Spraying savings

A roundup of local environmental news.


Spraying savings

An energy-efficiency initiative launched in 2011 with restaurants on and near Lake Street is returning for a big statewide push in 2013.

Two years ago, restaurants like Lucia’s and Fuji-Ya installed high-efficiency pre-rinse spray valves in their dishwashing areas, replacing less-efficient sprayers that used more hot water to do the same job. They got the new spray valves for free, thanks to a partnership between the Lake Street Council business association and Clean Energy Resource Teams, or CERTs, a Minnesota public-private partnership that promotes energy efficiency and clean energy.

The restaurant owners found the new high-efficiency valves saved them money, producing a high-pressure stream to get dishwashing done faster, using less water and less energy to heat the water. The Minnesota Water-Saving Bulk-Buy Program expanded that year to offer reduced-cost spray valves for a limited time to large kitchen facilities in places like hospitals and schools in addition to restaurants, and more than 70 participants together saved an estimated 13.5 million gallons of water and $180,000 a year on energy bills in 2011, CERTs reported.

Really, it’s not too different from installing a faucet aerator on a home sink, but the savings add up faster in a hospital or busy restaurant.

Alexis Troschinetz of CERTs said the statewide bulk-buy program returned this fall and will be active through August 2013. It offers the pre-rinse spray valves for $28, a savings of about $40 from the off-the-shelf price. Some utilities offer additional rebates for installing the valves, cutting the price even further.

The bulk-buy program also offers savings on faucet aerators, but the program is designed for large orders, so, while it might make sense for a whole apartment building, individual homeowners should look elsewhere. Many utilities offer rebates on water-saving devices for the home, like faucet aerators or low-flow showerheads.

Find more information on the Minnesota Water-Saving Bulk-Buy Program at mncerts.org/splash.

Watershed district steps-up invasive species monitoring

The Minnehaha Creek Watershed District plans to do more to monitor and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species like zebra mussels 2013.

The district’s Board of Managers on Dec. 13 approved an enhanced aquatic invasive species prevention program that aims to boost watercraft inspections in the district next year while also adding boat-cleaning stations and increasing the monitoring of area lakes, including the four in Minneapolis’ portion of the watershed. The program also includes additional education and outreach efforts targeting those who live or use the water resources in the district.

Watershed district spokesperson Telly Mamayek said the details of the program have yet to be worked out, but measures include an increase in the available grants to local governments for watercraft inspections. Last year, the presence of inspectors at some Minneapolis lakes was funded through a grant of about $14,000 that was matched by the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board, Mamayek said.

Zebra mussels are one of the aquatic invasive species inspectors will be looking for. The species, originally from Russia, has spread widely since it was first discovered in the Great Lakes in 1988.

The mussels are the only freshwater species with the ability to cling to hard surfaces like barnacles. Their sharp shells are a dangerous nuisance, and can cut the feet of swimmers and waders.

Found in Lake Minnetonka in 2010 and later in the western portions of Minnehaha Creek, the mussels have not yet spread to lakes Calhoun, Harriet, Nokomis or Hiawatha, the district’s Minneapolis lakes. The idea is to keep it that way, Mamayek said.

“That is an effort to catch infestations early,” she said. “We are expanding our monitoring to un-infested lakes to be very proactive and hopefully catch anything early so we can prevent it.”

The enhanced aquatic invasive species program includes funding for annual shoreline inspections conducted in August, when zebra mussel populations are typically at their seasonal peak. The district also plans to install additional sampling equipment in area lakes.

The samplers are metal plates, typically attached to a dock or a buoy, that are checked regularly for the presence of zebra mussels, Mamayek explained.

“We’ll have a lot more to say, certainly, as we progress into 2013,” she added. “This spring is going to be busy.”

In other news from the watershed district, as of mid-December there were three openings on its citizens advisory committee. The group meets on the third Thursday of each month at the district’s headquarters in Deephaven and advises on projects and programs, including the aquatic invasive species program described above.

Committee members also serve as watershed ambassadors of sorts, and are encouraged to attend community events and teach neighbors about the importance of protecting local water resources.

The deadline for applications is Dec. 31. For more information, or to apply for a committee position, go to minnehahacreek.org/CAC.


Reach Dylan Thomas at dthomas@mnpubs.com.