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Awards, Water, and Waste in Claremont

Much is happening in Claremont!

Water: In November, Council Member Naisali suggested forming a committee to discuss Claremont-related water issues. Ben Lewis, our District Manager for Golden State Water Company (GSWC), set up a committee “to discuss proposed/ongoing water projects, statewide water issues, and local water issues with the objective of building a collaborative relationship”. It met last week and included Mayor Sam Pedroza, City Manager Tony Ramos and about half-a-dozen invited customers from the business sector, community groups, and the city. GSWC, represented in part by a public relations firm, presented a slide show reviewing where our water comes from, how much has been used in recent years, and investments the company has made. There was not much new to those who have been following local water issues, which was disappointing. A frank discussion followed with many questions and few answers, about water monopolies and the importance of local control, rates and why they are so high, the regional rate system, and conservation-related surcharges. There was little on collaboration. The group emphasized the need for meaningful dialogue when we meet again, with answers to the questions that were posed. The next meeting has not yet been scheduled. Stay tuned.

There has also been a very positive water-related development. Richard Haskell and Sustainable Claremont’s Water Action Group have proposed a water reclamation facility for the Claremont Colleges that would convert sewage into disinfected tertiary-treated water for irrigation of the campus grounds. The concept was developed by experts in the field who volunteered their time, and in more detail by Harvey Mudd College Intern Dustin Zubke who was supported by the HMC Center for Environmental Studies. This month the Council of Presidents approved going forward with a professional engineering study. The California Water Foundation provided a letter of interest to cover up to $125,000 for half the cost of the study, and the Foundation is considering additional funding for the 500,000 gpd project. The system will use innovative technology that requires relatively little space, and will replace about 5% of the potable water used in Claremont. This project is seen as a model for a future city-wide water reclamation system in Claremont.

Award: On another very positive note, the City of Claremont has been recognized for its sustainability efforts by “California Green Communities”, an environmental program that encourages cities to adopt environmentally sound practices. Claremont is one of just four cities to achieve “Silver” status as a “California Green Community”. To receive this recognition a city must develop and execute a program in each of ten best practice areas. Efforts included: making energy efficiency and water conservation improvements to City facilities, converting the City fleet to cleaner fuels, encouraging bicycling and walking, encouraging water-wise landscaping and local gardening efforts, installing solar panels at the City yards, and CHERP (the Claremont Home Energy Retrofit Project). Sustainable Claremont has also been the most successful “Energy Champion” in the Los Angeles county program to promote home energy retrofits. The Green Community Award was presented to the Claremont City Council at the Claremont Chamber of Commerce “State of the City Luncheon” in January.

Waste: The City is considering how it will handle solid waste in the future. As part of an ongoing study, a team of 5 students in the Environmental Analysis Program at Pomona College is working with City staff and community members to research options for increasing diversion of solid waste in the City from landfills. Options being considered are focused on foodscrap diversion including composting and possibly anaerobic digestion. Nearly 30 percent of landfill content is from scraps, a resource that should be recycled to our natural environment. Let us know if you would like to be a part of this or any other Sustainable Claremont project.

A planet is a terrible thing to waste! The next Sustainability Dialog ties in to the problems of managing the amount of waste our society produces. Reducing it at the source is an effective way that businesses can help, and we can encourage them to do so. The Dialog will feature Susan Collins on "Product Stewardship: Working Together to Minimize Waste". This will describe how producers, cities and consumers are working together to reduce solid waste through Extended Producer Responsibility and what we can do in Claremont and the San Gabriel Valley. We hope to see you there! Monday, March 5, 7:00 - 8:30 p.m., Hahn Building, Rm. 101, 420 N. Harvard Ave.

Finally, our Earth Day celebration will be on April 21. If you would like to have a booth or to be a sponsor, please let us know. You can print the forms from the SC website.

By Freeman Allen
Demystifying Sustainability is a project of Sustainable Claremont (