Environment

Energetic kids learn about renewable energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   As the young girl pedaled the bicycle, her efforts first turned on the radio. As she pedaled harder, she created enough energy to turn on LED light bulbs. And if she pedaled really hard, she turned on the old-fashioned light bulbs. Pretty sneaky way to teach kids about energy. “You’re pretty strong,” Daryl Stockburger, assistant director of Bowling Green Public Utilities, told the young girl. “When you use these light bulbs, you’re making the electric company work really hard,” Stockburger said of the older bulbs. “Tell your parents to use LED bulbs.” Stockburger was talking about Bowling Green’s energy efforts recently to a group of kids gatherered at Wood County District Public Library. He talked about the new solar field, the wind turbines and hydropower. Stockburger, who is more accustomed to talking energy with adults, did his best to bring the discussion down to the level of the children. He was helped out by Maria Simon, head of youth services at the library, who is more accustomed to taking technical topics and making them understandable to young minds. Simon was the Gracie Allen to Stockburger’s George Burns. “She’s generating 5 amps,” Stockburger said as another girl tried pedaling the energy bike hooked up to appliances. “I think she should come to my house. I think she could run the dishwasher,” Simon said. The program was part of the library’s summer children’s program on Building a Better World. The children provided a challenging range, with one crawling around tracing the shapes on the floor, to another asking about geothermal energy. Stockburger talked about…

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Sugar Ridge still under EPA orders to get sewers

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For a decade now, the community of Sugar Ridge has been on the Ohio EPA’s clean up list. In 2007, the Wood County Health District got a report of a sewage nuisance in the unincorporated village located north of Bowling Green. The EPA took over sampling and “deemed it a sewage nuisance,” said Lana Glore, director of environmental services at the Wood County Health District. The area was ordered to connect to a public sewer system. But that proved to be easier said than done. The Northwestern Water and Sewer District conducted a feasibility study to find out how to make it affordable to hook up the homes to public sewer. “They found it was very costly to build the sewer” – too expensive for the average homeowners in Sugar Ridge, Glore said last week. The project recently came onto the health district’s radar again when a concerned citizen reported that a resident of the Sugar Ridge area was trying to install a new sewer without approval, on Long Street. Upon inspection, Glore found that the resident was actually trying to fix a drainage system. She also found serious ground water drainage issues that could be affecting the septic systems. Residents in the area were advised to pump their septic tanks more often and lessen their water usage if possible. Worsening the situations is a plugged ditch along Sugar Ridge Road. Middleton Township officials are looking at how that ditch may be cleaned to allow for proper drainage, Glore said. The bad news is the septic systems are not sufficiently handling the…


Geologists agree more data needed on Nexus pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The probability of a local catastrophe with the proposed Nexus pipeline is quite low – but the magnitude of the damage it could cause is quite high. And Nexus engineering and geological data have failed to instill a lot of confidence with local officials. A panel of geology experts answered questions Monday from Bowling Green officials concerned about the close proximity of the proposed 36-inch natural gas pipeline to the city’s water treatment plant and water intake on the Maumee River. The geologists all agreed on one point – more study is needed before the pipeline is buried near a fault line and under the river. The panel consisted of Dr. Charles Onasch, retired professor emeritus of geology at BGSU; Dr. Andrew Kear, assistant professor of political science and environment and sustainability at BGSU; Mark Baranoski, retired geologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; and Stephen Champa, a senior hydrogeologist for Eagon & Associates. Steve Kendall, from WBGU and host of the Northwest Ohio Journal, acted as moderator. Though the council chambers was full, the bulk of the questions were asked only by Kendall. The panel discussion was arranged by Mayor Dick Edwards after City Council kept hearing a wide variety of answers to basic questions about the pipeline risks. Edwards hoped the panel could focus on the science – not propaganda from pipeline protesters or the pipeline company. But the geologists, to varying degrees, said more data is needed before science can give a stamp of approval to the pipeline. Council President Mike Aspacher asked if the pipeline poses a…


Children urged to honor Earth Day all year long

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   “Bob” the crayfish was a big hit at the eighth annual Earth Day Community Celebration on Sunday. But it was his bigger buddy “Chompers” with very active pinchers that drew shrieks from the young children. “You can touch a Maumee River crayfish and go tell your friends,” tempted Christina Kuchle, of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. The annual Earth Day event on the open field next to the Montessori School in Bowling Green was focused on fun – with the hope that children and their parents would go home knowing a bit more about how to protect the environment. “It kind of ties everything together,” said Amanda Gamby, of the Wood County Solid Waste Management District. “It brings us all together for one last hurrah. It drives home the Earth Day, Every Day message.” At one booth, Jamie Sands of the Wood County Park District was pushing the message that bees are not bad. Though much maligned creatures, they are very important to humans, she said. “Ninety-five percent of what we eat is possible because of pollinators,” Sands said. “We love bees. Yeaaaaa bees.” Next to the booth, children were trying to “pollinate” towering flowers by throwing balls into the centers of the posies. “We want them to know the importance of pollinators and the importance of pollination,” Sands said. And in the process, maybe parents were learning a bit, too. Instead of spraying to kill bee hives, Sands suggested a phone call instead. “There are agencies they can call to move the nests,” she said. “We need bees.” The Bowling…


Wood County landfill filling up faster than expected

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Wood County’s landfill continues to be filling up faster than expected. When 2016 rolled around, it looked as if the existing permitted space at the landfill would last another 11 years. By last summer, that remaining lifespan had shortened to eight to 10 years. And by Tuesday, that time had shrunk to six or seven years. The news was presented to the county commissioners on Tuesday by landfill staff and consultants. Since it takes a few years for any landfill expansion to be approved by the Ohio EPA, work is being done now to get the process going. The entire landfill area is close to 300 acres. Of that, 45 acres are permitted right now for use. It’s that space that has six or seven years left. The requested expansion will be for 65 acres to the north of the current area being used. The first phase of the proposed expansion would “piggyback” on top of a section already being used. The landfill is allowed to reach a height just over 100 feet. Bill Petruzzi, of Hull and Associates consulting firm, said a place to put trash is a treasure. “Wood County has continued to provide such a good service to the community,” Petruzzi told the county commissioners on Tuesday. In the last three decades, the number of licensed landfills in Ohio has dropped from 197 to 37, he said. Of those, more than half are private. “All along, Wood County has always done the right thing,” Petruzzi said. “You provide a needed service at a low price.” The county landfill has…


Solar site puts BG on the map for green energy

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green is now second only to Oberlin in Ohio for the percentage of renewable power in its energy portfolio. As if on cue, the rain stopped and the sun came out for the dedication of the new Bowling Green solar field on Thursday afternoon. The 165-acre solar field, which started producing power earlier this year, is the largest solar site in Ohio. And with a portion of the solar field’s product coming to Bowling Green, the city can now boast the second highest percentage of renewable energy in the state. “I applaud Bowling Green for its forward thinking,” said Pam Sullivan, executive vice president of American Municipal Power. The solar field, near the corner of Carter and Newton roads northeast of Bowling Green, has 85,000 solar panels that soak up the sun to generate power. The panels rotate with the sun so they can create more energy. On sunny days, the site can peak at 20 megawatts. The portion going to Bowling Green will supply 5 percent of the city’s energy needs. The addition of the solar field means approximately 40 percent of the city’s energy portfolio is now renewable. “Everyone from Bowling Green should be very proud of that statistic,” Sullivan said. The city earned the nickname “Blowing” Green when it had wind turbines installed, Sullivan said. Now it has truly earned the “Green” portion of its name, she added. It’s been a long journey for the city to go so green, said Brian O’Connell, public utilities director for the city. It started in 1999, when the city first purchased…


Pipeline panel set to answer questions from BG

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   For months now, Bowling Green officials have listened to opposing sides of the Nexus pipeline. Mayor Dick Edwards has been particularly frustrated by the conflicting “science” being presented on both sides of the issue. So in an effort to find the facts about the potential risk of the pipeline on Bowling Green’s water treatment plant, the mayor is bringing together a panel of experts on the topic. The panel discussion on the natural gas pipeline and its potential impact on the city’s water source will be held May 8, beginning at 4 p.m., in the council chamber, 304 N. Church St. The discussion will not focus on whether or not the pipeline should be constructed, but whether it poses risks to the city’s water treatment plant, Edwards said. “I want to really focus in on the water treatment plant and the geology,” the mayor said. Edwards is also hoping that any concerns that need to be thoroughly explored are identified during the panel discussion, so the city can notify the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission of the issues. “I’m not naïve that a lot of people are concerned about pipelines in general,” the mayor said. But the panel discussion will focus on the proximity of the pipeline to the water plant. The panel will consist of Dr. Charles Onasch, retired professor emeritus of geology at BGSU; Dr. Andrew Kear, assistant professor of political science and environment and sustainability at BGSU; Mark Baranoski, retired geologist with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources; and Stephen Champa, a senior hygrologist for Eagon & Associates. Steve Kendall,…