Environment

BG challenged to do more recycling and composting

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green City Council has been urged to think “outside the landfill” as a way to save the city money. Neocles Leontis, a Bowling Green State University chemistry professor, suggested last week during a council meeting that the city could reduce its general fund shortfall by thinking creatively about waste generated in the city. He spoke when council asked for public input as they debated options to shore up the city’s general fund after a series of funding cuts from the state. Council members agreed the best option for raising $800,000 a year would be to start charging a fee for trash pickup. Leontis urged them to be more creative in their thinking about garbage. After meeting with Bowling Green Public Works Director Brian Craft about garbage statistics for the city, Leontis reported the city collects about 5,600 tons of garbage a year. Of that amount, about 12 percent is recycled – so about 5,000 tons end up being landfilled. The landfill charges $39.30 a ton, so the city is currently saving about $25,000 a year through recycling. Leontis suggested the city could do better – much better. While the city improved its recycling rate a few years ago after investing in the larger blue recycling containers, the 12 percent recycling rate is relatively low, he said. The average national recycling rate is about 35 percent, Leontis told council. If Bowling Green were to increase its rate to the national average, the city could save an additional $50,000 in landfill costs. But why stop there, he asked. “Why be average?” He presented…


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…


Arctic Refuge should remain off limits for oil drilling

To the editor: I appreciated Jan Larson McLaughlin’s article, “BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement.” I think it’s important for communities and decision makers to be considering all sides of an issue before jumping straight into it, especially when it comes to issues as important as our environment. It seems that some of our nation’s leaders have stopped doing just that. President Trump’s budget proposal threatens to open up the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling. This 19-million-acre tract of pristine wild lands is home to millions of animals, and is threatened by these commercial endeavors. As a federal land, it is the property of all Americans, and we have a right to be able to make decisions on it. If we allow them to go into the last frontier that we have, then we risk opening up places here in Ohio to this same development. We need to tell our senators, like Senator Portman, to protect our public lands. Bill Murray Weston


BG mayor joins Climate Mayors organization

Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards has signed on to join the Climate Mayors organization which is made up of mayors across the nation who support climate change efforts. At Monday’s City Council meeting, Edwards said he was investigating joining the group, and later this week he signed on. Following is the story previously printed on the organization. BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement


BG Council debates further fight against pipeline

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   At least two Bowling Green City Council members are interested in taking the Nexus pipeline fight further. Council has already rejected an easement to allow the pipeline to cross city-owned land within miles of the city’s water treatment plant. The city held a panel discussion with four geologists addressing their concerns about the pipeline. And the mayor has written several letters identifying concerns to FERC, federal and state legislators, and the pipeline. But on Monday, council member John Zanfardino suggested that the city look into filing a motion to intervene on the project with the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. “I know there are questions of cost,” Zanfardino said. But the costs may be worth it to ensure safe drinking water, he said. Zanfardino referred to one of the panelist’s concerns that the environmental statement for the pipeline did not even mention several risks. “This seems to give us a legal leg to stand on,” if something happens, Zanfardino said of the motion to intervene. Though one of the panelists said the cost to file a motion to intervene would be “negligible,” the city’s legal counsel thinks otherwise, especially if it leads to greater litigation and expense.  So Zanfardino suggested some exploration should be done. “We’re running out of time,” he said. FERC tends to rubber-stamp pipeline projects even in the best of times, Zanfardino said. “And we’re not in the best of times.” Council member Daniel Gordon agreed. “There is a real sense of urgency here,” he said. “We can’t put a price tag on our water supply here in Northwest Ohio.”…


BG mayor may join ‘Climate Mayors’ national movement

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   Bowling Green Mayor Dick Edwards is bucking President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement on climate control. During Monday’s City Council meeting, Edwards said he is investigating joining the Climate Mayors national movement. “Several residents have been in touch with me about the possibility of joining with mayors throughout the country in combating climate change and in preparing for global warming,” Edwards said. “The intensifying of the environmental movement among mayors is proceeding on a bi-partisan basis in partial response to some of the proclamations emanating in recent days from Washington,” the mayor said. Edward’s statement earned him an emotional thank you from council member Sandy Rowland, and applause in the council chamber from citizens and council members. The mayor mentioned a recent NPR interview he heard featuring the mayor of Carmel, Indiana. That city, like Bowling Green, has no risk of the global warming risk from rising ocean waters. But the Carmel mayor also believes in the need for climate control efforts. “Mayor (Jim) Brainard’s comments about Carmel could well have been said about Bowling Green and our efforts to be on the leading edge of environmental sustainability,” Edwards said. Both mayors are Republicans and are bucking the trend of some in their party. In the NPR interview, Brainard talked about why his community in Indiana cares about climate change. “We see ourselves as a part of the country and the world. And we realize if there’s that sort of displacement, we’re at risk for all sorts of bad things,” Brainard said. “There’s also the frequency and intensity…


Pemberville teen Isaac Douglass headed to Sumatra to commune with orangutans

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News The fantastic worlds of Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and others fictional heroes weren’t enough for the Isaac Douglass. “I used to read a lot of fantasy books,” Douglass, 14, said. “I enjoyed having little adventures, and I wanted it to happen in real life.” Two years ago the Pemberville teen returned from a Winter Jam concert with a brochure and an idea. He wanted to take a 30-day trip to Australia. His parents, Shawn and Maria Douglass, weren’t ready for that, but as people who traveled themselves when they were young, they wanted their son to have the same opportunity. “We want him to see the world as much bigger than the microcosm of Wood County,” his father said. They found a shorter trip. So at 12 he ventured to Costa Rica where he helped build a road to a farm and painted the house the farmers lived in, and swam and hiked. That’s what he did at 12, now at 14, Isaac is ready to venture further, to Sumatra and Bali. Like the trip to Costa Rica, this trip, offered by ARCC Programs, is both a service trip and a recreational venture. The largest part of the 18-day trip will be working to restore orangutan habitat in Sumatra. The orangutan is the most endangered primate in the world, Shawn Douglass said. Afterward the teens will venture to Bali for some surfing. Isaac will be leaving in late June. Originally the family had looked at the trip, but decided it was financially prohibitive. Then the price was cut because they needed more teenage boys….


BGSU researchers find virus may have been accomplice in Toledo water crisis

By BGSU OFFICE OF MARKETING & COMMUNICATIONS In August 2014, toxins from algal blooms in Lake Erie shut down the city of Toledo, Ohio’s water supply, leaving half a million residents without potable water for more than two days. A new study co-authored by Bowling Green State University researchers shows that a virus may have been involved in the crisis and suggests methods for more stringent monitoring of water supplies. Michael McKay, Ryan Professor of Biology, and George Bullerjahn, Professor of Research Excellence, both at BGSU, worked with a team of 25 researchers to examine the physiological traits of Microcystis, the cyanobacterial organism responsible for scum-like algal blooms in Lake Erie. They found that it was consistent with algal blooms from 2012 and 2013 except for one thing – the Microcystis cells had a viral infection. Typically, toxins from algal blooms are trapped within the cell until the cell dies. But virus infections can cause cells to break open, leaking the toxin into the water and subsequently into water facility intake pipes and treatment centers. The viruses analyzed in this study infect only bacteria and do not infect humans. “The study changes the way we think about how the toxin moves around aquatic systems and gets into water supplies,” said Steven Wilhelm, Mossman Professor of Microbiology at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, who led the study. “It may help us understand how these organisms persist in nature.” The study was published recently in the journal Environmental Science and Technology. Co-authors included Wilhelm and his team from the University of Tennessee; Tim Davis of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Great…


Lupines turn park meadow into colorful mosaic

By JAN LARSON McLAUGHLIN BG Independent News   The Bordner Meadow in Wintergarden Park is putting on a show right now with no admission fee charged. The periwinkle lupines have taken over sections, giving bursts of color to the meadow. But the show will only be in town for a few more days, when the lupine blooming season comes to an end. “They are quite prolific,” Cinda Stutzman, natural resources specialist with the Bowling Green Parks and Recreation Department, said about the colorful meadow. “It does put on a very nice show in the month of May,” Stutzman said. People come out to the park just to take in the meadow mosaic of the floral spikes. But the lupines haven’t always had a prominent place in the park. There was a time about 20 years ago when no lupines were left in the Bowling Green area. The flower that was once a signature plant in the Oak Openings area had nearly disappeared from the region. “It was a potentially threatened plant in Ohio,” Stutzman said. Lupines are pretty particular about where they take root. “It’s picky in that it likes sand and sun,” Stutzman explained. That combination made the Bordner Meadow a perfect home for the lupines since the area has sand ridges left after glaciers receded from the area. So 17 or 18 years ago, the lupines were reintroduced to the meadow as part of a Bowling Green State University project. A total of 500 lupines were transplanted to the park. The lupines took over from there. “From there it hasn’t taken much for the plants to spread,” Stutzman…


ReStore sale turns students’ discarded goods into bargains

By DAVID DUPONT BG Independent News Several dozen people waited in line Tuesday morning to get the first chance to buy the thousands of items Bowling Green State University students have left behind. Tuesday was the first of the two-day reStore Thrift sale open to BGSU students, staff and faculty. The goods—from appliances to underwear (freshly laundered) – was accumulated through the Office of Sustainability’s When You Move Out, Don’t Throw It Out. Now the fridges, microwave ovens, TVs, fans, sweatshirts, unopened boxes of tissues, mirrors, stack of Solo cups and more that would have been destined for the landfill, is now being carried out the door by new owners, pleased with the great deals they’ve gotten. And there’s more to sell than ever before, said Nick Hennessey, the BGSU sustainability coordinator. This is the third year of the sale, and the 16th for the When You Move Out, Don’t Throw Out program. This year, he said, they had more of everything, except for devices such as alarm clocks and calculators “that have been obviated by the use of cell phones.” In each of the past two years, the sale has brought in about $3,000. Hennessey said the sale made that much just on Tuesday. The money goes to promote sustainability efforts on campus. It will be open Wednesday again from 9 a.m. to 4p.m. “with deals all day,” he promised. The sale is just part of how the goods collected at the end of the year are distributed. Non-profits including the Cocoon come in ahead of the sale to pick up items they may need. About a half-dozen food…


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…