would secure public access to the bay,” Somers said. “It has existed there providing bay access for decades under private ownership. This acquisition would allow for much more flexibility in how the site can be managed as a park in the future.”

Measure A, a quarter-cent sales tax, was approved by countywide voters in 2012. An updated version of the measure was approved this June with nearly 75% support. By law, Measure A funds projects and programs that benefit parks, open space, and agricultural lands across Marin. In recent years, Parks has used Measure A acquisition funds to purchase Sky Ranch near Fairfax, the Corte Madera Baylands, and a portion of Bowman Canyon Ranch in western Novato.

On July 12, the Board will be asked to approve a resolution issuing a notice of intent to purchase the property and schedule a public hearing August 9 to collect feedback on and consider approving the proposal.

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Bay Area

New Design Phase Planned for Levee Project

The Flood Control and Water Conservation District has secured funding for the flood mitigation project from four sources, with the largest coming from a $3,235,180 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. In May, the District submitted a project scope of work and budget change request to FEMA to reallocate $1,515,170 from the grant, transitioning the funding from construction to design work, environmental compliance, and public outreach activities. A response from FEMA is expected this month.

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The Flood Control and Water Conservation District has secured funding for the flood mitigation project from four sources, with the largest coming from a $3,235,180 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant.
The Flood Control and Water Conservation District has secured funding for the flood mitigation project from four sources, with the largest coming from a $3,235,180 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant.

Courtesy of Marin County

At its July 12 public session, the Marin County Flood Control and Water Conservation District Board of Supervisors will consider awarding a $617,549 contract for engineering design services to develop a design for the Santa Venetia Levee Upgrade Project along Gallinas Creek. The project was put on pause in March 2022 following a cost estimate that exceeded available funding.

“This flood protection project is crucial to addressing the near-term sea level rise needs of the Santa Venetia neighborhood residents,” said Department of Public Works (DPW) Director Rosemarie Gaglione. “We are committed to developing a strong, final design for the project that will be ready to move forward once construction funding is secured.”

The Flood Control and Water Conservation District has secured funding for the flood mitigation project from four sources, with the largest coming from a $3,235,180 Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant. In May, the District submitted a project scope of work and budget change request to FEMA to reallocate $1,515,170 from the grant, transitioning the funding from construction to design work, environmental compliance, and public outreach activities. A response from FEMA is expected this month.

The engineering design firm will examine the project requirements and develop a final design that meets the flood protection needs of the community. To meet the deadline for the $1.5 million FEMA funding allocation, the engineering firm will need to finalize the design by the end of November 2022.

Once the final design is completed, District staff will work to secure additional funding and voluntary permanent easements before moving forward with construction. District staff plans to use the final design to apply for construction funding through FEMA, while also pursuing all other viable funding options that may be available for the project.

In terms of the FEMA grant process, the Santa Venetia levee project has a high benefit-to-cost ratio, meaning that the cost of creating the flood protection is low compared to the value of the properties that would be protected. The benefit-to-cost ratio is expected to make the project competitive in the next round of FEMA grant applications. District staff anticipates that the next opportunity to apply for competitive hazard mitigation funding will be in 2023.

Throughout this design and funding process, the District will continue to explore the acquisition of permanent easements from residents along Gallinas Creek on a voluntary basis. Those easements would support construction and all current and future maintenance of the levee.

In the meantime, the District will continue to prioritize the standard maintenance of the existing timber reinforced berm infrastructure along Gallinas Creek for the community. A public meeting is proposed for late July to provide a general update. For more information about the Santa Venetia Levee Upgrade Project and details on upcoming public meetings, visit SantaVenetiaLevee.org.

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