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ZOOm Go Electric: Clean Transportation at a Discount Price

By Clayton Johnson, Guest Blogger

ZOOm Go logoDEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.

Local nonprofit organizations Utah Clean Energy and Utah’s Hogle Zoo have joined forces to offer the ZOOm Go Electric program, which aims to tackle the Wasatch Front’s air quality issues. The goal of ZOOm Go Electric is to improve local air quality by facilitating increased adoption of clean, electric transportation options. To reach this goal, the program offers community members the opportunity to purchase an electric vehicle (EV) or an electric bicycle (E-bike) through a streamlined process and at a discounted price.

ZOOm Go Electric provides discounts on electric vehicles.

Electric vehicles are quiet, easy to drive, and protect our air quality.

Electric Vehicles and E-bikes can help us address our air quality issues because they emit zero tailpipe emissions. They contribute far less emissions compared to gasoline cars, even taking into consideration the upstream emissions from the electricity generation required for charging. Currently, cars and trucks are responsible for roughly half of the criteria air pollutant emissions that cause poor air quality days. Because EVs and E-bikes contribute up to 99 percent less of some of these pollutants, the increased adoption of these cleaner transportation options represents an important tool for addressing air quality issues along the Wasatch Front.

ZOOm Go Electric provides discounts on eBikes like the one pictured here at Hogle Zoo.

Why not ride an E-bike the next time you visit Hogle Zoo?

Grant funding from the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) made this program possible. UCAIR has also supported Utah Clean Energy’s past EV discount programs. In 2016, Utah Clean Energy formed partnerships with the University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Weber State University, and Utah State University to offer the U Drive Electric and Drive Electric Northern Utah programs. Through both programs, 231 community members purchased electric vehicles last year.

ZOOm Go Electric participants can take advantage of discounts of up to 25 percent on EVs and up to 45 percent on E-bikes from five participating EV dealers and nine participating bike shops. The program discounts are pre-negotiated based on a group-purchase model and come directly from the participating vendors. ZOOm Go Electric gives individual community members the opportunity to take proactive steps towards improving local air quality for all. Make the switch to clean electric transportation with ZOOm Go Electric. Don’t delay! The program ends May 31st.

Interested community members can learn more and enroll in the program at www.zoomgoelectric.orgAfter enrolling, participants will receive a confirmation email with a discount code and instructions about how to follow up with the EV dealers and bike shops of their choice. Those who wish to participate have until May 31st to sign up and make a purchase.

I’ve been with Utah Clean Energy since 2015. The majority of my time is focused on coordinating Utah Clean Energy’s Community Solar and Drive Electric programs, both of which are increasing the adoption of rooftop solar and electric vehicles in Utah through community outreach, a streamlined process, and discounted prices. Originally from Florida, I moved to Utah to attend the University of Utah where I received my bachelor’s degree in Environmental and Sustainability Studies in 2014. 

This entry was originally published on May 22nd, 2017, updated on May 22nd, 2017, and posted in news.

DEQ’s Greatest Asset? Its Employees

By Jen Potter

Photo of the employees who cleaned up the Unity Gardens for an Earth Day service project

DEQ employees volunteered to clean up the Unity Gardens during an Earth Day service project

When I was asked to write a blog about the Utah Department of Environmental Quality’s commitment to employees, I asked myself one important question: does DEQ’s commitment to employees include a commitment to employee engagement? While commitment affects an employee’s overall satisfaction with his or her job, engagement goes a step further. A commitment to employee engagement means creating a work environment where employees thrive, and where they in turn are committed to the organization’s goals and values. It’s all about how individuals see their organization.

As our Deputy Director Scott Baird says, “Having a commitment to employees means having a commitment to each other.”

So, how does DEQ do this? I work in the Executive Director’s Office, so I see firsthand how hard our leaders work to balance what DEQ can do with what DEQ wants to do. They are always looking for ways to improve the employee experience.

Professional development for employees is important to DEQ. This photo shows three air-quality scientists presenting their research.

Air Quality scientists Nancy Daher, Whitney Oswald, and Chris Pennell. DEQ encourages its employees to engage in cutting-edge research

Professional Development

Our scientists, engineers and other talented staff don’t just come here with a degree in their field of study and stop there. New technologies, new research, and new challenges arise constantly. DEQ is committed to helping employees boost their knowledge, pursue educational opportunities, and enhance their skills. Employees who are encouraged to learn and grow have greater job satisfaction and contribute to making DEQ the best it can be.

Employee Engagement

Our Executive Director does “walkabouts” in DEQ as often as he can. Dropping by employees’ cubicles or offices on a regular basis helps him get to know staff and become acquainted with the different teams that work here. This type of engagement has enhanced employee morale and shown that our director is truly committed to the employees of DEQ. This has been a huge benefit to staff here at DEQ, because they feel like they truly can talk to him.

Employees enjoy getting tohgether for fun activitie. this photo shows Deborah Ng dressed up for Halloween as an oil can to encourage recycling.

Hazardous Waste Manager Deborah Ng has fun at the annual Halloween party while encouraging folks to recycle their used oil.

Employee FUN

How do you make an office more fun when you are working on serious concerns for the State of Utah? You build people up, you encourage advancement, and you encourage a sense of light–heartedness. You find balance between what you have to do, and when you can pause just a second to look at what you have. We work in an amazing state with so much to offer, not just to our visitors but to our staff. Getting together for fun activities reminds us why we protect this state and gives us the motivation to not only want to do our jobs better, but to form the kinds of relationships that make our organization stronger.

Employee Recognition

Managers and employees have a unique opportunity to acknowledge each other with “On-the-Spot” awards. These awards are a small token to say “thank you” for going above and beyond. Every year, division directors pick one person on their team who exemplifies DEQ’s Mission, Vision, and Values. These individuals are honored because they didn’t just come to work; they improved the State of Utah’s environment.

Employees receive recognition at a luncheon in their honor. Photo shows DEQ administrative professionals.

DEQ couldn’t do the great work it does without these talented administrative professionals, so the agency recognized them at a celebratory luncheon

For me personally, just working here has been rewarding, and that has been because of the leaders I have worked with, starting with Walt Baker, the director of the Division of Water Quality (DWQ). Walt taught me about the importance of communicating and was always seeking my feedback. He reminded me that my contribution was invaluable to DWQ. That in my leadership role, I needed to teach my team how to be empowered, learn to trust themselves, and most importantly, learn to trust each other. Walt showed me that no one was little or insignificant, that we all make a difference.

I am fortunate enough to work for our Executive Team now. They are true leaders. They lead by example; they never shy away from doing what is right for everyone, not just for themselves. Their doors are literally always open, and they are always willing to listen about how to improve. They aren’t afraid to hear the bad, and once they do, they want to do what they can to improve and make things better. That is a true commitment to employees. As an employee, you know you are valued.

Building great leaders is key to building great employees. DEQ is committed to building a great team, one I am proud to be a part of!

I am the Executive Administrative Assistant in the Executive Directors office for DEQ. I have worked for the State of Utah for six years, and love serving this great State! When I am not at work, I enjoy being with my family spending quality time together.  

 

This entry was originally published on May 15th, 2017, updated on May 15th, 2017, and posted in news.

Every Week Is “Safe Drinking Water Week” at DEQ

By D’yani Wood

Click on image for a larger view

Water is a source of life. It only takes one twist of a knob to turn on the sink faucet or the shower, a few button presses to wash your clothes, all with clean water. But it would only take one little dangerous microorganism in that water to make it lethal.

Clean water does not magically appear. It is not as simple as running a pipe from a water source to your home. The systems in place providing us with clean drinking water are complex, and they are constantly in motion to safeguard you and maintain a steady supply of safe water for all of us to drink and use.

When I started here at the Division of Drinking Water (DDW), I, like most of us, knew nothing about the process of providing safe and clean drinking water to pretty much every human in our country. I had a general idea that it was complicated, but I didn’t know about the effort that so many hardworking people put in to ensure we can all drink our water without fear of becoming sick.

At DDW, we make sure all water systems throughout the state are keeping their water safe and maintaining their systems in a way that prevents accidents and contamination. I specifically work in Field Services and help with the Operator and Backflow Certification programs. A water system, depending on the population size of the area served, is required to have a Certified Operator oversee the process of providing safe water from deep inside the earth to your home.

Elevated drinking water tank in West Valley City

Elevated drinking water tank in West Valley City

When I process a certification exam, I know I am helping to ensure our water systems will have one more knowledgeable person looking over everything and solving problems that may arise before they can affect public health. When I enter continuing education unit (CEU) courses into our database, I know I am helping keep track of vital trainings that have educated our operators on the most recent technology or safety advancements in the industry. When I process a certification renewal application, I am helping the operators keep up on that continual learning process, making sure they have gone to enough trainings over the past three years to keep their certification current and their knowledge up-to-date.

I myself studied and became certified once I saw the complexities of running a water system and how knowing more about the process would help me do my job even better.

All the little aspects of my job have now painted a picture for me, and I no longer think that clean water comes out of faucets like magic. It requires the technical expertise of many people working together, it requires a lot of equipment and planning, it requires a lot of attention, a lot of water sampling, and a lot of hard work.

Every time I turn on a faucet, I don’t take that water for granted. I now understand the distance each drop had to travel, and the amount of time and energy it took to get it to me in a clean, safe, and drinkable form.

May 7-13 is Drinking Water Week.  The theme this year is “Your water: To know it is to love it!” We encourage everybody to learn more about the people and processes that keep your drinking water clean and safe. Want to know more about the quality of your drinking water in your city or town? Check out your system’s consumer confidence report (CCR), an annual report each community water system provides its customers, on our Waterlink webpage.

I have experience with, and a love for, graphic design, which means I like to mess with how things look and the ease in which things can be understood and communicated visually. Working with computers and technology comes naturally to me. I am currently a writer for PlayStationLifeStyle.net where I get to review games and sometimes contribute to other articles, meaning I love writing and creating. My husband is Senior Editor of the site as well, which means we are both serious video game hobbyists. Along with video games, I consume as much media as I can in the form of TV shows, movies, and books. I have three cats in keeping with my lifelong love for animals. I am originally from Boise, Idaho, but I’m loving my life in Utah. I’m excited to work in the Division of Drinking Water and generate new ideas to help communication, efficiency, and productivity at any turn in the road.

 

This entry was originally published on May 8th, 2017, updated on May 8th, 2017, and posted in news.

DEQ Ombudsman Advocates for the Public, Ensures Fair Outcomes

By Paul Harding

The Utah Department of Environmental (DEQ) strives to provide exceptional service in all we do, but this is especially true in the areas of environmental permitting and inspection. Part of that commitment to exceptional service is responding to concerns or complaints from the public and businesses. That’s where I come in: in addition to my other duties in business assistance, I serve as the DEQ Ombudsman.

DEQ administers state and federal environmental laws relating to air quality, surface water and groundwater quality, drinking water, solid and hazardous waste management, radiation control, and underground storage tanks. These laws require us to issue environmental permits to businesses, local governments, and state and federal facilities to help limit pollution and improve the quality of our air, land and water while balancing economic development. Our scientists and engineers inspect permitted facilities or operations to ensure that regulations are followed and permit conditions are met. DEQ issues thousands of environmental permits and performs a comparable number of inspections each year.

The Ombudsman actively engages the regulated public to assure these services are administered both professionally and fairly. As the DEQ Ombudsman, I receive and investigate complaints made by citizens on potential abuses of discretion or arbitrary or capricious acts of the agency. These complaints could range from the agency failing to issue a permit in a timely manner, failing to enforce a permit or regulation, or an employee failing to act properly during an inspection or site visit. From a small business perspective, an owner may feel that the agency failed to take into account special problems or issues that a small business may have. The Ombudsman’s goal is to be as impartial and neutral as possible in determining whether the agency or the individual’s actions were fair and reasonable, then work to ensure an equitable resolution.

The Ombudsman’s Office recently developed a survey to collect feedback on how our agency is doing. Participation is voluntary and answers are anonymous unless individuals choose to share contact information with me. The intent is to measure professionalism and fairness as well as the effectiveness of our programs. The survey is not intended to measure any sort of frustration with regulations and requirements. It is hoped that the survey will provide us with the metrics we need to identify areas of concern and opportunities for improvement as well as recognize where we approach or meet our goal of exceptional service.

If you have had an interaction with Utah DEQ recently and are interested in helping us improve our programs, please take a few minutes to complete our survey. You should be able to complete the first page of the survey within a few minutes. You are welcome to submit your responses and stop there. However, if you have recently been inspected or been through a permitting process with UDEQ, we hope you will take a few more minutes and answer additional questions to give us a better understanding of those interactions.

If you have comments, concerns or questions and would like to contact me directly, please do so at 801-536-4108 or DEQOmbudsman@utah.gov. I look forward to hearing from you and hope that you will work with us to continue to improve our programs and services.

I am a Utah native, and I graduated from BYU with a degree in geology. I have had the privilege of serving the people of Utah for the last 23 years as an environmental scientist for the Utah Department of Environmental (DEQ). I spent my first 17 years as an inspector in the Underground Storage Tank Program. Just over six years ago, I accepted a position in Business Assistance, working in the Office of the Executive Director. I work with businesses in a number of capacities for DEQ, including as the Ombudsman. I’m part of the DEQ Ultimate gang who play Ultimate Frisbee for exercise at lunch. I live in Salt Lake with my husband, Brett, and our three dogs Sarge, Frankie and Bernie.

 

 

 

This entry was originally published on May 1st, 2017 and posted in news.

Air Assist Helps Millcreek Coffee Roasters Reduce Emissions with Every Cup

By Bailey Toolson, Guest Blogger

DEQ invites guest bloggers to share their thoughts on issues that impact our environment. We appreciate their insights and the opportunity to broaden the conversation with others in the community.

Coffee tasting at Millcreek Coffee Roasters

Millcreek Coffee Roasters, owned and operated by the Brewster family, has been a staple in the Salt Lake City coffee scene since 1993. Since they opened their doors, the Brewsters have been committed to sustainable business practices and environmentally friendly production, both at home and abroad. Millcreek Coffee is a Visionary Member of Rocky Mountain Power’s Blue Sky Renewable Energy Program, which enables it to meet its energy needs using only renewable wind power. The company has changed all the lighting in its facility to LED and is constantly looking for new ways to lead by example and be green.

Millcreek Coffee Roasters is also committed to clearing Utah’s air. The company approached the Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) for funding for equipment that would help it reduce its emissions and improve Salt Lake’s air quality.

Air Assist provided Millcreek Coffee Roasters with funding to help it purchase an afterburner for its coffee roaster.

Coffee roaster with afterburner

In November 2016, Millcreek was awarded an Air Assist grant to add an afterburner to its largest coffee roaster. An afterburner is a device attached to the coffee-roasting equipment that eliminates the fumes and particulates emitted during roasting. The afterburner achieves this by heating up and effectively burning off the odors and smoke. The afterburner is vented through the ceiling, and all the emissions are odorless and colorless. According to scientists at the Division of Air Quality, afterburner use during coffee roasting results in a significant reduction of volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions — up to 90 percent in most cases. Currently, there is no rule in place requiring coffee roasters to take this step to protect our air. Millcreek Coffee Roasters voluntarily undertook this project to do their part to protect our environment and lead by example.

Millcreek Coffee Roasters has consistently made sustainability and environmental responsibility a central part of its operations. For example, Millcreek purchases its beans directly from the growers when possible and gives its business to growers who use sustainable production practices. What are these sustainable practices? Well, coffee production is a water-intensive enterprise. However, it is possible to reduce the amount of water needed to process coffee by altering drying, pulp removal, and disposal methods. Installing wastewater treatment systems in coffee processing plants enable companies to convert the wastewater into biogas that can be used to generate electricity. Wastewater isn’t the only byproduct of coffee production that can be repurposed. The coffee pulp and other organic left overs are used as natural fertilizer on coffee plantations and the growers can sell this fertilizer to other local farms.

While its suppliers are giving back to their communities, Millcreek Coffee Roasters supports local Utah farmers and gardens by donating used burlap sacks, coffee grounds, and chaff. Instead of sending these items to the landfill, they are repurposed and have a second life at farms and gardens in our state. The burlap sacks, which hold green coffee beans, are used for starts for new plants. Coffee grounds are used for composting and fertilizer. Chaff, a byproduct produced when the husk of the coffee bean is separated during roasting, is used by farmers to oxygenate soil.


Millcreek Coffee Roasters’ decision to seek funding from Air Assist for an afterburner comes as no surprise. After all, the company is conscious of its impact on the environment and is continuously making improvements to reduce its carbon footprint. Air Assist is pleased to partner with Millcreek Coffee in its effort to improve our air quality while roasting every coffee bean to perfection.

The Air Assist Program offers funding to small businesses (those with fewer than 100 employees) in Box Elder, Cache, Davis, Duchesne, Tooele, Salt Lake, Uintah, Utah, Washington, and Weber counties. A variety of companies have received funding from the Air Assist Program, including auto body shops, landscaping companies, coffee roasters, and even cabinet makers. The request form is simple, funding is non-competitive and there is no deadline to apply. The Program has received funding through June 2017, so there is still time to complete a project. The staff is happy to talk with you about the program, answer your questions, and even help you complete the form.   

Bailey Toolson

I have been the Air Assist Program Manager since I joined the UCAIR team about a year ago. Prior to joining UCAIR, I worked for nearly four years with the Division of Air Quality. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking and camping, travel, and all things Italian.

 

 

This entry was originally published on April 24th, 2017 and posted in news.

Every Day Is Earth Day at DEQ

By Donna Kemp Spangler

The Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) attracts employees who have a strong desire to improve Utah’s environment. So it’s no surprise to find a culture at DEQ where employees promote sustainability practices and participate in community cleanups at work and at home.

Every day is Earth Day at DEQ.

Click image to enlarger. Infographic courtesy of one of our blog readers, Duncan McNabb at Norm Reeves Honda, in California.

Earth Day, in many ways, planted the seed for our blogs. In 2015, we launched our first blog series with the “12 Days of Earth Day,” featuring daily blogs from employees who are the “boots on the ground” working to improve the lives of Utahns. Since then, we’ve been highlighting what we do each week with blogs that use a personal approach to explain the issues and our regulatory roles. It’s also another means to reach people on social media.

Why? It’s part of DEQ’s mission, vision and values.

The Utah Legislature defined our mission in Utah Code 25 years ago. According to Alan Matheson, executive director, DEQ’s mission statement boils several statutory provisions into a succinct statement of our role as a regulatory agency that protects our environment in a way that balances society’s many needs.

Our vision reflects the fundamental need that clean air, land and water are essential for human health, our economy, and our quality of life.

DEQ values exceptional service: We solve problems, actively engage stakeholders, and are professional, responsive, and fair.

DEQ values its employees: Every day, DEQ employees walk into our offices determined to accomplish our mission. They come from different backgrounds and see the world in different ways, but they share a love for Utah and commitment to service and excellence.

DEQ values public’s trust and credibility: We earn the public’s trust through science-based solutions and accurate, reliable information accessible to the public.

DEQ values continuous improvement: We are accountable for taxpayer dollars, and look for more effective and efficient ways of doing business.

In the spirit  of Earth Day,  on Friday, April 21, DEQ is joining with Salt Lake City to spruce up its community garden at the Sorensen Unity Center. DEQ employees will plant flowers, weed gardens, spread bark, and connect with other volunteers in the community.

Like me, many of us at DEQ love what we do. It’s challenging at times when constrained by the realities of a layer-cake of state and federal laws. But whether it’s writing a permit or overseeing a cleanup, our goal is to make the environment a better place for all of us. It’s not just a job—it’s a passion. For us, Earth Day is every day.

Earth Day is a great opportunity to participate in making Utah a better place to live. Share your activity, along with a photo, on Facebook or Twitter, and tag DEQ in your post (Utah Department of Environmental Quality) or tweet (@UtahDEQ).

Donna SpanglerI am the Communications Director for DEQ and a former reporter for the Deseret News. I write a monthly blog post. You can read my previous blog posts at deq.utah.gov/news. You can follow me on Twitter @deqdonna

This entry was originally published on April 17th, 2017, updated on April 19th, 2017, and posted in news.