September 30, 2008

“Water and Energy” Highlight New PBS Series Segment

Renewable energy and resource efficiency are the focus of "Water and Energy: A Powerful Connection," produced by Huell Howser and underwritten by members of the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA). This latest segment in the "California's Water" series is set to air at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 1 on KCET in Los Angeles. Following its debut, it will air statewide on PBS stations (check local listings for details).

Huell's first stop during the segment is the Sonoma County Water Agency, where 5,208 ground-mounted solar panels covering nearly five acres were recently installed. Totaling more than 1.5 megawatts, the system is capable of meeting at least one-third of the district's power needs - the equivalent to the energy needed to power 1,500 homes.

"We did this in order to reduce the amount of energy we use from the grid," James Flessner, principal engineer with SCWA, says in the segment. "It's very exciting because we see the effects right away on our energy bill."

Next, Huell travels to the Inland Empire Utilities Agency in Chino to learn about the extraordinary process of making electricity from cow manure using anaerobic digesters. Bacteria in the digesters break down the organic waste into "biogas," a renewable energy that is used to generate electricity and operate the agency's groundwater desalter. The leftover waste product is turned into a high quality organic fertilizer used by schools, gardeners and golf courses.

"The digesters solve multiple problems," IEUA General Manager Richard Atwater tells Huell. "They help deal with a major waste issue, reduce air and water pollution, generate renewable power and allow the agency to buy less electricity from the grid to operate its water system. It really benefits everybody."

The "California's Water" series began airing in April 2006 and covers issues identified in ACWA's comprehensive policy document, "No Time to Waste: A Blueprint for California's Water."

ACWA is a statewide association of public agencies whose 450 members are responsible for about 90% of the water delivered in California. For more information, visit