Thursday, February 2, 2012

Pacific Institute's WeTap for ditching bottled water and finding the nearest water fountain

I had the opportunity to meet with Peter Gleick of the Pacific Institute last week.  They're doing some really interesting things with water and climate change, and they vigorously oppose the wastefulness of bottled water.

And they've done something about it, creating the WeTap smartphone application for Android phones, letting people know where the nearest water fountain is located, and ultimately letting them input new fountains, as well as providing feedback if a fountain needs repair.

These video links don't always work, but I talked about it yesterday:
Get Microsoft Silverlight

(If you can't view the video, click here, then click on the January 31, 2012 meeting video, and in the pop-up window advance to 04:47:00 time frame.)

I believe the crowd-sourced, added content feature isn't yet available, but that's part of future plans.  Santa Clara Valley Water District itself encourages drinking our water and discourages the wasteful practice of bottled water, which we've banned from our cafeteria and our events.  WeTap is an excellent tool to help people make use of their water.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Update on potential Safe Clean Water ballot measure

First of all, a somewhat-belated Happy New Year to everyone, and hopes for a healthy, safe, prosperous, well-watered, unflooded, and environmentally-restored 2012.

The Water District continues to research a special tax ballot measure that could happen in November this year, replacing an existing special tax that will expire in a few years.  The Safe Clean Water website has general information on the process and ideas.

I wrote two memos on this subject that I'll link to below, focusing on a few areas where I think the measure might want to go in a somewhat different direction than what's been proposed.  Yesterday, the Board discussed my ideas and others.  I think the feedback is fairly clear for interest in significantly expanding the Southbay Shoreline protection funding, which will both protect against tidal flooding and help restore thousands of acres of wetlands.  Spending on boat vessel inspections will also likely be dropped from the measure - it's not that it shouldn't be done, but the question is whether the public or boat owners should pay the bill, and that needs a lot more discussion.

I also pushed on transferring money within the "environmental" category from mitigation of flood control projects to projects with an actual environmental benefit.  The reaction of the other directors was less clear on this issue.  I think it will be up to the public and those other directors to continue to provide feedback on this and any other issue as staff reworks the proposal.  Sometime in March they hope to have a proposal that is close to a final version, leaving several months to determine whether the proposal is likely to work.  The District Board will have to decide in July whether to put the measure on the ballot for November.

The agenda item is here, just click on the January 31, 2012 link at the left, and then scroll to Item 6.1. My two memos are linked on the left.