DEQ partnership will provide affordable loans for failing septic systems in Oregon

An onsite septic system at a country home in Oregon.

An affordable loan program is again available for homeowners and small businesses in Oregon to repair or replace failing septic systems. Fixing or replacing failing septic systems benefits Oregonians by protecting public health and addressing threats to water quality.

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality and regional nonprofit lender Craft3 are teaming up to make Craft3’s Clean Water Loans available throughout the state. The Oregon Legislature approved $2 million for the program in the last session and Craft3 began accepting loan applications on Nov. 1, 2021.

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Recognizing DEQ Veteran Paul Seidel for 22 years of service with U.S. Coast Guard

Nov. 11 is Veteran’s Day, and DEQ thanks and honors our many staff who served and are still serving Oregon and the U.S. Today we are spotlighting Paul Seidel, Northwest Region Cleanup Manager, who recently retired from the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve after 22 years of service.

Ret. Commander Paul Seidel posing with his U.S. Coast Guard “shadow box” at the Oregon Department of Oregon.

As an officer in the U.S. Coast Guard Reserve, Paul Seidel has played active roles responding to major events, from the 9/11 terrorist attacks to the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Seidel, DEQ’s Northwest Region Cleanup Manager, says his time in the service helps keep his day job in perspective.

“I think I’m the only person at DEQ who has ever called for air support on an oil slick,” he said with a chuckle during a recent interview. “We called for two C-130s loaded with oil dispersants, and they took care of it.”

Paul said he decided to join the reserve “kind of late in life” after hearing a recruitment ad on the radio while working in Seattle. (“Those ads sometimes work!”) His father, who passed away this year, was a Korean veteran, something that Paul had always admired. He wasn’t entirely satisfied with the job he had at the time, so he did a little research and headed over to visit with a Coast Guard recruiter.

“Three months later, I’m shipped off to boot camp in Cape May, New Jersey.” He recalls a late night bus ride to the base and the “quintessential experience” of off-loading with a bunch of other sleepy-eyed recruits while “the drill sergeant just lays into you. They start working you over then and there.”

His first activation was immediately after 9/11. There were concerns that the Northwest energy infrastructure (waterfront Oil terminals) might be subject to attack. Paul drove to various sites to check their security systems. “The patrols were shore side, not water side. We were in a minivan rather than small boats.”

Less than 1 percent of Americans have military service experience, Paul noted, adding that he gained a keen perspective on leadership during his time in the reserve. At one point during the Deepwater Horizon incident, he was handed the reins to the cleanup work on Grand Isle as the section planning chief.

President Obama visited the scene, as did U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer of California, who promptly requested that the incident command double the booms he had ordered around an island that was home to a heron rookery. Paul took care of her request.

“You never know when you’re going to be in a situation where no one more senior is around and you need to be in charge,” he said. “You never know when you are going to have to provide leadership.”

–Harry Esteve, communications manager

Episode 4 – Recycling Transformation in Oregon

DEQ is working to make recycling in Oregon way easier! This month’s #GreenState podcast from @OregonDEQ is about the Recycling Modernization Act. #listenup #airlandwater #Oregon

DEQ’s most recent podcast is on the Plastic Pollution and Recycling Modernization Act. Do you feel like you’re not sure what can actually be recycled? Where is all that recycling going? Is it just being thrown away? What about the people making all this packaging – shouldn’t they be contributing to the solution?

DEQ had the same questions and now there’s a solution – the Recycling Modernization Act. This new law will overhaul Oregon’s outdated recycling system by building on local community programs and leveraging the resources of producers to create an innovative system that works for everyone in the state. This comprehensive update puts Oregon at the forefront of recycling innovation once again. We talked to DEQ staff who are figuring out how to make this law a reality, as well as folks from Metro, Washington County, Rogue Waste and New Seasons Market to get their perspectives on what this law will mean for Oregonians.

Listen to the podcast on: SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

SHOW NOTES

  • Introduction
  • Background on Recycling Modernization Act [2:00]
  • Why this matters – discussion with DEQ staff about the new bill [3:10]
  • A statewide list of what is recyclable [5:45]
  • Producers contribute to the cost of making recycling easier [7:00]
    • Athena Petty with New Seasons Market talks about being a producer [9:00]
  • Making recycling more accessible and equitable [11:00]
  • Discussion with Metro, Washington County and Rouge Waste [15:45]

Get more information about the Recycling Modernization Act online at RecyclingAct.oregon.gov or check out the fact sheet below.

Oregon awards Oregon Green Schools $10,000 grant

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality has awarded Oregon Green Schools $10,000 to help the nonprofit transition from a fully volunteer organization to establishing a more formal structure, including a small, paid professional staff. This shift will strengthen and expand OGS’s activities with schools across the state.

Photos: Students complete the Oregon Green Schools Green lunchroom audit to better understand food waste.

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DEQ staff spotlight on Lynda Viray, in honor of Filipino American History Month

Lynda Viray, taking a selfie, social distancing and enjoying coffee on vacation.

Filipino Americans make up one of the largest ethnic groups in the United States with nearly 20,000 residing in the State of Oregon. Every October we celebrate Filipino heritage to increase awareness of the significant role Filipinos have played in American history.

We had the opportunity to talk to Lynda Viray, someone who knows first hand about Filipino American heritage, to learn about her role at the Oregon Department of Quality, her background and what makes her tick. Lynda’s story is a reminder of the social, cultural, intellectual and economic contributions of Filipino Americans in the nation and Oregon.

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New “Bad Apple” campaign helps Oregonians save money by keeping foods fresher, longer

Spoiled food is costing Oregon households real money. In fact, every year the average household loses $1,600 by throwing away spoiled food. And while many people are already taking steps to reduce food waste, research funded by the Oregon Department of Environmental Quality found that 85% of Oregon households agreed they could do more to reduce food spoilage.

Continue reading “New “Bad Apple” campaign helps Oregonians save money by keeping foods fresher, longer”

Fire clouds: Pyrocumulus, firenados and more

Smoke from the Bootleg fire can be seen from Sprague River Road. The Bootleg fire, located approximately 27 miles northeast of Klamath Falls, Oregon, ignited on July 6, due to an unknown cause. Currently at 227,234 acres, It is the largest wildfire in the United States. The fire now stretches for 31 miles and grows about two or three miles a day. There are approximately 2000 firefighters combating the fire, which is at 7 percent containment. Photo by Dan Morrison

The sight of a pyrocumulus cloud just makes your jaw drop.

“You go, ‘Oh my, wow,’ ” Peter Brewer, wildfire smoke coordinator for the Oregon Department says in a bonus episode of GreenState.

Pyrocumulus clouds form over wildfires and can tower thousands of feet into the sky. Smoke is a main ingredient. Learn more about these fire clouds, as well as pyrocumulonimbus and firenados in the bonus episode.

Firenados are tornado-like twisters born in the weather generated by a massive blaze, says Ryan Sandler, warning coordination coordinator for the National Weather Service in Medford. He notes that the term isn’t in official weather vocabulary.

“The firenado is actually connected and spinning with the pyrocumulus clouds,” he says.

Toppled trees in the aftermath of a “firenado” at the Bootleg Fire east of Klamath Falls in summer 2021. Photo credit: National Weather Service

The Bootleg Fire east of Klamath Falls this summer produced pyrocumulus and photos show that there likely was a firenado.

Depending which way winds are blowing, smoke in the clouds produced by a fire may lower air quality near or far away from the flames, Sandler says.

“If a city happens to be downwind you’re going to get a lot of smoke.”

Smoke from the Bootleg Fire rose into jet streams, which carried it and other smoke from wildfires around the West as far away as the East Coast. So, a pyrocumulus cloud in Oregon contributed to hazy July days in New York City.

– Dylan Darling, DEQ public affairs specialist

Smoke from the Bootleg Fire in Oregon and other wildfires around the West shrouded New York City in haze in late July 2021. Photo credit: National Weather Service

Bonus Pods!

Every once in a while, a particular part of a story will catch our interest. When we thing you will also find it interesting, we make a Bonus Pod.

Listen to the podcast on: SoundCloud, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Spotify, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts.

List of Bonus Pods by date (most recent first):

Fire Clouds – 09.28.2021

In the course of talking with Ryan Sandler at the National Weather Service, we learned about pyrocumulus clouds – or fire clouds. These unique clouds form over wildfires and can tower thousands of feet into the sky. Smoke is a main ingredient. Learn more about these fire clouds, as well as pyrocumulonimbus and firenados in the bonus episode.

Bootleg Fire column. Photo Credit: Lisa Chambers

SHOW NOTES

  • Introduction
  • Crazy scene, as described by DEQ’s Peter Brewer [2:30]
  • How cumulus clouds become pyrocumulus clouds [4:05]
  • Pyrocumulonimbus thunderhead produced by a fire [5:00]
  • Firenados and fire whirls [6:15]
  • Plume-dominated fire [7:30]
  • Fire clouds and air quality [9:10]

DEQ receives EPA’s 2021 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award

Lisa Cox (Oregon Department of Environmental Quality) and Brittney Wendell (Pollution Prevention Resource Center)

The Oregon Department of Environmental Quality is a recipient of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s 2021 Safer Choice Partner of the Year Award. EPA’s announcement of the 33 award winners on Sept. 22 coincides with Pollution Prevention Week. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the design, manufacture, promotion and use of environmentally friendly products in homes, schools and businesses. Awardees were selected for active and exemplary participation in and promotion of the product certification and labeling program.

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What it’s like to be ‘othered’

The harsh part of growing up as a minority is growing up not knowing that your background makes you an “other.” You could spend your whole life not knowing that you’re being treated differently, that you’re even different to begin with. You’re just you. It can take a long time to understand the full ramifications of that.

Continue reading “What it’s like to be ‘othered’”