This blog reports events and interesting tidbits from Rensselaer, Indiana and the surrounding area.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Gas Department Open House 2011

On Tuesday afternoon the city gas department held another open house. I went early (I was the first to sign in!) and was followed by quite a number of other older people.
One of the messages that the gas department wanted to get across is that if you are doing any digging in your property, you should call 811 and have the area in which you are digging checked for gas, water, electrical, telephone/cable, and sewer lines. They had on display a gas pipe that had been ruptured by someone who did not call. They said that it was raining when this one was ruptured or else it might have been a lot uglier.
There were a number of other exhibits available as well. The Northwest Indiana Solid Waste District, which is headquartered in Monticello and serves Newton, Jasper, Benton, White, Pulaski, and Carroll counties, was there with free recycled toothbrushes. (It is not what you think--the toothbrushes were made of recycled #5 plastic, so when you are done with it, you can recycle it again. At least you could if Rensselaer recycled #5 plastics.)

They also showed the life cycle of a pop bottle. It goes to the bottling plant not as the big bottle on the right, but as the much smaller bottle with the blue cap below. The smaller bottle is then expanded to become the big bottle--it is much easier to ship the smaller bottles if they are empty. When the bottles are recycled, they become pellets, shown at the bottom of the bottle on the left. These bits are then made into other things, such as the stuffed horse at the far left.
The Solid Waste District holds occasional pick-up days on which people can get rid of the things that you are not supposed to put in the trash. They do not have anything to do with the recycling that the city of Rensselaer does except for the electronics recycling, which they subsidize. (There are valuable things in the recycled electronics, but there are also things that are not valuable and cost to dispose of properly. The lady at the booth said that if you get paid to recycle electronics, it probably means that the recycling is not done properly.)

The city electric department had a display showing how much electricity was used by various types of bulbs. The bulb that is on is a LED bulb, which may be the future of lighting. It used only about 12% as much electricity as an incandescent bulb to produce the same light and it has a very long lifetime. You can rush out and buy one at Kirby Risk, but it will cost you $35. You will not save enough electricity to ever make that a cost-effective decision, but given some time the technology should mature and get cheaper.
They also had some of the spiral florescent bulbs which also use less electricity than the incandescent but which are not as energy efficient as the LEDs. However, their lives are shortened by repeated on-off cycles and they are full of toxic chemicals. I predict that eventually they will be banned, but until then you may be forced to buy them. It will soon be illegal to sell the 100-watt incandescents, but there still is time to stock up.

I asked the electrical people what the large pile of poles kiddy corner on Vine and Cullen was for. It has been there for several weeks. I learned that the city electrical department was ready to start putting in a new connection between the city power plant and the substation on north Melville. It will come up Cullen to Elm, and then east to Melville. It will be a 69K (volt?) line--the present connection is only 7.2K.
On another table the city had four books of showing four different construction projects that are in the works. The one that will begin the soonest (next week) is the connecting of side-street storm drains to the Melville Street storm sewer line. This initial stage of connection will only go a block out from Melville.
The second project being planned was a renovation of the water treatment plant next to Iroquois Park. There will not be a lot to see with this project because almost all the work will be inside. The project will replace and upgrade pipes and electrical systems that have suffered corrosion from he humidity and chemicals. As part of the project, the mostly unused softball field in the park will be removed--that may be the most visible change.

A third project is a sewer line from the I-65 area to the sewage plant. The line will run down 850W to Bunkum, then east along Bunkum until it will finally pass under the river. This will not get started until 2012. The final project on display was the Austin Park project, which will be put out for bids in May.

(Speaking of projects, one under way now is a resurfacing of some of the roads in Weston Cemetery. I also heard indirectly that the lift-station renovation was funded with grants and has already begun to save the city money.)

Not only was the open house full of information, but it also had free hotdogs, chips, and cake. For both reasons I hope this will become an annual event.

Update: I was mistaken on the toothbrush. You are supposed to save the package, and when done with the toothbrush you use the package to mail it back to the manufacturer. This seems to me, a person who recycles a lot more than the average guy, to be to be recycling gone insane, the triumph of symbolism over reality.

Update 2: I forgot to mention that they had door prizes. Also, the department wants to make this an annual event. Its major purpose is to promote the idea that you need to check for what is buried underground before you dig. And finally (I hope) workers were moving the poles mentioned above, but a person at the gas department thought they route was down Merritt, not Elm. We should find out very soon.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

This was very interesting, Bob. Thank you for attending this event and for sharing.