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Palo Alto hopes to settle compost dilemma by 2014

Original post made on Jun 29, 2012

The future of Palo Alto's composting services probably won't be settled until at least early 2014 as the city prepares to perform a series of complex studies and survey its options for a possible waste-to-energy plant in the Baylands.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Friday, June 29, 2012, 9:18 AM

Comments (4)

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Posted by Palo Alto Grandmother
a resident of Duveneck/St. Francis
on Jun 29, 2012 at 5:53 pm

I find it ironic that the two "best known conservationists" have had their photo taken in a spot that will be inaccessible if the projected sea level rise caused by global warming actually occurs. Web Link has a set of maps if you are curious. It's a mystery to me why any conservationist would find it acceptable for Palo Alto to truck our sewage waste and our green compost to Gilroy thus adding even more carbon dioxide to the overburdened atmosphere, not to mention paying a great deal of money to give away two resources that the city can quite possibly use to our advantage.

The success of Measure E has given Palo Alto an opportunity to do something to convert our compostable wastes to green energy and reduce our green house gas emissions. It also gives Palo Alto a way to control our own waste stream, reduces the city's exposure to dramatic increases in disposal costs and dependence on external waste disposers as well as providing an opportunity to realize income from the composting process. Check out the Palo Alto Green Energy website for additional details: Web Link

A local organization, the Woods Institute for the Environment, is working very hard to provide sustainable alternatives for individuals, organizations and cities. They share their research widely, and gave a seminar in February on Integrated Energy and Resource Recovery from Waste and Wastewater, which has direct bearing on Palo Alto's situation. Take a look.

Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment: Web Link
Energy Seminar: Web Link

Finally, I have been to quite a few meetings where city staff laid out in great detail the many variables affecting the development of Palo Alto's organic waste management action plan. The staff is doing the best it can to be as transparent as possible about the process, and jeering at them is insulting, at best. Although anaerobic digestion of sewage sludge and food waste is being used increasingly around the world as a waste management tool and source of energy, there is no blueprint to follow. Each installation must be developed to meet the needs of the community it serves.

There is more at stake here than ten acres of a former garbage dump and some money. I want my grandchildren to be able to walk in the Bay Lands. I really don't want large areas of Palo Alto to be underwater, not to mention large areas of New England and Manhattan, South East Asia, the Netherlands and many Pacific atolls.


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Posted by senor blogger
a resident of Palo Verde
on Jun 30, 2012 at 5:37 am

By 2014, it will probably be Compost.


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Posted by Emily Renzel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Jul 2, 2012 at 11:18 am

Anonymous Grandmother suggests that all of Palo Alto's baylands will be underwater due to Sea Level rise if the compost facility isn't built on former Byxbee Parkland. There is no question that Sea Level rise is happening, but Granma overstates the impact in the Palo Alto Baylands and also the potential for rescue by the Compost facility.

The projections are, I believe, about 54" of sea level rise by the year 2100. Tides are given in Mean Lower Low Water (MLLW) datum which is 4' below Sea Level. All of the hiking areas in the Palo Alto Baylands are at least Elevation 7' in Sea Level datum or 11' in MLLW datum. Many are much higher. The levees are at 14' Sea Level datum. The highest MLLW tides are currently about 7' so the projected 4.5' rise would bring those to 11.5'. By no means would the entire Palo Alto Baylands be flooded.

We should take Global Warming and Sea Level rise seriously, but we ought to be putting our carbon footprint reduction efforts where they are cost effective and where they can truly make a difference.


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Posted by John
a resident of Midtown
on Jul 2, 2012 at 6:21 pm

>The projections are, I believe, about 54"

Or less than zero, depending on how the models project.

James Lovelock, the guru of the global warming concerns, says that the best approach is nuclear power. Do you agree with Lovelock, Emily? If Lovelock is right, then we should not be wasting our time with compost facilities in our baylands.


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