What Goes Where: Recycle & Compost List

Why recycle & compost? If you don’t sort your trash, we all pay. The costs are part of our coupon. If your entry needs a large landfill container because recyclable items aren’t separated, you waste $500 to $1000 a year. It will increase. By 2020, the State of California will require all trash companies to divert 75% of the waste they haul – or they face huge fines which will be passed on to us.

How you can help… If you’re like many Rossmoor residents, you want to put trash in correct containers but, at times, you’re unclear about what goes where. Here are answers to questions Rossmoor residents have asked:

AEROSOL CANS & PROPANE CYLINDERS. They are flammable, even when empty. See HAZARDOUS WASTE below.

APPLIANCES. See HAZARDOUS WASTE. Rapid Recycle, (925) 671-8088, will remove for a fee.

MATTRESSES & BOX SPRINGS: Bay Area Recycle, (925-465-5576), will remove for a fee.

BATTERIES. Small batteries go in box just inside Gateway entrance. See HAZARDOUS WASTE.

BOOKS. Put paperback and hardback books, phone books, and spiral notebooks in RECYCLE (container or bin with blue lid). Give books, books-on-tape and DVDs in good condition to a local library or thrift store.

BOTTLES, CARTONS & CANS. Remove lids before putting in RECYCLE. Make sure bottles, cartons and cans are dry. If necessary, invert and air-dry.

CAPS, LIDS & PULL TABS. Metal lids go in RECYCLE. Flip-top tabs (e.g., from aluminum cans), plastic lids, rings and caps go in LANDFILL (container or bin with black lid).

CARDBOARD BOXES. Breakdown and flatten so they fit in RECYCLE. If a box is big or hard to break down or if you have several boxes, take up to MOD Corporation Yard/Dumpster Site. Leave room for your neighbors!

CELLOPHANE. Cellophane bags and wrap go in LANDFILL. Envelopes with cellophane windows go in RECYCLE. (Cellophane crinkles.)

CONSTRUCTION DEBRIS. Residents can bring recyclable debris to MOD. If you see construction debris being dumped in a trash enclosure, immediately email alterations@rossmoor.com with as much information as possible. If Mutual Operations is closed, call Securitas, (925) 988-7899.

DIRT. MOD accepts dirt if it’s in a pot or bag.

DVD & CD DISCS. Recent DVDs and CD discs go in LANDFILL. Discs older than 20 years often contain toxic chemicals and should NOT go in landfill. BEST BUY will accept them. Cut discs with personal data in half. Do NOT try to break in half – they splinter.


FOOD WASTE. If you don’t have COMPOST (green container), put compostable trash in LANDFILL. Food scraps (raw and cooked); bones; corks; flowers, plant trimmings; leaves; tissue paper; paper plates, towels, napkins, other soiled paper; and pizza boxes go in COMPOST. Loose waste is preferred, but food scraps in a paper bag, newspaper or compostable bag are OK. (Biodegradable bags are NOT!) To keep container from getting grody, put newspapers or dry leaves at bottom before adding food waste.


GIVE IT AWAY. Here are some options: — WALNUT CREEK FREECYCLE is a resource for giving stuff to others rather than throwing it away: https://www.freecycle.org — LEFTOVERS THRIFT SHOP, a non-profit thrift store at 2281 Olympic Blvd, Walnut Creek, accepts secondhand clothing, housewares and collectibles. — GOODWILL, 2536 N Main St, Walnut Creek, accepts pre-owned clothing, furniture, housewares.

HAZARDOUS WASTE. Aerosols & propane cylinders; ammunition; anything with an electric cord (small appliances and lamps); automotive products (used motor oil, antifreeze); batteries; electronics (TVs, computers, DVD player, cell phones); paint (all types); fluorescent light bulbs (straight or coiled); pesticides and household cleaners; thermometers and other products with mercury can be picked up by AT YOUR DOOR, http://wmatyourdoor.com or 1-800449-7587. If the scheduler balks at picking up small appliances, assert the pickup is in Walnut Creek.

ITEMS LEFT OUTSIDE CONTAINERS. Your mutual is billed extra if trash containers are overflowing or if items like furniture or folded boxes are left outside containers. This increases your monthly coupon.

LIGHT BULBS. Standard, LED and halogen light bulbs go into LANDFILL. Fluorescent light bulbs (straight or coiled) are HAZARDOUS WASTE.

MATTRESSES & BOX SPRINGS: Bay Area Recycle, (925) 465-5576, will remove for a fee.

MEDICAL EQUIPMENT. John Muir Clinic, Goodwill and others accept everything from hospital beds to walking canes. RACORSE NETWORK in Oakland, (510) 251-2273 both accepts and gives them to the uninsured, disadvantaged, ill and elderly.

MEDICATIONS & NEEDLES (SHARPS). Sharps, which go in RED BOX, must be in a hard container (not a soft, plastic baggie). Keep medications in their original container (but mark out personal information), put in a sealable plastic bag, then put in BEIGE BOX in the lobby at Gateway. (Keep lids on tubes. Put medication patches in a baggie or the original box.)

OVERFLOWING CONTAINERS: Your mutual is billed extra if trash bins are overflowing. Having the lid up makes it easier for raccoons to get in and leave a trail of trash. Plus raccoon pee stinks! If your entry’s container is overflowing and needs an extra pickup, call Mary Ann at MOD, (925) 988-7650. (A fee is charged for extra LANDFILL service.) If RECYCLE containers are often overflowing, your mutual director can order twice a week pickup for free.

PACKING MATERIAL. See PLASTIC BAGS for instructions on bubble wrap and air pillows. Bag the peanuts. Put Styrofoam and other packing material in LANDFILL. Or bring clean packing material to the UPS Store at Rossmoor Shopping Center.
PAPER. Cash register receipts, metallic paper and carbon paper go into LANDFILL. Paper napkins, towels, plates, cups, “to go” cardboard boxes and tissue paper go in COMPOST. Shredded paper in a paper or see-thru plastic bag, other clean paper and Post-its go in RECYCLE.

PLASTIC. Soft plastic goes in LANDFILL. All hard plastic (with or without numbers) goes in RECYCLE. Items must be EMPTY and DRY, not perfectly clean, just dry. Plastic cannot be bonded to metal or paper (NO bubble-padded mailers). Republic Services wants all RECYCLE items to be loose (not inside a paper or plastic bag) – except for the bags of plastic bags or shredded paper.

PLASTIC BAGS. Bag the bags! Put clean, dry, plastic bags; plastic wrap; popped bubble wrap; and popped plastic air pillows in a plastic bag. You don’t need to remove paper labels. Before putting in RECYCLE, knot the top of the plastic bag to form a plastic “pillow.”

PRINTER INK CARTRIDGES. Drop off at the Computer Center in Gateway Complex.

SELL IT. You can sell stuff on CRAIGSLIST or use HOME CONSIGNMENT CENTER, 1901 Camino Ramon # F, Danville.

STYROFOAM. All Styrofoam goes in LANDFILL.

TRASH HAULERS. Couches, mattresses, carpeting, and other large items don’t belong in the black, blue or green containers. If MOD won’t accept them, they need to be hauled away. Trash haulers who have good reviews on Yelp.com include Rays Hauling, Vets Move Junk, East Bay Hauling, Lamorinda Hauling, 1-800-GOT-JUNK? and All American Hauling.

What Goes to MOD? MOD accepts cardboard boxes, grass cuttings, tree and shrub trimmings, wood products, plywood siding, decking, tree logs, furniture that is not upholstered, dirt in a pot or bag, and recyclable construction material from residents. Be ready to show your Rossmoor ID to staff at the site.

More Information…Recycle and landfill posters are in the Rossmoor phonebook, pages 18 and 19. RecycleSmart has a more detailed list: https://www.recyclesmart.org.

Trash, Recycle or Compost, DOWNLOADABLE

The Making of a Pessimist

One of my main tasks as publicity chairman for Sustainable Rossmoor is to see to it that an Earth Matters column gets submitted twice a month. Several other club members have been helpful by submitting columns from time to time. But when no one sends me a column, I have to come up with something. I can assure you that writing about environmental issues isn’t a happy job. Most of the material I am able to find by research is bad news.

Almost every day, I read of another anti-science crony being appointed to an important position in the Environmental Protection Agency or some other federal government bureau. It is painful to read about the United States pulling out of the Paris Climate Agreement and the concessions being given to the coal, gas and petroleum industries.

Most scientists are in agreement that the earth is unraveling due to human caused global warming. The current extinction rate of species is 1,000 times the historical level. Global wildlife populations have decreased nearly 60 percent since 1970. Coral reefs are dying and the oceans could be completely free of fish by 2048 due to climate disruption, overfishing, pollution and habitat loss. The great Pacific garbage patch is now several times as large as the state of California. Many fish mistake small bits of plastic for food with awful consequences.

In spite of what we are being told by the anti-scientists in Washington, D.C., climate change is proceeding dramatically and abruptly. Hurricane Harvey led to the single largest rain event in U.S. history, which was followed by Hurricane Irma, the most powerful Atlantic Ocean hurricane ever recorded. In Canada, rapidly melting permafrost is already releasing massive amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This in turn causes warming, which increases the thaw further. Meanwhile, our forests are being cut down and/or burned. Anyone who has driven to Lake Tahoe has noticed the massive numbers of dead or dying trees. Some of this is caused by draught and much more by the bark beetles, which are pretty much out of control. Dying and burning trees, of course, release tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere and the cycle feeds on itself.

Now I read that the melting Arctic Sea ice is impacting the Atlantic Ocean water circulation system. Predicted sea level rise will cause devastation for the 145 million folks living on lands less than three feet above sea level. One author suggests that there will likely be 200 million climate refugees from sea level rise by 2050. Authorities are talking about possible sea level rise of 55 feet.

The Trump administration continues to work feverishly to scrub any mention of climate change from government websites. I tend to be a pretty optimistic person, but with regard to the future of the planet, I don’t see much to look forward to. We Depression babies and baby boomers have enjoyed a very good life. It is looking more and more like we have lived in the “best of times.” It may be all downhill from here on out.

Some experts are hinting that if humans continue adding carbon to the air and oceans, a global mass extinction event could be triggered by 2100. I hope they are wrong for the sake of our grandchildren and great grandchildren, but I sure wouldn’t bet any money on it.

This article first appeared in the April 4, 2018 edition of the Rossmoor News. Author Bob Hanson can be emailed at doctoroutdoors@comcast.net.

What’s the Big Deal About Plastic Straws?

Plastic drinking straws seem like such a small thing. Why do I find myself reading about them so often these days? Why are some cities banning the use of plastic straws? What’s going on here?

According to a CNN news story, nearly eight million tons of plastic waste makes its way into oceans and waterways each year. It is estimated that by the year 2050, there will be more plastic than fish in the oceans. Plastic straws are a single-use item.

Every day, Americans throw away 500 million plastic straws, enough to circle the earth twice. These straws are made of a petroleum by-product, polypropylene. It does not biodegrade naturally. When in the ocean, it floats until it’s consumed by some form of ocean life or else it makes its way to one of the floating ocean garbage dumps.

The Plastics Pollution Coalition states “Every bit of plastic that has ever been created still exists, including the small amount that has been incinerated and has become toxic particulate matter.” While the straws do not degrade, they do break into smaller pieces. These pieces act like sponges absorbing chemical compounds like PCB and DDT that are in the water.

The small pieces are eaten by sea animals and then become part of their bodies. They make their way up the food chain, eventually to be consumed by humans. Straws that don’t end up in the ocean cause other kinds of problems. Since they don’t biodegrade, those that are in landfill site are there forever.

Another negative consequence is that they go down storm drains adding to the build-up of debris that causes property damage when streets flood. These single use plastic straws are among the top five items removed from the sand when beach cleanups are held. The Ocean Conservancy has shared the following: Millions of plastic straws pollute our ocean where endangered animals like sea turtles can choke on them.

The average American eats out four times a week and almost everyone gets a straw (or two). If we get 25,000 people to skip the straw at restaurants every time, we can keep 5 million plastic straws out of our ocean and landfills in just one year. Take the Last Straw Challenge: When eating out, ask your waiter or waitress to skip the straw.

People have good reasons for using straws. What I am talking about is single-use plastic straws that restaurants routinely place in drink orders. There are alternatives to these. Paper straws are biodegradable. If you need to use straws at home, consider these or reusable straws made of glass, stainless steel, bamboo or other that can be washed and reused. While I don’t believe a ban on plastic straws will end the plastic pollution problem, it is a place to start.

For information, go to thelastplasticstraw.org.

This article first appeared in the Rossmoor News, March 21, 2018. Author Linda Walonen is a member of Sustainable Rossmoor’s Trash Talkers Team. She can be emailed at lsw923@comcast.net.

Day Zero: Lessons From Cape Town’s Crisis

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists of Feb. 16 featured an interview by journalist Dan Drollette Jr. of Peter Gleick, recipient of a MacArthur “genius” fellowship and founder of the Pacific Institute, on the water crisis in Cape Town, South Africa. Gleick explained that for the first time a major city is on the verge of literally turning off its municipal water supply system because of a lack of water. Whether or not it actually happens will depend on whether they’re able to implement programs that reduce enough demand and whether it starts to rain.

Although there are still enormous disparities, South Africa has been a world leader since apartheid ended in addressing previously unmet needs for water and sanitation. The problem is a combination of population growth and absolute limits on new supply. They’re running into peak water constraints and the new reality of climate change.

Previously, water planners and managers had assumed that the climate was variable but stable, that there would be wet years and dry years but that it wouldn’t be changing over time in the long run. That’s no longer true.

We know that humans are causing climate change and we know that some of the worst impacts will be manifested in changes in the hydrologic cycle and changes in water availability and demand. Cape Town is at the limits of getting any new supply. Cape Town is over-tapping its rivers and over-pumping groundwater. The population continues to grow and demands for water continue to grow. Higher temperatures worsen the severity of the drought by increasing the demand for water and the loss of water from soils and reservoirs.

Even though water is a renewable resource, there are limits to how much we can take and use. When the entire flow of rivers, such as the Colorado or Yangtze or Yellow, has been taken a peak constraint occurs. In addition, as much as a third of all the groundwater that’s pumped worldwide now comes from non-renewable groundwater resources. That’s a peak limit as well. More and more regions of the world are reaching peak water. Pumping from ever deeper and deeper levels becomes economically infeasible.

The Ogallala Aquifer is a good example of a peak limit. It is a fossil aquifer that underlies Texas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Kansas and several other states. It was laid down over tens of thousands of years, but it is being pumped out in decades. Other examples of peak limits are happening in the Middle East, Northern China, parts of Indian and in parts of the Central Valley of California.

Fortunately, the United States has the economic and technical ability to shift water from one user to another, to implement conservation programs that reduce demand–to do the things that Cape Town is doing now–but to do them more effectively. Places like Jakarta or Tehran, or places in the developing world where they don’t have alternatives, where they don’t have the economic ability to use treated wastewater or to desalinate water, and where they don’t have the management ability to implement smart and effective conservation programs are more threatened.

In the 1980s, engineers in Boston plugged a lot of leaks and upgraded all the pipes in the city’s water supply system and reduced water consumption by 40 percent. The cheapest source of new water is not actually new water – it’s spending money on conservation and efficiency programs that let us save water we’re already using.

The smartest thing we can do is make our water use more efficient, to grow more food with less water, to flush our toilets and wash our clothes with less water, to keep the benefits of our water use while reducing the volume of water required to satisfy those benefits.

In the fourth of five years of the California drought, the state imposed a mandatory reduction in urban water use of 25 percent. This was accomplished through a mix of programs. People were offered money to remove lawns and replace them with “xeriscaped” or drought-resistant gardens. Utilities offered rebates on efficient toilets and washing machines. There were restrictions on the timing and the amount of outdoor landscaping. There were changes in rate structures that encouraged people to save money by saving water. Penalties were imposed on high water users.

In the long run, we’re moving toward a sustainable future for water or the soft path for water. It involves alternative sources of supply, like using treated wastewater and capturing more storm water; improving the way we use water and becoming more efficient; smart economic policies and better management. It involves accepting the reality of climate change and integrating the risks of climate change into the way we plan and manage our water systems.

This article first appeared in the March 14, 2018 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Judith Schumacher-Jennings can be emailed at sjmadrone@sonic.net.

Global Warming, Rising Sea Levels and What Can be Done

Well folks, I hate to be a “messenger of doom,” but the long-term health of our mother Earth doesn’t look very good, even if we do manage to avoid a nuclear war. I’ve been doing quite a bit of reading on the subject of global warming – more precisely sea level rise – and things don’t look promising. Scientists agree that 2017 was the warmest year in recorded history, eclipsing the temperatures of the previous high in 2016. When the air heats up, the ocean temperatures heat up, which they predictably have been doing. As I’m sure you remember from high school physics class…warm water expands.

A second cause of rising seas is melting glaciers and polar ice caps. You have probably heard that Glacier National Park probably won’t have any glaciers by the end of this century, but even more alarming is the loss of ice from Greenland and Antarctica. The Arctic Ocean is now almost ice free each summer and every so often a hunk of ice the size of Rhode Island slips loose from Antarctica into the sea to melt. Sea level rise has only been 4 to 8 inches in the last 100 years, but the rate at which it is rising has doubled this past decade.

A recent study by the University of Melbourne found that unless coal burning is halted entirely by 2050, melting of Antarctica’s ice alone will cause the oceans to rise 1.3 meters. Another recent study showed that the Totten Ice Field in Eastern Antarctica is melting at an accelerated rate. This glacier alone has enough ice to raise sea levels 11-13 feet, submerging many of our coastal cities. Many of the citizens of South Pacific Island nations are already starting to migrate as their homelands gradually disappear. Millions of people will likely have to emigrate from Bangladesh, a good part of which is only a few feet above sea level.

Sea level rise, of course, isn’t the only problem with global warming. We have seen quite a few growing problems lately: wildfires, hurricanes, major droughts, etc. Now, I realize that the burning of fossil fuels isn’t the only factor in global warming. Volcanic eruptions and wildfires put plenty of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Unfortunately, there is little we can do to prevent forest fires and nothing at all to stop volcanoes. So, we must do the common sense things that we can do…drive our cars less, drive cars that get good mileage, turn off lights when not needed, invest in solar panels, turn down the thermostat, etc.

Most of us probably won’t live to see the worst effects of rising world temperatures. But I just became a grandparent for the 5th time a couple of weeks ago, and I am concerned about the world that little girl will be living in 50 years from now. When she grows up, I don’t want her to be asking why I didn’t do something about climate change.

In the meantime, here are a few tips: Don’t even think about buying a waterfront home in Stinson Beach. Invest in corporations making concrete… it’s going to take lots of it to build the sea walls and dikes we will need to protect our coastal cities. Invest in land in Northern Saskatchewan…they may be growing rice and oranges up there soon. Be the first one in your entry to drive an all-electric car. The best solution to the problem would be a global carbon tax. This tax would cause everyone to reduce fossil fuel consumption. The proceeds could be used to end the world’s poverty.

But until we get a federal world government, that isn’t going to happen. So, let’s do what we can as individuals and be glad we live in an environmentally aware state like California. If we are lucky, the climate change deniers in Washington, D.C., will be out of office soon and we can re-join the rest of the civilized world in working for a solution.

This article first appeared in the February 21, 2018 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Bob Hanson can be emailed at doctoroutdoors@ comcast.net



Wednesday, May 2, 7:00-8:30 pm,  Where: Peacock Hall

The Vegan Club and Sustainable Rossmoor are cosponsoring the documentary film FOOD FOR CHANGE.

In a time when ‘local,’ ‘organic,’ and ‘sustainable’ are terms regularly used by large grocery chains to create an illusion of a healthy food delivery scheme, it’s worth looking at a contrasting economy that truly delivers on the promise  – the American food cooperative – and the role that co-ops have played for generations connecting consumers to farmers with democracy, honesty, and transparency. FOOD FOR CHANGE examines the role food co-ops played in their pioneering quest for organic foods, and their current efforts to create regional food systems. It shows cooperatives’ focus on local economies and issues of food security.

We take a look back at a time in America when food cooperatives were commonplace during the Great Depression but were threatened by the post-WWII consumerism and large agri-businesses. Industrial farms grew bigger in size and smaller in number, relying on synthetic chemicals and mechanization to grow cheap food and reap maximal profits. Two million family farms were driven out of business.

But during the tumultuous events of the 1960s, food co-ops re-emerged as an alternative to factory farms and corporate-owned grocery chains. Food co-ops were seen as a force for dynamic social and economic change in American culture. What began as an obscure stance from a counterculture has resulted in a market for natural and organic foods valued at over $100 billion annually. Today they are turning to a new cause and niche market: locally sourced food.

The film profiles several food co-ops that have revived neighborhoods and communities – right in the shadows of corporate agribusinesses and supermarket chains. It’s an inspiring example of community-centered economies thriving in an age of globalization.

This 82 minute film has SDH Captions and will be followed by a discussion and a raffle. The film was made possible by a donation from the Rossmoor Farmers Market. The Market celebrates its re-opening on Friday, May 20th from 9 am until 1 pm.

Trailer: https://vimeo.com/98561491

This is an uplifting but honest film about the relationships between the environment, food, economics, democracy, and government. It’s an opportunity to understand the role of politics and policy in our own lives and what we can do about it where we live. In many cities and towns, the Farmers Market offers some of these same choices.

“This film should inspire anyone interested in creating socially just, community supported, and economically viable enterprises.”

Marion Nestle, Professor of Nutrition, Food Studies, and Public Health, New York University, Author, Food Politics

“Food for Change is just the kind of nourishment our minds and hearts need right now! The documentary explains key historical moments and trends, traces the multiple roots of the cooperative food movement, and illustrates how groups and communities are taking charge of their food futures. This is an indispensable resource for people who want to understand how a cooperative vision can guide one of the most important domains of the economy and our lives.”

George Cheney, Professor of Communication, University of Colorado-Colorado Springs, Author, Values at Work

“I felt energized by the movie. I loved all of the historical background and couldn’t help feel that what we’re doing will be historic someday too. The movie made me believe that we can do anything!”

Linda Balek, Steering Committee Member, Food Shed Co-op, Woodstock, IL (start-up co-op)

Film Schedule Earth Awareness Week 2018


All films shown in Peacock Theater

Mon, 4/16, 1:00-3:00 pm, BECOMING CALIFORNIA (116 min)

An epic story of environmental change on America’s western edge. From geologic origins hundreds of millions of years ago to present day and beyond, Becoming California takes a look at change on a grand scale. It reveals how humans’ approach toward the environment dictates the nature of change, and how a shift in attitudes can foster healthy, functioning ecosystems amidst vibrant economies, sustaining not just nature, but people, too. Watch the Trailer:



Tues, 4/17, 10:00am – 12:00, OVER TROUBLED WATERS (45 min)

This award-winning documentary produced by Restore the Delta and narrated by Ed Begley, Jr. details the dangers to the largest estuary on the west coast as it becomes more salty, more shallow, and warmer with its wildlife dying off as a result of the peripheral canal taking northern CA water to the Los Angeles. The new threat — the delta tunnel project — is avoidable with other ways to create a sustainable water supply. Click to view the trailer: .

NB:  After the showing, Sustainable Rossmoor President, Marcia McLean, will interview JOAN BUCHANAN who served as our Assemblywoman, representing AD16 in Sacramento from 2008-2014. Joan is currently President of the Board of Restore the Delta.


Wed, 4/18. 8:30-10:00 am, Peacock REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR (90 min)

Director of Who Killed the Electric Car? comes back with an inspiring and entertaining account of a revolutionary moment in human transportation as he follows developments at General Motors, Nissan, and Tesla, where these auto makers race each other to create the first, best, and most popular in the new EV market. Watch theTrailer


Wed, 4/18. 10:45 am -12:00 pm, Peacock JUST EAT IT: A FOOD WASTE STORY (85 min)

A fun film that follows filmmakers and food lovers Jen and Grant who dive into the issue of waste from farm, through retail, all the way to the back of their own fridge. After catching a glimpse of the billions of dollars of good food that is tossed each year in North America, they pledge to quit grocery shopping cold turkey and survive only on foods that would otherwise become landfill. But, as Grant’s addictive personality turns full tilt towards food rescue, the ‘thrill of the find’ has unexpected consequences. Watch the Trailer:


Also on Wed, 4/18, 1:00-2:30 pm, Repeat Showing: REVENGE OF THE ELECTRIC CAR

Director of Who Killed the Electric Car? comes back with an inspiring and entertaining account of a revolutionary moment in human transportation as he follows developments at General Motors, Nissan, and Tesla, where these auto makers race each other to create the first, best, and most popular in the new EV market. Watch the Trailer: .



For more information, on the films please feel free to contact the event Chair, Carol Weed, carol4ofa@gmail.com.


What if the Grid Can’t Handle All Those Electric Vehicles?

As of last November, there were over three million plug-in vehicles on the roads around the world, according to The Guardian newspaper – and fully a third of them were sold in 2017. And then last week, in his State of the State address, Governor Jerry Brown called for putting five million zero-emission vehicles on California’s roads by 2030. That’s good news for all of us who care about reducing air pollution and limiting the burning of fossil fuels.

The world is in the early stages of a fundamental and profound shift in the way we generate, distribute, and consume power. It’s what economist and author Jeremy Rifkin has called “The Third Industrial Revolution.” His analysis suggests that the First Industrial Revolution, which took place in the middle of the 19th century, was the result of simultaneous shifts in three critical economic sectors, communication, power generation, and transportation.

Over a 40- to 50-year time period the primary source of power for homes and factories evolved from water power and wood stoves to electricity generated by steam; at the same time, we were building out telegraph and telephone networks, and using the printing press to create a literate society, developments that led to rapid, relatively inexpensive communication; and thirdly we built coal-powered, steam-driven locomotives that could move both people and goods long distances at much higher rates of speed than horse-drawn wagons were capable of.

Then, in the early 1900s, we transformed all three of those basic economic activities again. We moved from a dependence on steam and coal to an oil-based and electrified economy; we developed the internal combustion engine and added trucks and automobiles to our transportation system. We witnessed the growth of radio and television broadcasts that transformed once again how we communicated with each other and learned about events in distant locations.

In 2018, Rifkin believes we are in the early stages of a Third Industrial Revolution. The shift in communication capabilities is obvious: The Internet enables us to communicate directly with almost anyone anywhere in the world, at almost no cost. And we are also transitioning from oil and other fossil fuels to renewable sources of energy like wind and solar power.

Both of those developments include moving from highly centralized sources of power and knowledge to widely distributed mechanisms. In addition, the rising cost of gasoline, in combination with growing concerns about climate change, has fostered explosive growth in the sales and use of hybrid cars and electric vehicles.

However, that rapid growth raises a question most of us do not often think about: Are we in danger of overloading the grid? Can we continue to generate enough electricity to power all those vehicles being plugged in every night at people’s homes rather than being refueled at gas stations? Well, the good news is that, at least so far, there appears to be little risk of running out of electricity.

A report published by the Natural Resources Defense Council in November 2017 concluded that even though most EV owners do charge their vehicles at nighttime, during off-peak hours, there is a great deal of variation in the timing of when they plug into the grid. Thus, in the near term we aren’t going to experience night-time peaks or brownouts and the overall demand for electricity remains lower at night.

Since 2012, California’s state regulators have required the state’s largest investor-owned utilities to publish an annual “load report” that puts the growth in EV demand in perspective. And the news is encouraging. First, even though the number of EV’s in California has grown by a factor of 12 in the last five years, that growth has not driven any significant need to upgrade the transmission lines or electrical generation capacity. In fact, the cost of system upgrades attributable to increased EV charging is less than 100th of one percent of the utilities’ total capital expenditures on the grid in 2017. Second, and more importantly, time-of-use rates for electricity have been very effective at encouraging off-peak charging by EV owners. Off-peak rates are so inexpensive, especially compared to gasoline, that virtually all EV charging is occurring at night. Furthermore, most EV charging systems make it possible for owners to schedule the charging at any time during the night, so many of them choose to have the charging cycle begin at midnight or even later, towards the end of the off-peak window, rather than at the beginning.

The NRDC concludes that: In short, California brings welcome news for all states experiencing and accelerating EV growth. Rather than crashing the grid, grid impacts from EVs to date in the country’s largest market have been marginal. … Therefore, states, utilities, and grid planners need not fear transportation electrification; they should embrace it.

This article first appeared in the February 7, 2018 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Jim Ware can be emailed at jim@jimware.com.

From Toilet to Tap

Remember the 1995 movie “Waterworld”? It was set in a future when the raised sea levels covered all continents on Earth after the melting of polar ice caps. At the beginning of the film, Kevin Costner’s character urinated into a plastic cup, ran it through a homemade purifying system consisting of a series of tubes and a pump, and drank the effluent that came out of it. I was so grossed out by that scene that I never watched the rest of the movie. I wasn’t alone. This “yuck” factor has been one of the biggest hurdles for communities that have considered direct potable reuse (DPR) of municipal wastewater (sewage), despite the fact that the technology has long been available to treat wastewater to the level that is safe for drinking. If you feel the same way about DPR as I did before, now is time to do some rethinking.

There was not a drop of rain in Walnut Creek last month. We had some rain in January, but how much more rain and snow we will get this winter in Northern California is anybody’s guess. The water rationing we lived through in the recent past is likely to happen again. Yet we continue to use drinking water for almost everything, including flushing toilets and watering lawns and plants.

In 2016, Central Sanitary District cleaned an average of 32 million gallons of wastewater each day. Only 10 percent of it was recycled. For years in California, the lingering drought and population growth have sent public officials scrambling for more drinking water supply, and tremendous efforts were made at state and local levels in an attempt to make potable reuse of recycled water a reality.

Those efforts culminated in Governor Jerry Brown’s signing of a new law last October that requires the State Water Resources Control Board to adopt, by the end of 2023, uniform water recycling criteria for DPR through “raw water augmentation” – adding treated wastewater into a system of pipelines or aqueducts that deliver raw water to a drinking water treatment plant that provides water to a public water system.

Up till now, the planned use of recycled water to supplement drinking water supplies has been limited to indirect potable reuse (IPR). The difference between direct and indirect potable reuse is that the IPR process includes an environmental buffer and DPR doesn’t. In IPR, highly treated municipal wastewater is injected into groundwater basins or discharged into surface water reservoirs that are used as sources of drinking water. The recycled water remains within these natural bodies for some period of time until pumped out by a drinking water treatment plant. Using recycled water to replenish groundwater basins has been practiced in California for over 50 years, primarily in Southern California.

To date, according to a report published by the State Water Board, there are eight approved projects in the state that use recycled water to replenish groundwater for potable reuse, and more than a dozen projects are being planned by local groundwater management agencies and water utilities. However, using recycled water to augment surface water reservoirs has not been implemented in California because of the public perception factor.

Currently there are only two DPR projects operating worldwide as a permanent source of drinking water. One was in Windhoek, Namibia, which started operation in 1968 during a prolonged drought, and continued as a source of supply after the drought emergency passed. The other project is in Big Spring, Texas. The regional water agency there began to consider using treated wastewater as a new water source during an extended drought cycle that started in the 1990s. Its DPR facility began operating in May 2013, serving several cities including Big Spring, Odessa and Midland. However, no DPR regulations exist today in the United States at the federal or the state level. The projects that were, or are being, approved by the state of Texas have been evaluated on a caseby-case basis.

California’s effort to develop statewide standards for DPR began in 2010 when the Legislature enacted legislation that directed the Department of Public Health to investigate the feasibility of developing uniform water recycling criteria for direct potable use, and to report back to the Legislature by the end of 2016. The responsibility was later transferred to the State Water Board.

The new law signed by the governor last October was the result of that five-year feasibility study. So, 22 years after the film “Waterworld” grossed me out, California has moved one step closer to ensuring that treated municipal wastewater is safe for drinking. And we’re reaching the point that the concept of “toilet to tap” should no longer repel us.

This article first appeared in the January 24, 2018 issue of the Rossmoor News. Author Jennifer Mu can be reached at barnhartmu8833@ gmail.com.

The Nuclear Option by NOVA (2017)

When: Wednesday April 11, 7:00-8:30 pm  Title: The Nuclear Option by NOVA (2017)

Where: Peacock Hall

Five years after the earthquake and tsunami that triggered the unprecedented meltdown of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, scientists  wonder: what’s next for Fukushima? What’s next for Japan? What’s next for a world that seems determined to jettison one of our most important carbon-free sources of energy? Despite the catastrophe, a new generation of nuclear power seems poised to emerge phoenix-like from the ashes. NOVA investigates how the realities of climate change, the inherent limitation of renewable energy resources, and the optimism and enthusiasm of a new generation of nuclear engineers is seeding a Renaissance in nuclear technology. What are the lessons from Fukushima and how might we be able to build a safe nuclear future?  (One hour film with optional discussion after.)

Trailer:  http://youtu.be/u1wKpZsU2-o

Q&A Afterwards:  Nuclear energy engineer, Vicki Swisher will be the film’s discussant. She has over 40 years experience in the commercial nuclear industry, and has worked in almost every area of nuclear development including design, construction, plant startup, licensing, and project management during her career. Vicki is a Rossmoor resident and a director in Fourth Mutual.

Recent SR opinion articles regarding concerns about utilizing the Nuclear Power option:

Nuclear Power Is Not Green Energy

Nuclear Power: Salvation or Catastrophe?