Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Earth Month: DEQ Helps Businesses Be Green, Stay Green

By: Paul Harding

DEQ provides businesses with information
on ways they can reduce waste
through pollution prevention practices
Increasingly, businesses are integrating environmental sustainability practices into their long-term strategies. They find that sustainability is not only good for the environment, it’s good for their bottom line.

So what does environmental sustainability look like for businesses? It can mean reducing waste, cutting energy use, or recycling materials.

I work in DEQ’s Business Assistance Program. Our program ensures the ongoing protection of the environment by assisting Utah businesses with proper permitting and compliance as well as pollution prevention and sustainable business strategies.

What is pollution prevention (P2)? It’s about reducing or eliminating pollution at the source so it doesn’t enter the environment in the first place. Instead of managing pollution after it has been created or exits into the environment at the "end of the pipe," P2 focuses on eliminating waste first. If the waste can't be eliminated, we try to identify ways to reduce either the amount or toxicity of the waste. If the waste can't be eliminated or reduced, then we recommend ways to reuse the waste. After eliminating, reducing, or reusing the waste, businesses can look at the final option, which is recycling.

Our assistance program helps businesses come up with strategies for pollution prevention and the efficient use of raw materials, energy, water, and other natural resources. We provide businesses with a variety of resources, including:
We also offer personal meetings and onsite consultations. Businesses that implement these strategies lessen their environmental impacts and reduce the cost associated with resources, production, and compliance, giving them a competitive advantage.

Let me give you one example of a Utah business that benefited from incorporating sustainability into their business plan. Orbit Irrigation Systems, a Davis County-based company, approached us a few years ago to help them establish a sustainability program at their facility. As a supplier to Walmart, Orbit Irrigation wanted to step up its efforts after participating in Walmart’s "Sustainable Product Index Survey." The survey asked the company to measure their sustainability in four areas:
  • Energy and climate
  • Natural resources
  • Material efficiency
  • People and community
DEQ Business Assistance (Frances Bernards, r.)
at this year's Intermountain Sustainability Summit
We helped Orbit improve their score on the survey almost immediately by providing them with the tools to identify and quantify the significant sustainability measures they had already incorporated into their operations. Our program provided additional resources which helped Orbit create and implement new programs to improve the company’s sustainability performance. We profiled Orbit’s development of a sustainability program in one of our Key Step guides.

I look forward to Earth Day every year. It’s an opportunity to celebrate accomplishments in environmental protection and to refocus on challenges and initiatives to do even more. The theme for Earth Day 2015 is “it’s our turn to lead”. I have been fortunate to work with a number of Utah businesses who are already leaders in sustainable business practices and protecting the environment. My hope is that more Utah companies will join these leaders by recognizing that what is good for the environment is also good for business.

Want to see more Utah business environmental success stories? Check out Clean Utah, our voluntary program for businesses that encourages and rewards companies that go “above and beyond” for the environment. If your business is interested in becoming a Clean Utah member — a great way to celebrate Earth Day — visit our website and fill out an application today! If you have any questions or would like more information, feel free to get in touch with me at 801-536-4108.

I am a Utah native, and I graduated from BYU with a degree in geology. I've worked at DEQ for 21 years, the first 15 in the Underground Storage Tank Program and the last six in the Office of Planning and Public Affairs in Business Assistance. I live with my husband, Brett, and our three dogs: Sarge, Frankie, and Bernie. In my spare time you can find me at the gym, cycling, or hanging out with friends and family at home. I have a passion for landscape design and love spending time in my yard, and I am particularly fond of my Zen garden.



Monday, April 13, 2015

DEQ: New Interactive Map Offers New Features, More Information

By: Harold Sandbeck

Ever wonder if there are any hazardous waste sites near your home? Questions about where air monitors are located? Debating about whether you should eat that cutthroat trout you just caught in your favorite fishing hole because you’re not sure if it contains high levels of mercury? Maybe you have a question about a chemical spill near your office. Where can you go to find this information easily and quickly?

Beginning April 14, 2015, the new DEQ interactive map will be available to answer all those questions and more. The new map, over a year in the making, is designed to be user-friendly and comprehensive, offering location-based information for everything from permits to Superfund sites. You can access it from your desktop computer or mobile device down to tablet size, making it a convenient application when you’re on-the-go.

Not sure how to get started? We have training videos that will guide you every step of the way. But let’s take a quick tour right now so you can see all that the map has to offer.

Map Controls

When you open the map, you will see five map controls at the top left of your screen. Use the “Plus” sign to zoom in and the “Minus” sign to zoom out. The next button reveals the map-reference layers, where you can search by land ownership, hydrologic units, even township and range. You can also choose the look of your base map: topographic, streets, terrain, or a “lite” map that is clean and easy to read. Next is the measure tool. You can select a polygon option that lets you hone in on a particular area, a line option that lets you measure distance, or a point option for a specific location. You can even change measurement units, say from miles to acres, even longitude and latitude. The last button lets you save your search results as a printable PDF document.

Map Search Options
On the top right-hand side of the map screen, you will find two search options. If you click on “Select Query Layers,” you will be taken to a dropdown menu that includes the division program layers. If you used the old map, you will notice that the new map contains more divisions and more query layers for each division. Each program layer has a question mark next to it that describes the program. You can hover over the question mark for a summary, or click on it to go directly to the program description on the DEQ website.

Next you will need to input your search criteria. You can search by address, city, statewide, or county. You can even use the shape option to draw a shape, a line, or a buffer distance around your area of interest. Once you put in your query layers and search criteria and hit “Search,” you will be taken to a map that shows your results.

Search Capabilities

Once you have your map with your search results, you can dig a little deeper. If you selected underground storage tank releases in Sandy City, for example, you would see the tank releases in that search area. Below the map, you’ll find a grid with the search results. Click on “Underground Storage Tanks” to see the details of the releases. You can select a particular release by clicking on the box next to it. There you will find the site attributes. Under “Attributes,” you can select “Related Documents” to view all the documents for the release. The “Links” selection allows you to access scanned site documents, fill out a GRAMA request, or access any additional information.

You can download and export your results by selecting your format and clicking “Process Download.” If you want to conduct another search, simply click “Clear Search” and begin again.

More Information, Improved Access

For several years, DEQ’s Interactive Map has helped meet the needs of the public for environmental information, and we are excited to offer even more map features and functionalities. We will continue to add more documents and update the map as we get new data or if circumstances change. DEQ is dedicated to providing the public with information in an easy-to-use format, and we are happy to offer this new map to provide the public with improved access to our documents.

We hope that beginning April 14, 2015, you will try out our new Interactive Map ! Feel free to contact us at 801-536-4400 if you have any comments or feedback about the map. If you can’t find what you’re looking for on the map, you can fill out a GRAMA request, either through the map or from our website.

I graduated from the University of Utah in 1986 with a BS in Geophysics. I started working at DEQ in 1990. I was hired as a scientist in the Division of Environmental Response and Remediation (DERR) CERCLA (Superfund) program, but quickly became the in-house guru for GIS software and products (including the DEQ Interactive Map), eDocs Documentum, and EZ Search. I provide support and assistance with multiple DERR databases. On my days off, I try to get outdoors as much as possible, and since my son got a job at the University of Utah Athletics Department I am a diehard Ute fan, go UTES!!



Monday, April 6, 2015

Earth Month: UCAIR and Chevron Team Up for Gas-Can Exchange

By: Angie Koford

Editor’s note: April is Earth Month at DEQ. We’ve invited guest bloggers to share their thoughts on the ways individuals, businesses, governments, and universities can contribute to making our world a little greener.

Warmer spring temperatures make me want to spend my weekends working in the yard. Time to get out the lawn equipment — which means it’s time to get out the gas cans. But wait! Did you know that a portable gas can emits chemicals that are harmful to you and your family, especially if you have young children, elderly people, or individuals with asthma in your household? That storing gas cans in the garage isn’t recommended because it allows toxic gasoline vapors into your house?

The Utah Clean Air Partnership (UCAIR) is committed to improving Utah’s air quality and reducing harmful emissions. That’s why we’ve teamed up with Chevron to hold a four-county gas-can exchange event on Saturday, April 11, 2015. Residents who come to the event can exchange their old, empty gas cans for a FREE environmentally friendly can. 

Beginning in 2009, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) required emission standards for gas cans. These new standards have lowered volatile organic compound (VOC) and harmful carcinogenic emissions from portable gas cans by 75 percent.

Gas cans release VOCs in a number of ways:
  • Vapors permeate the walls of containers
  • Fumes escape while fuel is being dispensed
  • Fuel can spill as it is being poured into equipment. 
  • Secondary vent holes allow spills and gas evaporation.
  • Inadequately capped spouts allow gas evaporation.

The new containers prevent these releases through the following features:
  • Automatic shut-off feature prevents overfilling.
  • Automatic closing feature seals the can when not in use, prevents vapor leaks, and protects children from accidental spills and ingesting gasoline.
  • Secondary venting holes are eliminated so fumes won't vent into the air.
  • Thicker walls reduce vapor permeation.

The Gas Can Exchange Program is the first of its kind in Utah and will help our state come into compliance with the EPA standard. Making this small change can have a large impact on our air quality. We hope to see you there!

The UCAIR gas-can exchange event will be held on April 11th from 9:00 AM to 3:00 PM at the four locations listed below. Please empty any gas in your can into your gas-powered equipment before you bring it to the exchange. If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at

Provo Towne Center Mall
1200 Towne Center Blvd.
Provo, UT 84601

Chevron (north parking lot at the station)
300 W 2100 South
Salt Lake City, UT  84115

1855 Skyline Drive
Ogden, UT  84403

Davis Landfill
1997 E 3500 North
Layton, UT  84040

I am the Project Coordinator for UCAIR. I have a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Weber State. I have been married for 16 years and have three children. My husband and I enjoy our beautiful mountains in Utah and traveling other places on adventures together.