Environmentally Friendly Merced County

July 22, 2008 9:55:07 PM PDT
The Merced County board also gave the "green" light to a plan designed to save energy, water, and money.From energy efficient lighting, to sensor-operated low flow toilets and sinks, Merced County is taking several steps to become more environmentally friendly.

Richard Schwarz, Asst. Public Works Director: "Part of this project is to retrofit energy and water saving conservation measures for 22 facilities that the county owns."

The improvements include a new software system that will automatically turn off county computers that are not being used after hours. Also, a solar panel system will be installed at the John Latorraca Jail. And nine county facilities will receive irrigation controllers that will adjust watering cycles based on weather conditions.

Merced County Farm Bureau Executive Director Diana Westmorland Pedrozo says conservation efforts like this are critical at a time when many farmers are losing their crops due to the drought.

Diana Westmoreland Pedrozo: "This is just a great step for the county to do and I hope the other communities and cities will be following suit.

The project will cost about 15 million dollars, but the county is only planning to spend one million out of its next budget. The rest of the payments to Siemens Building Technologies will come from money saved on energy and utilities. The company has guaranteed the county will save more than 640 thousand dollars in the first year alone.

Richard Schwarz "Ultimately it saves the cost of county operations which in turn could be beneficial to the public at large." The entire project is expected to be complete by March of 2010.

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