Posts Tagged ‘technology’

by Charlene Burgi

All too often, we fail to acknowledge how technology makes our lives easier. For example, I have always pretty much taken water for granted. If I turn on the faucet, I expect to get the water I need. This concept holds true for bathing, turning on the irrigation system, flushing toilets, washing clothes or any other task requiring water. A flick of the wrist is all it takes. I have always lived where potable water was delivered to our home . . . until recently. Since moving to the ranch it has struck me that this life-supporting commodity delivered to our home has more value than I acknowledged . . . even as a conservation specialist.

Country living has reduced the dependability of our water service to a party of one instead of a whole water district. Luckily, I have the good fortune of being married to a man MacGyver would envy when it comes to fixing anything. For example, the other day Jack said he wanted to change the location of the pressure tank at the well to give us more water pressure at the house. I had fair warning and considered what I planned to do that day that required water. I filled enough containers to sustain me for the time he thought it would take to do the job, and all went well (no pun intended).

However, the week before, we drove up from Marin to hear a crackling sound just before we lost electrical power. It was night, the generator backup was buried in the shop, and I madly ran around gathering candles for light. But without electricity, we didn’t have water when I turned on the faucet. Luckily, I had learned to stash about 10 gallons of this precious liquid after finding myself in trouble last winter. The frozen ground broke the main line coming into the house, and my knight in shining armor couldn’t make it up to the ranch for four days. Neighboring ranchers soon learned of my dilemma and brought gallons of water to me. Boy, did I learn to conserve during that time. I realized I must plan for emergency outages!

I have been humbled by these experiences. While I have dumped water from gallon jugs to flush a toilet, it could have been worse. Our forefathers (or mothers) would hand pump water from wells or streams and carry the water back to the house. Water had to be boiled to purify it. My back aches thinking of what it would be like washing clothes in a wood tub instead of pouring a bit of soap and fabric softener into the front loader. Until recently, I rarely gave a thought to the fine engineers and field workers at MMWD and NMWD who make certain that water is there for us 24/7. I guarantee there is nothing more disturbing than to flick my wrist now and have nothing come out of the faucet. Got water?

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by Bob Fairchild

In 2009, while planning for a major computer system upgrade to take advantage of improved technology, MMWD faced several obstacles. The biggest initial obstacle was that our server room did not have the cooling or electrical capacity to house the additional servers that would be needed for the transition. The type of upgrade we were doing required us to keep the existing system running while we built the new system in parallel on new servers. Fortunately, a relatively new technology called virtualization had emerged that provides the ability to run many servers on one physical machine. Virtualization is basically software that allows us to get a bigger bang for our hardware buck by having servers share costly CPUs and memory in a very efficient manner. So, instead of adding costly cooling and power to our server room, we decided that the only way for us to complete our upgrade was to add virtualization to the project and ultimately reduce our cooling and power needs.

In July of 2010 we successfully completed our planned system upgrade thanks in large part to our talented staff and virtualization technology. Since the initial upgrade project, we have continued to virtualize other servers within our data center. To date, we have virtualized about 80 percent of our servers and have plans to virtualize a few more. While we have added many virtual servers, our physical server count has dropped dramatically. This has saved thousands of dollars in hardware investments and will continue to save money in the future. Additionally, the energy load for our server room has dropped by 45 percent. We estimate the energy savings alone to be over $20,000 per year because of server virtualization. Of course, this reduced energy use has the added bonus of helping the district achieve its strategic goal of reducing its carbon footprint.

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by Keith Bancroft

GreenPlumbers USA is now offering all five of its training workshops online.  This will allow those interested in completing the 32-hour accreditation program to avoid the hassle of travel and to work on their own time, at their own pace. The program is certified by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and is composed of the following five workshops:

GreenPlumbers is an innovative national training and accreditation program that assists plumbers in understanding their role in the environment and public health. The organization’s goal is to train and deploy thousands of plumbers to promote the benefits of water conservation and the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. The focus is on changing consumer and plumbing behavior through the use of energy efficiency and water-saving technologies.

Please visit the GreenPlumbers website for more information.

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by Keith Bancroft

When it comes to laundry, Best Western Corte Madera Inn is on the cutting edge. The Marin County Green Business is part of a pilot program with MMWD to evaluate the water-saving effectiveness of ozone laundry systems.

ozone molecule

Ozone molecule

Ozone, a form of oxygen found naturally in the Earth’s atmosphere, is one of the most effective cleaning agents—better than chlorine and other commonly used disinfectants. Ozone removes electrons from the soils, breaking down the molecules so that they are released from the linens. Because it works best in cold water, ozone saves energy as well as reducing detergent, chemical and overall water use.

Ozone systems can benefit businesses such as hotels and gyms with large commercial laundry facilities. A 2009 study found that ozone laundry systems in hotels saved over 4,000 gallons of water per year per room, reduced the amount of hot water used for laundry by 98 percent, and cut annual utility bills by an average of $13,000.

MMWD is working with the county to expand the ozone laundry pilot program to Marin County Jail. Initial estimates are for annual water savings of over 400,000 gallons.

Although MMWD rebate programs are temporarily suspended, rebates for ozone laundry systems are available from PG&E for hotels /motels with fewer than 250 guest rooms and for fitness and recreational sports centers. The ozone laundry system(s) must be a newly purchased product and added on to a new or existing commercial washing machine(s). Learn more about the water-, energy- and money-saving benefits of ozone here.

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