April 22 edition of:

Community Update - Earth Day Edition
A Report on the Activities of Alachua County Government

 

This Issues Features:

40 Years of Earth Day Celebrations
Alachua County Forever
County Solar Arrays
Rain Barrels
Sweetwater Branch Cleanup
Embrace Zero Waste
Embrace Zero Waste Events
What’s On “Alachua County Talks”
Florida Food Summit

Conservation Efforts
Collection and Disposal of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products
Update of Alachua County Comprehensive Plan
Wildfire Mitigation
Tree Planting at Newnan’s Lake
County ITS Energy Savings
Cabot-Koppers Update
Water Conservation Initiative Report
Landscape Irrigation and Fertilizer Codes Update
CAPP Funds
Springs Protection
Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory
Chestnut Park and Butler Nature Preserve Ribbon Cutting
Petroleum Clean-up



40 Years of Earth Day Celebrations

It is hard to believe that it has been 40 years. It is significant that the slogan, “Every Day is Earth Day” is the theme in many celebrations. Alachua County decided to demonstrate that this is a reality with a 22-Day Countdown to Earth Day. Beginning on April 1, 2010, we put out a media release each day highlighting the many services, programs, and events that we are involved in that focus on protecting our unique natural environment and building a more sustainable community. A sustainable community we will be proud to leave to future generations.

Over the years, a large majority of Alachua County residents have continually demonstrated an environmental ethic that reflects a desire for the stewardship of resources to be a high priority of our government. Through the Guiding Vision of the Board of County Commissioners, this priority has a voice and a direction. The services, programs, and events highlighted in this publication are the tangible manifestations of our efforts to meet these expectations.

Being good stewards of our environment is important. However, this document reflects the County’s innovative approach to government as well as a return on investment for our taxpayers. Our daily focus on environmental stewardship is consistent with our corporate leadership ethic of “Creating Respect for People and Place.”

- Randall H. Reid, Alachua County Manager

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Alachua County Forever

Alachua County Forever (ACF) is a land conservation program approved by Alachua County voters in 2000 and re-authorized in 2008 through the Wild Spaces & Public Places referendum. To date ACF has leveraged $30 million in local investment to preserve over $80 million in land (18,218 acres), by working with many public and private partners.

For more information about ACF, click here.

“Our community’s investment in land conservation represents perhaps the strongest and most durable commitment to local environmental protection.” stated Chris Bird, Environmental Protection Department Director.

The ACF program has initiated a new and rewarding partnership with the Inner City Outings Program (ICO). ICO is an outreach program of the Sierra Club. ICO’s mission is to provide opportunities for urban youth and adults to explore, enjoy, and protect the natural world. The partnership will bring hikers to ACF properties.

Recently, ACF, along with Sierra Club ICO volunteers, the Conservation Trust for Florida (CTF), Women for Wise Growth, and students from the UF School of Natural Resources and the Environment, arranged a hike at Levy Prairie for young women from the local group Girl Power. A second ICO hike is scheduled for April 14, 2010 with a group from Lake Forest Elementary.

For more information on the Inner City Outings, click here.

Other recent ACF events:

To arrange a guided tour, call ACF at 352-264-6800, or CTF at 352-466-1178.

For more information, contact Alachua County Land Conservation Manager, Ramesh Buch at 352-265-6804 or rpbuch@alachuacounty.us

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County Solar Arrays

In an effort to reduce and buffer rising energy costs, Alachua County is deploying locally available energy alternatives. The County has committed resources to both solar and liquid fuel alternatives.

Speaking about this energy commitment, Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager Sean McLendon said, “Energy costs are expected to rise over the next ten years due to peaking supplies and increasing global competition.” He continued, saying, “Solar energy is a native and abundant resource in Alachua County.”

Recognizing the need for clean and emission free energy resources, over 36kW of solar panels (in two arrays), enough to power 9-12 average homes, have been installed by Alachua County as of 2009. These two solar arrays, 11kW at the Environmental Protection Department Hazardous Waste Collection Center (click here to visit the website) and 25kW at the Public Works Leveda Brown Environmental Park (click here to visit the website) have produced 15,277 kWh of energy, $4,900 in revenue 2010 alone.  

Energy and revenue generated offset costs for County buildings.  As an added benefit, since 2009, 55 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions were avoided by the use of the panels.

These systems were part of the first round of Feed in Tariff (FIT) funding from Gainesville Regional Utilities.  As a first of its kind program in the United States, GRU purchases all the power from the solar panels through the FIT agreement at $.032/kWh over 20 years.

Live data on the Environmental Protection (click here to visit the website) and Public Works (click here to visit the website) solar sites may be found online.

In addition to solar energy, Alachua County is also pursuing biodiesel production.  During the next quarter, the Environmental Protection Department plans to establish a biodiesel fuel production capability at the Hazardous Waste Collection Center.   Biodiesel will be produced from waste vegetable oil collected from the public at the Center. 

Pure biodiesel will then be blended with petroleum diesel fuel for use in Alachua County’s truck and off-road equipment fleet. This will decrease the use of petroleum derived fuel,  reduce the carbon footprint and improve the sustainability of Alachua County operations.

For more information, contact Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager, Sean McLendon at 352-548-3765.

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Rain Barrels

Alachua County Departments of Environmental Protection and Public Works are offering Rain Barrels for sale for $45.00 (tax included) on a year round basis (while supplies last).

Rain barrels can be purchased at the following locations:

For information about the SYSTERN Rain Barrel, click here.

To learn more about Water Conservation, click here.


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Sweetwater Branch Cleanup

Alachua County employees are celebrating Earth Day with a creek cleanup at Sweetwater Branch near downtown Gainesville on this afternoon, from 1:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. County employees have been invited to join this creek cleanup to remove trash and debris from a stretch of Sweetwater Branch south and downstream of East University Avenue.

Sweetwater Branch is one of Alachua County’s most urbanized watersheds, draining portions of downtown Gainesville and older residential areas, including the Historic Duckpond neighborhood. Much of these areas were built before current requirements for stormwater treatment facilities. When it rains, Sweetwater Branch creek receives a large amount of untreated stormwater runoff, including trash and debris from city streets, parking lots, residential and commercial areas. After leaving Gainesville, Sweetwater Branch flows through the Alachua County Forever Sweetwater Preserve and eventually drains into the area’s primary source of drinking water, the Floridan Aquifer, via Alachua Sink at Paynes Prairie State Park.

“This creek cleanup is a hands on opportunity for Alachua County employees to help celebrate the 40th anniversary of Earth Day. Many of today’s environmental challenges can seem overwhelming, but there are practical things we can do in our own community to make things better,” said Chris Bird, Alachua County Environmental Protection Director.

For more information, contact Chris Bird at 352-264-6801.

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Embrace Zero Waste

Alachua County and the City of Gainesville are helping residents to “Embrace Zero Waste,” by striving to eliminate the inefficient use of natural resources.  The curbside collection program has added more items to the list of recyclables collected at the curb.  Additionally, Alachua County, through its adoption of the Energy Conservation Strategies Commission’s recommendations, is pursuing the creation of a Resource Recovery Park.

Newest to the list of recyclables is pasteboard or boxboard (boxes that hold items like crackers and cereal, toothpaste and cake mixes).  After any plastic liners are removed, these items should be flattened and placed in the orange recycle bins. Other items for the orange recycle bin include: junk mail, magazines, newspapers, brown paper bags, catalogs, flyers and corrugated cardboard (no pizza boxes, paper towels or tissues). 

Yogurt and margarine containers are now accepted in the blue recycle bin. Other items for the blue recycle bin include: plastic and glass bottles and jars, aluminum and steel cans, including empty aerosol cans (remove the spray top). Remember to remove tops and rinse containers before recycling (this adds value, streamlines processes, and creates a safer work environment at recycling facilities).

The curbside yard waste recycling program no longer picks up waste at the curb in plastic bags.  All yard waste must be place in reusable containers or in paper lawn and leaf bags.

The upcoming Resource Recovery Park will work with private companies to process recyclable materials, including organic matter, or manufacture products from recycled materials. The Leveda Brown Transfer Station is planning an expansion to host these companies and services as part of this green industrial complex providing reuse, recycling, composting, and manufacturing jobs.  County staff are working with the Chamber of Commerce and Council for Economic outreach to develop existing Alachua County businesses and recruit targeted industries to be a part of this park.

Click here to watch an interview Neil Seldman, President of the Institute for Local Self Reliance, explaining the Resource Recovery project.

Click here to read more on the Alachua County Resource Recovery Park.

For more information about recycling, visit www.thewastewatcher.com or call 352-338-3233.

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Embrace Zero Waste Events

“Embrace Zero Waste” means eliminating the inefficient use of natural resources. This is the goal of the Alachua County Public Works Department’s, Waste Alternatives Division. The Division’s “Zero Waste Team” and “The Waste Watcher” (to go to The Waste Watcher’s website, click here) will be celebrating Earth Day with interactive exhibits at these special events:

The Waste Alternatives Division is also involved in the following projects:

For additional information about Embrace Zero Waste and Waste Alternatives programs, contact Jenny Seitz, Waste Alternatives Public Education Coordinator, at 352-374-5213 or jseitz@alachuacounty.us.

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What’s On “Alachua County Talks”

Check out the latest editions of Alachua County Talks on Community 12 TV by viewing the Channel 12 Show Schedule.

Click here to watch Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (EPD) Director Chris Bird provide an overview of Alachua County EPD services and initiatives, including water quality and conservation, land and habitat preservation, and pollution prevention.

Click here to watch Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager Sean McLendon give an in depth look at sustainability issues facing Alachua County and looks at efforts to address those issues, including the work of the County’s innovative Energy Conservation Strategies Commission (ECSC) and efforts to locate a resource recovery park in Alachua County to attract businesses which create products from recycled materials.

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Florida Food Summit

Alachua County partnered with the University of Florida (UF) Office of Sustainability, Darden Restaurants, Aramark Higher Education and University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to host the “Florida Food Summit,” April 12 - 13, 2010. The Food Summit, which was at UF, facilitated networking, dialogue, and visioning among members of the Florida food system, and helped develop the connections needed for robust farm-to-institution programs.

As a state-wide gathering of industry leaders, government agencies, and consumers, it was the first summit of its kind.  “We hope these discussions help promote economic development in regional food systems and healthy food choices.” said Sean McLendon, Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager.  

Support of this event ties into Alachua County’s efforts to promote food security, especially for the impoverished and malnourished in our County.  This event will be followed by the upcoming Fall 2010 Hunger Summit, an Alachua County Commission priority in addressing the Hunger Abatement Plan (click here to view).

Florida has long history of being an export market for agricultural goods.  However, there is also substantial public interest in organic, locally grown and value added food stuffs.  Based on this McLendon said that, “local food represents a remarkable growth industry creating new jobs that will also preserve the County’s agricultural heritage.”

The County Commission has promoted local food production and entrepreneurship with their support of the Citizens COOP (click here to visit website), and Blue Oven Kitchens incubator programs (click here to visit website).  Click here to view interviews with these organizations from the County’s half hour television interview show, “Alachua County Talks.”

For more information, contact Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager, Sean McLendon at 352-548-3765.

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Conservation Efforts

Energy efficiency and greenhouse gas reduction is a very important concern of the Alachua County Commission. The Alachua County Department of Administrative Services’ Facilities Management Division has made great progress with these concerns.
A new energy management tool “Utility Manager” will soon be in use. This online, utility bill database tool will allow the County to measure and analyze energy usage in all County Buildings.

According to Facilities Manager, Charlie Jackson, “You can’t manage what you don’t measure and Utility Manager gives us an organization wide insight into our total energy expenditures.” 

Other recent projects are contributing to the County’s goal of a 30 percent utility bill reduction by the end of 2010.
Projects include:

In February, the County Commission approved a “Utility Savings and Reinvestment” account into which savings from specific conservation and efficiency projects will be deposited. These funds will be reinvested in conservation enhancements to County run facilities through each year’s capital improvement program.  One of the first deposits to this account was over $76,000 in Gainesville Regional Utilities rebate checks received by the County for recent energy efficiency efforts.

“These efforts will have a significant impact on Alachua County’s carbon footprint in the future.” commented Environmental Protection Department Director, Chris Bird, “The Utility Manager program will provide invaluable information that enables us to monitor data and trends associated with CO2 emissions. This will help us meet our climate change commitments to report, monitor and reduce carbon dioxide.”

For more information, contact Alachua County Sustainability Manager, Sean McLendon at 352-548-3765.

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Collection and Disposal of Pharmaceuticals and Personal Care Products

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department has enhanced its current program for the collection and disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals and personal care products (PPCPs) from the general public through a new technical outreach initiative to hospitals, pharmacies and medical facilities.

Alachua County currently offers a safe and environmentally responsible service for the disposal of unwanted PPCPs free of charge to County residents. Unwanted medicines can be dropped off for proper disposal at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center located at the Leveda Brown Environmental Park and Transfer Station at 5125 NE 63rd Avenue (2 miles north of 39th Avenue off Waldo Road, Gainesville) and at other select locations. Alachua County’s service accepts prescription and over-the-counter medications (including pills, gel caps, capsules or liquids) that are unwanted, expired, damaged or unusable for their intended purposes. Over 1000 pounds of unwanted pharmaceutical and personal care products have been collected and properly disposed in the last 5 years.

Alachua County recently signed a grant agreement with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) to evaluate the local management and disposal of pharmaceutical waste by providing technical assistance to local hospital, pharmacies and other medical facilities on best management practices.  This new outreach effort will enhance the current, nationally recognized pharmaceutical waste collection program at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center. 

“Improper disposal of unwanted pharmaceuticals and PPCPs though dumping in domestic sewage systems can be harmful to local water resources, fish and wildlife in areas where surface or groundwaters receive discharges from domestic sewage treatment systems” said Chris Bird, Alachua County Environmental Protection Director. “Current sewage treatment systems are ineffective in removing low levels of pharmaceuticals in treated waste streams. Alachua County has been a national leader in developing a local alternative for the environmentally responsible collection and disposal of PPCPs. The County appreciates the opportunity provided by the FDEP grant to improve the local capacity to better manage these special wastes.”

Pharmaceutical waste disposal locations

Click here for additional information about the County’s Pharmaceutical Collection program.

For more information about the Alachua County’s pharmaceutical collection program and all other household hazardous waste information, contact Kurt Seaburg at the Alachua County Hazardous Waste Collection Center at 352-334-0440 or visit www.alachuacountyhazwaste.us.

For information about the new FDEP grant, contact Gus Olmos at 352-264-6806 or gus@alachuacounty.us.


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Update of Alachua County Comprehensive Plan

The Alachua County Growth Management Department invites the public to a series of workshops on the Update of the County’s Comprehensive Plan. These updates and amendments are based on the Evaluation and Appraisal Report (EAR) on the County’s Plan, which included recommendations adopted by the County Commission for new Elements on Energy and Community Health, as well as new policies on topics such as Agriculture and Local Food Systems, Sustainable Economic Development, Water Resource Protection, Air Quality, and Ecological Corridors.  

For information on the various draft amendments to the Comprehensive Plan and to provide input on the draft amendments click here.
Community workshops are scheduled for: 
•      Monday, April 26th at 6 p.m. - Millhopper Library (3145 NW 43rd Street, Gainesville)
•      Tuesday, May 4th at 6 p.m. - Town of Tioga Community Center (105 SW 128th St., Newberry)
•      Monday, May 10th at 6 p.m. - City of Alachua Branch Library (14913 NW 140th Street, Alachua)

For information about the Update of the County’s Comprehensive Plan based on the EAR including the different topics for discussion at upcoming workshops and meetings, click here.

For more information about the update of the County’s Comprehensive Plan based on the EAR, contact Ken Zeichner, AICP, Principal Planner for Comprehensive Planning in the Alachua County Growth Management Department at 352-374-5249.

 

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Wildfire Mitigation

Alachua County utilizes its “Wildfire Mitigation Program” to preserve the environment and protect property.  Wildfire mitigation often means using prescribed fire or a controlled burn to remove excess fuel from forested lands.

Since January of this year, the Alachua County Department of Public Safety Wildfire Mitigation Team and the land management staff of the Alachua County Forever Program have used prescribed fire on approximately 475 acres of County-owned land.  This area includes Alachua County Forever sites, County Parks, and the new Alachua County Fairgrounds and Resource Recovery Park site.  

“More prescribed fire means less wildfire.” said Jeff Bielling, Wildfire Mitigation Officer.    

Prescribed fire is the application of fire to wildland (vegetative) fuels as the environment and weather safely permits.   In addition to managing the fire, the Mitigation Team must be aware of  good smoke management, and the safety of personnel.  To keep people and place safe, they constantly monitor temperature, humidity, wind speed and direction, atmospheric stability, fuel moisture, season of the year and the condition of the site to be burned.

Most of the sites that are burned by the County have not had fire on them for many years or in some cases several decades. These heavily overgrown conditions not only makes these sites vulnerable to destructive wildfire, but can adversely affect the health of the forest (such as increased vulnerability to insect attack like the southern pine beetle). This also contributes to diminished habitat value. 

Chief Bailey, Director of the Department of Public Safety said, “Prescribed fire is the best fuel management and wildfire mitigation tool and generally, the most cost effective means of fuel management that we can employ in our woodlands, parks, and natural areas.”
Prescribed fire maintains the biodiversity and ecological quality of Florida’s woodlands and natural areas so that they function at the highest, healthiest level achievable.

Environmental benefits of prescribed fire include:

Florida plant communities (the associations of plants and animals that make up particular ecosystems like pine flatwoods, sand pine scrub, or sandhill) have evolved around and been shaped by fire and need fire to maintain themselves and thrive. 

For more information, contact Alachua County Wildfire Mitigation Chief, Jeff Bielling at 352-264-6584.

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Tree Planting at Newnan’s Lake

Alachua County planted trees and enhanced canal shore vegetation at the Newnan’s Lake Powers Park (5910 SE Hawthorne Road, Gainesville) as a kick-off celebration for Earth Week 2010. The event was on Friday, April 16, 2010 from 2 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., and was open to the public.

“This is a great opportunity to improve the shoreline of Newnan’s Lake, discuss with citizens why it is so important to protect natural resources in our county, work with kids and enjoy part of a Friday afternoon at the lake” says Stephen Hofstetter, Alachua County Environmental Protection Department’s (ACEPD) Natural Resources Program Manager.

Volunteers from the Gainesville Earth Scouts, local environmental clubs, youth groups, and nearby residents got hands-on experience with proper planting techniques while improving the canal’s shoreline to enhance fish habitat and provide shade for locals who enjoy fishing at this County park. All volunteers received free pizza and a small tree to plant in their own yards.

Informational displays from the Alachua County Natural Resources and Water Resources divisions provided valuable information to local residents on the benefits of maintaining a natural shoreline on their properties.

For more information about shoreline restoration, visit ACEPD’s website (click here to visit), or Current Problems Inc.’s website (click here to visit).

For more information or to volunteer for the event, contact Eliana Bardi or Stephen Hofstetter of ACEPD at 352-264-6800.

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County ITS Energy Savings

Alachua County invests in information technology to provide the data infrastructure necessary to support the multiple services County government’s departments and agencies provide to citizens. As local government and the community it serves becomes more reliant on technology, the demand for energy efficiency becomes even more important as we strive to design a sustainable information network. Energy costs will increase unless new technology is implemented with a resource saving strategy.

The solution that is being deployed by Alachua County Information and Telecom Services (ITS) is Virtualization. Virtualization is a process that allows the consolidation of computer resources in order to maximize the investment in computer hardware and minimize the computer power costs. Up to ten standard computer servers can be replaced by one virtualized server. Virtualized Servers are providing that opportunity for the County with improved performance at reduced energy costs through the VMWARE Server virtualization program. By utilizing less hardware, the need for electricity is reduced.

To date, approximately 40 servers have been consolidated under this program, saving an average 3,600 watts of energy per year.  Reducing the number of active computer servers also reduces air-conditioning needs by over half a ton.  These energy reduction measures are estimated to save over $5,000 annually in electricity costs. 

The Virtualized Servers also allow for more cost efficient programs to be implemented throughout the county departments. A new Electronic Time Reporting system is currently being piloted in four County Departments.  Graham Peel, ITS Project Manager says that, “Once this is in place, it eliminates paper documents for timekeeping including timesheets and leave requests.”  These documents are currently printed and stored in various office locations on the network.  A fully implemented paperless system will cut printing by 40,000+ documents per year.  Highlighting added benefits, “Eliminating paper storage, frees expensive office space and makes for faster government processes which will free up time for more citizen response tasks.” added Graham. 

Citizens are urged to save energy and utility bills with their own computer equipment.  Energy Star, the federal appliance efficiency programs reports that computers set to standby or hibernate may save $75 or more per computer.  Find out how much you can save by visiting the Energy Star Computer Power Management calculator here (Microsoft Excel needed).  

For more information about Alachua County’s Sustainability Programs, contact Alachua County Sustainability Program Manager, Sean McLendon at 352-548-3765.

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Cabot-Koppers Update

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) continues to provide local technical oversight of the investigation and clean-up actitivies associated with the Cabot-Kopppers Superfund site and provide local technical support to United State Environmental Protection Agency Region 4 (USEPA) through a Cooperative Assistance Grant.

Upcoming and recent major milestones for the site include:

The schedule and status of the Koppers Superfund process will be discussed at a joint City of Gainesville-Alachua County Commission Quarterly meeting scheduled for April 29, 2010, at 1 p.m., in the Jack Durrance Auditorium, room 209, County Administration Building (12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville).

Beazer East and USEPA are developing an expanded off-site soil sampling plan for the neighborhood west of the Koppers site to include residential properties. Offsite soil sampling is also planned to the south, east and north of the Koppers site. Sentinel wells are being installed north of the Koppers site to monitor groundwater off-site. ACEPD is also working with USEPA and the Cabot Corporation to address the remediation of tar deposits in Springstead and Hogtown Creeks.

ACEPD continues to perform field oversight of groundwater investigation and soil sampling activity at the site and respond to citizen inquiries for information. “USEPA’s process for selecting the remedy for the Koppers site is reaching a critical final phase in the next several months,” said Dr. John Mousa, ACEPD Pollution Prevention Manager. “ACEPD’s technical staff will continue to work cooperatively with the City of Gainesville, Gainesville Regional Utilities, the Alachua County Health Department and our local technical experts to review the final FS and Proposed Plan documents and provide input to USEPA to get a remedy that protects our local groundwater resources and minimizes impacts to surrounding neighborhoods.”

Click here for a library of project technical documents and reports concerning the Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site.

For more information about the Cabot-Koppers Superfund Site, contact John Mousa at 352-264-6805 or at jjm@alachuacounty.us.

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Water Conservation Initiative Report

Alachua County Environmental Protection staff have completed the final draft of the Water Conservation Initiative Report. The report will be posted on the Alachua County Website on April 27th. This staff report, requested by the Board of County Commissioners, provides a menu of opportunities to improve local water conservation efforts.

The report identifies opportunities for more effective local government roles in increasing water conservation such as land use and low impact development incentives. It confirms that effective water conservation requires cooperation, collaboration, and communication among citizens and all levels of government, business, and non-governmental organizations.

“This report outlines best and ‘next’ practices that can help our citizens reduce water consumption to better protect our creeks, lakes, springs, and water supply and to provide for a more resilient water future for Alachua County” said Chris Bird, Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Director.

During the past six months, in preparing the report, staff provided for public input by posting the draft chapters and receiving comments via the County’s website. Additional suggestions and comments were received from appointed citizen advisory committees including the County’s Environmental Protection Advisory Committee, the Economic Development Advisory Committee, and the Rural Concerns Advisory Committee.

The report will provide a basis for the Board of County Commissioners to provide new policy directions in terms of appropriate water conservation priorities and strategies for Alachua County.

To learn more about this local initiative and to download a copy of the draft report, visit www.alachuacountywater.us.

For more information, contact Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Water Resources Supervisor, Gus Olmos at 352-264-6806 or Gus@alachuacounty.us.

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Landscape Irrigation and Fertilizer Codes Update

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) has launched a new website to provide information on two recently adopted Codes by the County: the fertilizer application and the landscape irrigation codes.

“These new County Codes are important tools to help reduce impacts of residential and commercial landscapes on our local creeks, lakes, and springs” said Chris Bird, Director of the Environmental Protection Department.

The Fertilizer Standards and Management Practices Code provides standards for the timing of fertilizer application, training and licensing requirements, fertilizer application rates and fertilizer-free zones. The new County website contains information on the code requirements, links to upcoming training and a list of business that have completed the required training.

Click here for more information about the Fertilizer Standards and Management Practices Code.

The Irrigation Conservation Standards and Management Practices Code adopts the existing requirements of the St. John and Suwannee River Water Management Districts. Currently, landscape irrigation is allowed twice a week with no irrigation between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.

Click here for more information about the Irrigation Conservation Standards and Management Practices Code.

For more information, contact Gus Olmos, ACEPD Environmental Program Supervisor at 352-264-6806 or Gus@alachuacounty.us.


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CAPP Funds

The Alachua County Board of County Commissioners’ support of Community Agency Partnership Program (CAPP) funding is an example of promoting environmental, social justice and economic values in a sustainable manner.  This program works with the non-profit community to reduce poverty for Alachua County residents.  Within the program, there are specific funding categories and applicants must participate in pre-application training, fill out applications and make oral presentations in order to qualify for this yearly competitive opportunity. 

Among CAPP funded programs, includes partnerships with area nonprofits to help with weatherization and food growing projects that lower energy and grocery costs, and create a more sustainable community.

For more information on CAPP, click here.

CAPP funds help pay for weatherization and energy efficiency upgrades through a partnership with the North Central Florida Rebuilding Together Program.  Rebuilding Together is part of a nationwide effort to increase the efficiency and livability of low-income people’s homes.  The organization teaches residents how to live more energy efficiently and conducts home weatherization repairs and upgrades. This helps to reduce greenhouse gas emissions from fossil fuel production. 

Rebuilding Together is encouraging participation in National Rebuilding Day on April 24th, 2010. This event is a nationwide initiative to preserve affordable homeownership for low-income, elderly and disabled families. On this day, more than 8,000 homes and community centers throughout the country will undergo critical repairs by volunteers.  In Alachua County, 10 homes will be rebuilt with the participation of over 200 volunteers.  

Talking about National Rebuilding Day, Melisa Miller, Rebuilding Together Executive Director said, “Months of planning, evaluating, training, organizing and mobilizing of volunteers will culminate on April 24th. The purpose of this one incredible day is to improve the homes and lives of homeowners in need.”

For more information about Rebuilding Together, click here.

Since 2008, families, schools, neighborhoods and communities have been helped by CAPP funds through the Florida Organic Growers’ (FOG) Gainesville Initiative for Tasty Gardens (GIFT Gardens).  The planting of raised bed gardens teaches people self sufficiency, offers better access to nutritious foods and takes fewer resources from the natural environment.

FOG has provided gardens at 189 locations throughout the County.  The average resident with GIFT Gardens is provided a 96 sq ft. raised bed vegetable garden. The food savings and harvests from a well cared for raised bed can be substantial.

Gardens have been provided to:

Melissa Desa, FOG Project Coordinator related a recent comment from a teacher, “She said her students comments were priceless; ‘You can eat that stuff? I didn’t know we’d get to eat it. I’ve never eaten salad before.’”

For more information about the Florida Organic Growers, click here.


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Springs Protection

Alachua County Environmental Protection Department informs residents living in central or western Alachua County, that they live in a springshed for one of the springs on the Santa Fe River. A springshed is the area that contributes groundwater to a spring or group of springs. The western part of Alachua County is limestone covered with a thin layer of sand. Rainfall in this area of Alachua County soaks into the ground and recharges the Floridan aquifer, which supplies water to the springs on the Santa Fe River. This aquifer also supplies County drinking water.

“Our springs are windows to the Floridan Aquifer, and they are important indicators of the environmental condition of our local water resources. Their future depends on the water and land use choices our communities make today” said Chris Bird, Alachua County Environmental Protection Director.

Ways residents can help protect springs:

Collectively, these springs discharge hundreds of millions of gallons of water per day to the Santa Fe River. Conserving water and reducing pollutants protects the springs.

For more information about springs protection in Alachua County, contact Alachua County Environmental Protection Department Water Resources Supervisor, Gus Olmos at 352-264-6806 or gus@alachuacounty.us.

To learn more about protecting and improving springs, visit http://santaferiversprings.com/ and attend the Santa River Springs Basin Working Group meetings.


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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) has completed an updated inventory of Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Emissions for Alachua County Government operations for calendar year 2009. A summary of the inventory results will be presented to the Alachua County Board of County Commissioners at their regular meeting on Tuesday, April 13, 2010. This meeting is in the Jack Durrance Auditorium, on the second floor (room 209) of the County Administrative Building (12 SE 1st Street, Gainesville). The full report of GHG inventory results including data from calendar year 2008 will be available the week of April 19, 2010 on the Alachua County website. An updated GHG inventory for the local Alachua County community is in progress and is expected to be completed by June 2010.

To view the back-up presentation document for the Tuesday, April 13th Regular Board of County Commission meeting, click here.

In 1999, Alachua County made a commitment to join the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) USA Local Governments for Sustainability Cities for Climate Protection Campaign. As part of this commitment, Alachua County established goals for monitoring and reducing GHG emissions. The County has implemented various programs to reduce energy consumptions in County buildings and reduce fuel consumption in County vehicle fleet operations. The new 2009 inventory will be used as a tool to evaluate Alachua County’s progress toward meeting its GHG reduction goal.

Increases in the levels of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in the atmosphere has raised national and international concern about their impact on global climate change. The US Environmental Protection Agency has recently declared GHG including carbon dioxide as pollutants that will require regulation.

“It is becoming increasingly important to track progress toward reducing GHG emissions at both the local government and community scale.” said Chris Bird, County Environmental Protection Director. “I want to recognize the EPD Pollution Prevention staffs hard work and attention detail in gathering and updating energy usage data from the hundreds of County utility and vehicle fleet records in order to complete this critical inventory.”

For more information on the 2009 GHG Inventory, contact John Mousa, ACEPD Pollution Prevention Manager at 352-264-6805 or at jjm@alachuacounty.us.


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Chestnut Park and Butler Nature Preserve Ribbon Cutting

The public is invited to attend the ribbon cutting of Alachua County’s Cynthia Moore Chestnut Park and Clark Butler Nature Preserve on Tuesday, April 27, 2010 at 2 p.m. at the Park/Nature Preserve (2315 SE 35th Street, Gainesville).  Refreshments will be provided.

“I am moved beyond words by the gratitude expressed by park visitors and their families with the addition of the park to this neighborhood,” Alachua County Commission Chair Cynthia Moore Chestnut said in speaking of the park.  “My special thanks to my colleagues, the Butler family, the many contributors, and the citizens who stepped forward with the naming request.”

Funding for the project came from a $250,000 donation from Mr. Butler, $696,500 from Alachua County, and two state grants totaling $400,000 for a total cost of $1,346,500.

Click here to view the Recognition of Contributions list for this project.

For more information, contact Rob Avery, Parks/Open Space Superintendent at 352-374-5245 ext. 247.


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Petroleum Clean-up

The Alachua County Environmental Protection Department (ACEPD) oversees major clean-up projects to remove or treat contaminated soils and groundwater at petroleum contaminated sites in Alachua County. ACEPD also conducts a rigorous storage tank compliance inspection program to prevent contamination of our local groundwater and soils from petroleum discharges from current fuel storage facilities. ACEPD has been under contract with the Florida Department of Environmental Protection (FDEP) for the past 20 years to provide petroleum clean-up management and storage tanks compliance inspections.

The ACEPD Petroleum Clean-up program currently provides technical and budgetary oversight at over 60 high priority contaminated sites in the County to insure that work is performed in an efficient and expedited manner according to FDEP specifications. Over 200 formerly contaminated petroleum sites in the County have been remediated over the last 20 years. ACEPD’s Tank Compliance inspectors have recently verified that all regulated fuel storage tank systems in Alachua County are in compliance with a State mandate to upgrade their systems to double wall systems. To date more than 98% of the facilities have already upgraded their tanks and the few that remain will be complying with this mandate through a consent order with the state. The Storage Tank Section performs over 350 inspections at regulated facilities each year.

A major clean-up and soil removal project is currently on-going at the Poole Roofing portion of the City of Gainesville’s Depot Park clean-up project off of SW Depot Road and S. Main Street. The estimated amount of soil to be excavated from the Poole Roofing portion of the Depot Park remediation site is approximately 30,000 tons and for the entire Depot Park project well over 100,000 tons. As many as 50 truckloads of soil are removed from the site on a given day. ACEPD monitors FDEP’s estimated cost share for the Poole Roofing cleanup which is more than $3 Million.

“Our successful Petroleum Clean-up and Storage Tank Compliance contracts and partnership with FDEP have provided the local technical emphasis and oversight necessary to address the unique characteristics of contamination in Alachua County and has allowed contaminated sites to be cleaned up faster.” said John Mousa, ACEPD Pollution Prevention Manager, “The Storage Tanks compliance program is vital to preventing any continued contamination of our local environmental resources from underground storage tanks.”

Click here to view ACEPD’s Petroleum Cleanup Program website.

For more information regarding ACEPD’s Petroleum Management Program, contact Alachua County Petroleum Contracts Manager, Tim Ramsey at 352-264-6843 or thr@alachuacounty.us.


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Alachua County Advisory Boards

The Alachua County Commission is committed to citizen involvement on its advisory boards and is soliciting applications for the following vacancies:

Get Involved - Click here for an application: http://www.alachuacounty.us/government/bocc/advisoryboard.aspx

Applications are also available at the County Manager’s Office on the Second Floor of the County Administration Building, 12 SE 1st St., Gainesville. For more information, call (352) 264-6904.

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Thank you for your continued interest in County Government!

Community Update is produced by the County Manager's Communications Office.