The current CO2 concentration is 390 parts per million and is rising by about 2 parts per million every year. For all of human history until about 200 years ago, our atmosphere contained 275 parts per million of carbon dioxide. Some carbon dioxide is needed to trap heat or our planet would be too cold for humans. The burning of coal, oil, and gas have resulted in too much carbon dioxide in the atmosphere resulting in the increasing temperature of the earth, melting polar ice, rising ocean levels, changes in weather patterns, and negative impacts on the food and water resources.
Climate change creates risks and challenges for the City of Watsonville, as we will be threatened with sea-level rise, increased temperatures, heavier and more intense storms, air pollution, increased health problems and increased strain on an already impacted water supply. The City of Watsonville received grant funding through the State of California’s Sustainable Communities Planning Grant and Incentive Program in December 2012 to complete a Climate Action Plan and pilot carbon offset program.
The City has already taken significant action to reduce its carbon emissions and continues to seek new cost-effective methods to further reduce its impact on the global climate, including the following actions.
- The City has replaced all high pressure sodium street lights with new LED fixtures, which will reduce energy consumption by 50% and 175 Tons/ Year of CO2.
- The City has installed solar panels at 3 City facilities, City Hall, MSC and Watsonville Water Resources Center, which will generate over 850,000 kWh per year and reduce CO2 emissions by an estimated 586 tons per year
- Implemented a new vehicle selection policy which requires purchase of the most fuel efficient vehicle that meets designated needs
- Made bicycles available to employees for short trips between facilities
- Implemented bicycle and pedestrian trails and routes throughout the City
- Included hybrids and all-electric vehicles in the City fleet
- Converted traffic signal lights to energy-saving LED’s
- Developed highly-efficient routes for garbage and recycling vehicles to reduce the number of vehicles and the amount fuel needed to provide service
- Converted all diesel vehicle to bio-diesel
- Retrofitted the lights in all City buildings from T-10 to more efficient T-8 fixtures
- Converts waste from restaurant grease traps to energy at the Wastewater Treatment Plant
- Captures landfill gas sthat is used to generate electricity
- Encased the City’s landfill with a clay/cement cap to increase capture of landfill gas and decrease atmospheric emissions
- Initiated plans for large solar installations at the landfill and Watsonville Airport
- Coordinates efforts with regional partners including AMBAG and ICLEI
Watsonville residents can take action at home by cutting electricity and gas consumption. Effective measures include hanging laundry outside to dry, turning down the hot water heater and furnace setting a couple of degrees, use the clothes and dish washers only when full, replacing old refrigerators or freezers, installing energy saving light bulbs and insulating the hot water heaters and attics.
For more information about the City’s energy conservation program, contact Robert Ketley, Senior Utilities Engineer at 768-3137.
OTHER RESOURCESImpact of sea level-rise on the California Coast (California Climate Change Ctr.)
Preparing California for Changing Climate (The Public Policy Institute) United States Environmental Protection Agency