MSD Board Approves 6.9 Percent Rate Increase, Warns Critical Infrastructure Will Suffer Monday, Jun 27 2016 

Louisville’s Metropolitan Sewer District board Monday voted unanimously to approve a 6.9 percent rate increase — the largest the body can levy without Metro Council approval. The board previously approved a 20 percent increase, but the measure failed to get any support from council members.

MSD staff proposed the 20 percent rate increase last month, after completing a 20-year facility plan that laid out the work that needs to be done to protect the city from hazards like flooding. Because the agency is nearing the upper limits on the amount of money it can borrow through bonds, the staff argued that a substantial rate increase was necessary.

But the request was met by a skeptical Metro Council. Council members criticized the agency for not educating them or the public on the reasons behind the rate increase and ultimately declined to sponsor any related measures.

Now, the MSD Board has agreed to settle for a 6.9 percent rate increase, which will raise the bills of the average ratepayer by $3.38.

The smaller rate increase means that MSD will have to revise its capital budget to the tune of $32 million. Executive Director Tony Parrott said that will defer — or maybe permanently scuttle — some critical infrastructure upgrades, and most of the capital spending will go to the city’s federal consent decree to reduce sewer overflows into the Ohio River.

“There will be less work done on the stormwater side, there will be less work done on the Ohio River flood protection side,” Parrott said. “Our ability to really to just focus on the mandated consent decree work is going to be the priority under the 6.9 percent scenario.”

This, he warned, could snowball and end up costing the agency more money in the long run.

MSD Operations Director Brian Bingham said the 2015 lightning strike at the Morris Forman Treatment Plant — the event that caused about $10 million in damage and sent over two billion gallons of untreated or partially treated sewage into the Ohio River — could have been avoided if there had been money to make capital improvements to the facility years ago.

“We had initially planned on doing this backup generator 10 years ago, and we were just being able to get it into the process because of those rate constraints that we had,” Bingham said. “So, had we been able to get to these things earlier, we would have been able to save that pain and that effort and the same kinds of things are the types of projects that are in the list that was intended to be funded by this larger rate increase.”

In previous years, MSD’s budget has included about $2 million for emergency repairs, Parrott said. In fiscal year 2016, it was about $6 million.

The MSD board reluctantly approved the smaller rate increase at its regular meeting Monday, with many board members voicing displeasure.

“MSD is damned if we do and damned if we don’t,” said board member Joyce Horton Mott, saying the agency would be blamed whether it raised rates, or whether a catastrophic flooding event happens because the agency can’t raise rates and repair infrastructure.

“The proposed rate increase of 6.9 percent and a five-year capital spending improvement program to follow is unacceptable due to the high risk and danger to public safety and health,” said board member John Phelps in prepared remarks before the vote. Phelps initially said he would vote against the smaller 6.9 percent increase, but eventually voted in favor with the rest of the board members with a promise to revisit the larger increase next year.

Besides the $32 million in cuts to MSD’s planned capital improvements that will come this year with the smaller rate increase, Parrott warned that the long-term effects will be more severe. The agency is looking at as much as a $70 million cut to the Fiscal Year 2018 capital budget, compared to a scenario where sewer rates were raised by 20 percent.

Both MSD staff and the board said they would immediately begin educating the public and elected officials about the need for another significant rate increase in next year’s budget, with the hope that this time around they can get both community and political buy-in on the proposal.

Public Can Weigh In On Bowman Field Tree Removals This Week Monday, Jun 27 2016 

The Louisville Regional Airport Authority will hold a public meeting this week on a controversial plan to remove hundreds of trees near Bowman Field to meet Federal Aviation Authority requirements.

The LRAA released a draft environmental assessment for the plan last month. It recommends even more tree removal than the authority initially anticipated. In all, more than 200 trees will be removed. Most are near the airport, and are species that are either over 90 feet tall or have the potential to grow that large.

“We’re obligated by our grant assurances, and the FAA regulations tell us that the airport is responsible to keep approaches to runways clear,” said LRAA Deputy Executive Director for Planning and Engineering Brian Sinnwell. “So, we’re obligated to do that, and that’s what we’ve been trying to do through this process.”

More than 100 trees have already been removed for the program — either on property owned by Metro government or the airport, or land where the airport already owned the air easement space.

Public outcry in the neighborhoods surrounding Bowman Field — many of which are desirable because of their mature trees and proximity to leafy Seneca Park — was swift when the LRAA announced the plan in 2011. Citizens formed a group called Plea for the Trees to lobby against the tree removals. Now, Plea for the Trees attorney Leslie Barras said the group is mostly resigned to losing the community’s largest trees and is focused on what will replace them.

“The public can still play a huge role in getting more mitigation for those substantial environmental and community losses,” she said.

She noted that the draft environmental assessment doesn’t commit the LRAA to replacing the trees it removes, though the airport authority has said it will replace every tree removed with two smaller ones, as well as provide additional assistance to homeowners.

Barras said especially when considering Louisville’s urban heat island problem — which recommends planting 2,545 additional trees in the near Bowman Field without taking the airport’s removal plan into account — the LRAA should do more. And she said there will be another side-effect of the expansion plan.

“Basically by removing these trees, nighttime flights will be able to be resumed at Bowman Field, which will have impacts on the neighborhood,” she said. “And that hasn’t been fully disclosed in the environmental study, as well.”

Sinnwell said it’s true that the tree removal would allow some runway approaches to be safe at night, but it’s nothing new for Bowman Field.

“We’re not doing anything new; we just want to get back what we had,” he said. “So for example, some of the approaches to the runways we can’t use at night because of safety concerns so those approaches are shut down. All we want to do is get those back. And how we get those back is to clear trees. And that’s what we’re after.”

The public meeting will be Tuesday, June 28 at the Breckinridge Inn (2800 Breckinridge Ln) from 5:30-7:30 pm.

In Kentucky, High Hopes For Hemp Monday, Jun 27 2016 

This story is from the Ohio Valley ReSource, a journalism partnership that aims to rethink how we use our resources in a shifting economy. With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, seven public media outlets in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia — led by Louisville Public Media — formed the ReSource to strengthen coverage of the area’s economic transition and the social changes that come with it. Read more here.

Farmers throughout the Ohio Valley want to revive a crop that was once a staple in the region: hemp. After a ban that lasted more than half a century, the 2014 Farm Bill allowed states to grow hemp in research programs. Growers and processors in Kentucky are aggressively putting that research program to work in hopes of winning a share of the booming market for hemp products.

Hemp cooking oil, nutritional supplements, and more line the back wall of a supermarket in Lexington where cashier Emily King rang up a customer’s purchase.

“Tons of people buy hemp oil,” King said. “We have hemp hearts and other products. We’ve definitely seen an increase in hemp product sales.” The store recently wrapped up its first “hemp week” promotion.

Last year, U.S. consumers spent almost $600 million on hemp-based products. Remarkably, American farmers produced almost none of the key ingredient for these items. Hemp must be imported because the U.S. government treats the plant as a Schedule 1 controlled substance — the same category as hemp’s intoxicating cousin, marijuana.

A bipartisan bill before Congress could change that. Co-sponsored by Republican Sens. Mitch McConnell and Rand Paul of Kentucky, and Democratic Sens. Ron Wyden of Oregon and Al Franken of Minnesota, the Industrial Hemp Farming Act would amend provisions of the 2014 Farm Bill to allow hemp to be grown for industrial purposes beyond the current strictly enforced research pilot programs.

“We’ve learned from Kentucky’s farmers that one way to keep our state’s agricultural sector growing is to explore new, viable cash crops for the state,” McConnell and Paul wrote in a column. “This is why we’ve put our support behind expanding industrial hemp research.”

Growing Pains

Kendall Clark, a lifelong farmer in Christian County, Kentucky, said the government’s treatment of hemp is at odds with the plant’s biology.

“You know, industrial hemp, you are making a product that is non-hallucinogenic. It has no psychoactive capabilities whatsoever. Quite frankly, it should be the same as coffee,” Clark said.

Clark’s interest lies mostly in finding a viable crop that doesn’t compete with farmers already struggling in what he says is a saturated market. He pointed out that history shows that hemp is a crop that worked here before. Kentucky was once a leading hemp producer thanks in part to his own family.

“My father and grandfather used to grow hemp in the ’40s, but they grew it for the Navy to make rope with,” Clark said. “Now, we are looking at the nutraceutical and oil seeds and fiber. Right now, I guess you would consider it a niche market, but that niche is going to grow, I think, because we hear too many good results from it.”

Protein powder derived from hemp is a popular ingredient in many consumer products.Nicole Erwin | Ohio Valley ReSource

Protein powder derived from hemp is a popular ingredient in many consumer products.

Clark is betting big on hemp by investing early. But because the plant is still a controlled substance, it’s tough to get financial support from banks or the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

FNB Bank Chief Operating Officer Sally Hopkins said the financing of a hemp production operation would be challenging for any bank due to the uncertainties surrounding the crop.

“There are many unanswered questions that have not been addressed by bank regulators and lawmakers, and that makes it difficult to finance hemp production at this time,” Hopkins said.

hemp-seed-timeline-v4Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

Even routine farm tasks such as seed cleaning become potential legal issues for Clark.

“You put a lot of green material in that grain tank with the seed,” Clark explained. “I’m sitting here thinking, ‘well how are we going to get that out?’”

Ordinarily, he’d pay a company with the necessary equipment to do that sort of work. But that’s not possible with hemp.

“It’s illegal! You can’t take it up to local companies that handle seed because if they touch it they are in violation of umpteen different laws,” Clark said. He had to buy a separate combine and a seed cleaning machine for his hemp.

Clark is able to handle hemp material because he has a special arrangement with the Kentucky Department of Agriculture, or KDA. Kentucky has been more aggressive than most other states when it comes to how it defines a hemp research program. The KDA allows private growers to participate through agreements that effectively make growers agents of the department.

Katie Moyer is the first hemp processor in the state and is Clark’s business partner. She said that even that special agreement with the state does not guarantee a hassle-free process.

“We had permission but then the DEA still seized 130 kilos of seed in Louisville,” Moyer said.

The Drug Enforcement Agency argued that the state’s approach to private growers compromised enforcement. The state fought back in court and won. But now the state agency is responsible for keeping track of the grower’s seeds — every single one.

hemp seeds

Hemp seeds must be imported and closely monitored.

Tracking The Seeds

As seed shipments arrive from abroad, Kentucky Department of Agriculture official Brent Burchett is there to see them documented.

“We are authorized to import them, we have already shared the addresses where that seed is destined to be planted,” Burchett said. “We document the amount of seed to make sure the recipients have gone through background checks. We authorize all that.”

The KDA began its pilot program with 14 growers in 2014. This year, it has 137 growers. The market has grown from just seven states to now 29 states that have approved similar research programs, including most of central Appalachia.

In 1943, the U.S. had 143,000 acres of industrial hemp in production for the war effort, to make rope and sails and other kinds of cordage. Kentucky farmers first grew hemp in 1775. The state went on to lead the nation in hemp production in the mid-19th century, producing 40,000 tons in 1850.

hemp-us-growth-v3Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

Zev Paiss, director of the National Hemp Association, said that history shows hemp’s potential.

“I have spoken to both cotton and tobacco farmers; they are very excited to introduce a crop that is more sustainable. It doesn’t require as much water or pesticides and herbicides,” Paiss said. “It’s just frustrating that we are having to claw our way back. So the research questions are somewhat of a misnomer because we are testing a product that we already know works.”

New Market Taking Root

University of Kentucky Agriculture Economist Will Snell said the research component is critical if U.S. crops are to catch up with an already established international market.

hemp-import-growth-v2Alexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

“There is no doubt that we’ve had a long history of growing the crop,” Snell said. “But we are looking at different crops today. We need more research on the varieties and how they suit certain products out there, we need obviously some research on what equipment use and what inputs and how it will compete favorably.”

Snell said Kentucky’s aggressive, early gamble with the pilot programs could pay off.

“I think the states that have gotten out front with their research programs will have been able to attract processors and develop the infrastructure. I don’t think these processors are going to invest in infrastructure in every one of these 30 states,” he said.

Kentucky is attracting companies like CV Sciences, which has been working with nutraceuticals made from hemp oil for years. The company relies on contracts with farmers in Germany for its supply.

The company’s director of business development for domestic production, Josh Hendrix, said CV will not be renewing 3,000 acres of hemp contracts abroad because they want to invest instead in Kentucky. International clothing company Patagonia has also donated seed to Kentucky farmers to lessen import dependency.

Hemp seedlings on a western Kentucky farm. Joseph Kelly

Hemp seedlings on a western Kentucky farm.

Hendrix said the key in producing more seed domestically is to lower the price of production.

“We’ve got to have a variety that will grow well outdoors, and it has to have minimal input, because we aren’t growing marijuana — we are growing hemp. We want it to be a commodity like corn,” Hendrix said.

But it’s hard to make a commodity crop from a plant the government treats as a criminal. Growers face a host of challenges in both the economic and regulatory areas, affecting access to credit, markets, and basic equipment and services.

Hemp proponents plan a symbolic statement on July 4 to try to get lawmakers to address the uncertainties around the crop. A group of nonprofits will deliver a petition urging Congress to pass the Industrial Hemp Farming Act, legalizing the cultivation of hemp in the U.S.

Along with the petition will be an American flag made of industrial hemp grown in Kentucky by U.S. military veterans — a reminder that the American flag Betsy Ross created was also made from  hemp.

Regulators Forecast High Ozone Levels Saturday Friday, Jun 24 2016 

Rising ozone levels Saturday could result in air that’s unhealthy for sensitive groups.Air quality alert

The Louisville Metro Air Pollution Control District has issued an Air Quality Alert for ozone, saying the air pollution could affect young children, the elderly and people with respiratory ailments like asthma and COPD.

The Air Pollution Control District recommends that on air quality alert days, people take steps to avoid pumping excess pollution into the air.

Regulators suggest taking public transportation, not using gas-powered lawn mowers and combining your errands into one trip.

For real-time air quality information, click here.

Small Sewage Plant Demolition Marks End Of An Era For Louisville Thursday, Jun 23 2016 

Louisville’s last small sewage treatment plant has officially been demolished, marking the end of a nearly four decades long effort to streamline Jefferson County’s wastewater treatment and improve water quality.

Metropolitan Sewer District officials gathered in the southern part of the county Thursday, next to the McNeely Lake Wastewater Treatment Plant. The plant — located in a residential neighborhood — is the last of more than 300 wastewater “package plants” that once dotted Jefferson County. Most were outside of I-264.

MSD's McNeely Lake treatment plant.Courtesy MSD

MSD’s McNeely Lake treatment plant.

“A lot of those systems, not only in terms of age but in terms of technology, were not able to comply with the Clean Water Act, and some of them even caused leaks or issues that were impacting local streams throughout Jefferson County,” said MSD Executive Director Tony Parrott.

For the past forty years, MSD has been steadily eliminating the package plants, rerouting the waste to one of five larger regional wastewater treatment plants. These regional plants are more modern and less prone to leaks and failures. And for individual neighborhoods and watersheds — in this case, the Pond Creek Watershed — there’s less risk to people and the environment.

“This is a big deal for the community simply from eliminating the risk of a major failure here,” said MSD Director of Collection Systems Dennis Thomasson. “The second thing is the chlorine gas — we’re taking chlorine gas out of a neighborhood.”

The McNeely plant was the last of MSD’s treatment plants that used hazardous chlorine gas to disinfect wastewater.

Dennis Thomasson holds two of the patches that were welded to the metal tanks at McNeely to prevent leaks.

Dennis Thomasson holds two of the patches that were welded to the metal tanks at McNeely to prevent leaks.

Thomasson has been with MSD for 26 years and spent his whole career systematically getting rid of one package plant after another. He will retire on August 1. Before an excavator begins tearing at the McNeely plant, he goes and retrieves two small pieces of metal.

“These are patches that we welded on the aeration basin to prevent leaks,” he said. “So, as the metal’s deteriorated, we welded more metal on top of it.”

As temperatures rise, the excavator begins by tearing at a small cinderblock building sitting next to the treatment basins. The building crumbles like it’s made of building blocks.

IMG_6140At a house adjacent to the site, Angie Jones stands with her son, watching the demolition. She’s grown up in the same house, living there since the 1970s. The McNeely Lake plant predates her. She said there are sometimes odors and other inconveniences living next to a sewage package plant.

“Occasionally, here recently since they’ve been doing some work over there, it’s been pretty bad,” she said. “So we’re kind of excited, I guess. But then again, it’s like, it’s been here forever.”

Eliminating the McNeely Lake wastewater treatment plant will cost MSD about $460,000. But overall, officials say upgrading and maintaining the facility would cost much more in the long run.

Google’s Solar Mapping Comes To Louisville Wednesday, Jun 22 2016 

A new Google project to estimate solar potential has come to Louisville.

Last month, in a WFPL story about the extensive information the city collects through Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR), experts talked about the potential to turn the data into solar maps for Louisville. Google’s project doesn’t use LiDAR information, but rather factors like roof space and weather data collected from the company’s vast trove of data.

Project Sunroof debuted a year ago in several large cities, but now has expanded. The tool uses Google’s satellite images to estimate solar potential of any given rooftop in the city — providing estimates of the viable space for panels and the amount of sun the roof soaks up in a given year.

People can look at any rooftop in the city (all you need is an address) and see how much usable sunlight the roof gets, as well as how much space is available for rooftop panels (the latter uses 3D modeling of the roof and nearby trees). Users can input their average monthly electric bill, and Project Sunroof will also recommend a solar installation size. There’s also a breakdown of how much that installation will cost, both immediately and over a 20 year period.

“Through innovative projects like Project Sunroof, Google hopes to make sustainability a reality for many,” said a Google spokesperson.

This kind of information is valuable for property owners considering solar. And in Louisville, which is in the middle of several initiatives to increase sustainability measures, it could help boost solar energy.

If Louisville’s Metro Government is serious about increasing sustainability measures and awareness, Project Sunroof shows several opportunities. Metro Government already has solar panels on the roof of the Metro Development Center (444 S. 5th Street), but several other large city-owned buildings also appear to be good candidates for rooftop solar panels:

•    Metro Hall (527 W. Jefferson Street) has more than 22,000 square feet available for solar panels and gets 1,553 hours of usable sunlight a year;

•    City Hall (601 W. Jefferson Street) has more than 12,000 square feet available for solar panels and gets 1,545 hours of usable sunlight a year;

•    The Hall of Justice (600 W. Jefferson Street) has more than 51,600 square feet available for solar panels and gets 1,576 hours of usable sunlight a year;

•    The Urban County Government Center (810 Barret Ave) has more than 26,600 square feet available for solar panels and gets 1,530 hours of usable sunlight a year.

The Louisville Sustainability Council also launched a solar advocacy program this year, with a goal to add 2 megawatts of solar capacity by the end of the year.

Hot Mess: How Radioactive Fracking Waste Wound Up Near Homes And Schools Monday, Jun 20 2016 

This story is the first from the Ohio Valley ReSource, a journalism partnership that aims to rethink how we use our resources in a shifting economy. With support from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, seven public media outlets in Kentucky, Ohio and West Virginia — led by Louisville Public Media — formed the ReSource to strengthen coverage of the area’s economic transition and the social changes that come with it. Read more here.

The energy that lights up, turns on, cools and heats our lives leaves a trail of waste. Natural gas is no exception. The waste from the gas drilling known as “fracking” is often radioactive. The gas industry produces thousands of tons of this “hot” waste, and companies and state regulators throughout the Ohio River valley and Marcellus Shale gas region struggle to find safe ways to get rid of it.

Last August, a convoy of trucks carrying a concentrated form of this waste traveled from northern West Virginia to Irvine, Kentucky. The small town in Estill County lies near the Kentucky River, where Appalachian hills give way to rolling farm country.

The trucks were headed for a municipal waste facility called Blue Ridge Landfill. Just across Highway 89 from the landfill is the home where Denny and Vivian Smith live on property where their ancestors have lived since the 1800s.

“This is our home place,” Vivian Smith said from her sun porch. “This is roots for us.”

estill-schools-landfill-pointsGoogle Earth

From their sun porch, facing east, the Smiths can see the entrance to Blue Ridge Landfill. From their front door, facing west, they can see Estill County High School and Estill County Middle School, with a combined enrollment of about 1,200 students.

The trucks that arrived in Irvine last summer left more than 400 tons of low-level radioactive waste in a facility that was not engineered or permitted to accept that sort of material. That has left the community, the parents of schoolchildren, and especially the Smiths with a lot of questions and concerns.

“We are getting older, and we feel like we’re kind of vulnerable to illnesses with what’s going on at the landfill,” Vivian Smith said.

The question now reverberating through Irvine and the state agencies investigating the incident: How did this happen?

The answer, in part, lies in the weak federal oversight and patchwork of state regulations regarding this type of waste.

A report from the Center for Public Integrity calls the radioactive waste stream from horizontal oil and gas operations “orphan waste” because no single government agency is fully managing it. Each state is left to figure out its own plan. Ohio, for example, hasn’t formalized waste rules, while New York, which banned fracking, still allows waste disposal “with little oversight,” according to the Center.

Creating Waste While Creating Energy

Antero Resources petroleum engineer Tom Waltz pointed to eight green, 16,000-gallon above-ground storage tanks at the edge of a drilling pad in Doddridge County, West Virginia.

“They hold produced water that the producing wells make,” he explained.

Produced water is one form of drilling waste. It’s salty water laced with chemicals, metals and naturally occurring radioactive elements that come up thousands of feet along with the gas and oil. Antero is the country’s eighth-largest gas drilling company and operates hundreds of sites like this, producing hundreds of thousands of barrels of waste.

The easiest way to get rid of wastewater is to inject it back into the ground, but that can lead to pollution and even earthquakes. One of Antero’s lead civil engineers, Conrad Baston, said processing the wastewater – separating it into salt, sludge, and water – is becoming more attractive.

Frack waste flow chartAlexandra Kanik | Ohio Valley ReSource

No Easy Solutions

Antero is spending $275 million to construct a wastewater facility in West Virginia which is scheduled to begin operation in September, 2017. At its peak, the facility could see up to 600 trucks a day, processing 60,000 barrels of wastewater.

A filtering system would recover about two-thirds of the water, which could be reused in drilling. But that filtration system leaves behind thousands of tons of salt and hundreds of tons of sludge from the sediment, which concentrates the radioactive materials. Baston said that sludge — as much as 180 tons a day — will be disposed of elsewhere.

“Given some of the flux in the regulatory environment with regard to those sludges,” he said, “we’ve elected to take those sludges to a landfill that’s currently licensed to accept it.”

Baston couldn’t say which facilities or where, but he said Antero is exploring options across the country. West Virginia’s Department of Environmental Protection said no approved facilities exist in the state. That would mean the waste will have to cross state lines. An Antero spokesperson said waste from their facility will go only to approved and vetted landfills.

The Center for Public Integrity report shows that regulators acknowledge that this waste is effectively being “shopped around” by companies hoping for affordable disposal. Antero officials maintain that industry has no other choice.

Records filed with the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health show that a company Antero had contracted with to process its wastewater, Fairmont Brine, was the source of the waste that wound up in Blue Ridge Landfill in Irvine, Kentucky. Antero officials said their company is not responsible for how that waste was disposed of. Officials at Fairmont Brine did not respond to requests to comment for this story.

Waiting For Answers

Since The Courier-Journal first reported on the improper dumping of fracking waste in Kentucky, community leaders in Irvine have been asking for answers. The landfill is under investigation by multiple state agencies for accepting the waste.

“Knowing that there was nothing going on to protect us,” Vivian Smith said, “I think it’s like the henhouse was not guarded and the fox got in.”

The Smiths have had their share of illnesses, and they wonder what effect the radioactive waste might have on them or on the children who attend school nearby. This low-level radioactive waste is not as hazardous as the wastes from nuclear power. But according the the Environmental Protection Agency, the radioactive materials in drilling waste do present risks. Radioactive dust is potentially harmful, and it would be bad if the radioactive leachate, or liquid that oozes out from the landfill, were to contaminate groundwater over time. Radioactive waste can last centuries — far longer than the engineered lifespan of the liners in many landfills.

Officials with Blue Ridge Landfill’s parent company, Advanced Disposal, declined to comment while under investigation. The Smiths hope that investigation will shed light on any risks they might be living with because of the hot mess left next door.

Regulators Predict Unhealthy Air Saturday, Sunday And Monday Saturday, Jun 18 2016 

AQalertbuttonLouisville regulators have issued an air quality alert for Saturday, Sunday and Monday, warning that ozone levels will be high enough to be unhealthy for sensitive groups like children, the elderly and people with breathing disorders.

So far, the city’s ozone season hasn’t been off to a great start. The federal standard for ozone was tightened this year, and that combined with heat and stagnant air has meant Louisville has already had nine days that exceeded the standard.

An air quality alert doesn’t necessarily mean ozone levels will top the standard–just that regulators believe there’s a potential for that to happen. The Air Pollution Control District recommends that on air quality alert days, people take steps to avoid pumping excess pollution into the air.

Regulators suggest taking public transportation, not using gas-powered lawn mowers and combining your errands into one trip.

For real-time air quality information, click here.

Annual Ohio River Cleanup Set For Saturday Friday, Jun 17 2016 

An annual six state cleanup of the banks of the Ohio River is scheduled for Saturday.

The Ohio River Sweep extends the entire length of the river, from Pittsburgh to Cairo, Illinois. At the annual event, volunteers collect trash along the shoreline. Jefferson County’s cleanup usually nets about 40 tons of trash.

There are six Louisville area locations for the cleanup:

•    Hays Kennedy Park – 7003 Beachland Beach Road
•    Juniper Beach Area – 5230 Upper River Road (Harrods Creek Fire Station)
•    Carrie Gaulbert Cox Park – 3730 River Road
•    Eva Bandman Park – 1701 River Road
•    Shawnee Park – W Market Street, between Northwestern Parkway and Fontaine Landing Court
•    Riverview Park – 8202 Greenwood Road (Greenwood Road and Cane Run Road)

Louisville MSD, the Louisville Water Company and Louisville Gas & Electric are coordinating the Jefferson County events, which are sponsored by the Ohio River Valley Water Sanitation Commission (ORSANCO). Volunteers will be supplied with gloves, trash bags, and a commemorative T-shirt.

LG&E To Provide Solar Energy Systems For Business, Industrial Customers Thursday, Jun 16 2016 

Louisville Gas and Electric has chosen a solar energy company as a partner in a new effort to offer solar energy to business and industrial customers.

The company selected Kentucky-based Solar Energy Solutions, LLC for the program.

“Ultimately [it’s] going to allow us to build, own and operate individual solar facilities for those business and industrial customers that are interested and we’ll do it right on their properties,” said LG&E spokeswoman Natasha Collins.

The utility company will provide the service for business or industrial customers of any size — Collins says the solar arrays can be anywhere from 30 kilowatts to five megawatts and be mounted on roofs or on the ground. And the power generated by the solar panels will directly provide power to the business.

Each individual solar array is subject to approval from the Kentucky Public Service Commission.

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