County to Unveil Conservation and Sustainability Plans

By Bonnie J. Gordon

Years of planning and hard work are coming to fruition when Los Alamos County presents its Energy and Water Conservation and Sustainability Plans to the public this month.

County Environment Services Specialist Tom Nagawieki. Courtesy/LAC

County Environment Services Specialist Tom Nagawieki and Water/Energy Conservation Coordinator Christine Chavez will present the plans at two public meetings.

The meetings will be noon to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 22 at Mesa Public Library and 5:30-7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 28 at the White Rock Town Hall.

The purpose of the meetings is to help county officials prioritize conservation and sustainability strategies as well as to familiarize the public with the plans, Nagawieki said.

“I’m excited to get the plan out to the community. I want citizens to feel like they own the plan,” he said.

The Environmental Sustainability Initiative in 2008 laid the groundwork for sustainability action in Los Alamos County by identifying eight focus areas: 

  • environmental sustainability policy;
  • waste and recycling;
  • hydrocarbon independence;
  • water;
  • land use;
  • economic development;
  • education and outreach; and
  • measurement and reporting.

The Sustainability Plan builds on this foundation by targeting the area of measurement and reporting. The plan identifies key sustainability indicators that will enable the community to quantitatively track progress toward reaching the council goal to “enhance environmental quality and sustainability.” 

Each indicator has an associated goal, along with a strategy on the means to reach the established goal.  

“Sustainability indicators set specific goals and will help the County assess its current performance and develop strategies to reach those goals,” Nagawieki said.

The Energy and Water Conservation Plan Was designed to fulfill the objectives set out by The Board of Public Utilities and the Department of Public Utilities in 2010. These were:

  •  Establish consumption baselines for Water, Electricity and Gas representative of designated customer classes
  •  Adopt appropriate and reasonable conservation goals representative of the communities desires
  •  Develop cost-effective conservation programs to move the community towards defined conservation goals
  •  Develop an implementation plan and measurement metrics of conservation efforts

Water/Energy Conservation Coordinator Christine Chavez. Courtesy/LAC

The plan achieves its objectives by analyzing consumption profiles across specific customer classes to develop conservation goals and measurement metrics to monitor progress as well as to plan and provide for a revision process that allows for continuous improvement. The plan also serves compliance requirements.

The DPU Energy and Water Conservation Plan is the result of nearly two years of data-gathering, evaluation and analysis, Chavez said. In an effort to meet community defined goals, the DPU surveyed the public in 2011.

“We also formed the Energy and Water Conservation Advisory Group made up of County residents representative of different customer classes to help in the creation of our goals,” Chavez said.

The plans will not be complete until the public has weighed in at the upcoming public meetings.

“We what the citizens to help us prioritize and rank the strategies we’ve identified,” Nagawieki said.

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