SciTalk: Solar Powered Botanical Burritos
Join us on June 16th at 7pm when we present “Solar-Powered Botanical Burritos: Putting Plants to Work to Clean Water and Earn a Harvest” with Paul Kay, volunteer exhibit builder and principal at Rogue Water.
Admission is free with a suggested $5 donation.
ScienceWorks’ Solar-Powered Nursery Exhibit includes innovations in the application of phytotechnologies and photovoltaics. Phytotechnology puts plants to work to clean water, soil, and air. Photovoltiac technology puts sunshine to work to produce electricity.
Phytotechnology and photovoltaic technology are combined to filter irrigation water with a floating wetland nursery. Then, the filtered water is reused to irrigate a second nursery that grows trees and shrubs for restoration of local forests and streambanks. The amount of irrigation water supplied is balanced with demand, without the use of computer controls.
Of course, nature perfected these technologies long ago, and humans are continuing to learn how to make practical tools based on ecological processes.
The exhibit lets us look directly at what’s called the water:energy nexus. That’s a fancy way to say that it costs energy to make (clean) water, and it costs water to make energy. Innovations advanced during the development of the ScienceWorks’ Solar-Powered Nursery allow water to be cleaned for very small inputs of energy. This is especially important when considering that the largest energy expense for most cities is for the treatment of wastewater.
The city of Ashland purchases more than $200,000 of energy per year for that purpose. This is not stated as a criticism of the city’s professionalism in protecting public health and public waters; it is a way of recognizing that it costs each of us more than $10 every year in electricity to clean what goes down our drains.
While that seems like a small price to pay to protect public health and to protect Bear Creek, there are some economic and atmospheric impacts of water treatment on the global scale to consider. Can we do better? How do we measure? What are some simple things we can do to help?
These questions and the Solar-Powered Nursery will be explored at ScienceWorks on Thursday, June 16th. The presentation will begin at 7:00 pm. Informal interpretive tours of the Nursery Dome will begin at 6:00 pm.
The Solar-Powered Nursery Dome was developed in collaboration with Lomakatsi Restoration, Pacific Domes, and several others. It is a sensory treat, and it’s free and open to the public every day.
Paul Kay is the principal of Rogue Water, a developer of innovative technologies and hands-on educational projects that integrate water remediation and nursery production in schools, parks, museums, and farms in Oregon and México.
Paul is an adjunct instructor of ecological horticulture at Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon, and is a long-term collaborator with SPROut - the Sustainable Plant Research and Outreach Center – at the Oregon Garden. He also is a guest instructor at the University of Guanajuato and Crater High School.
Paul was appointed by the Oregon Department of Agriculture to serve the Inland Rogue Basin Agricultural Water Quality Local Advisory Committee. He is a board member of Bear Creek Watershed Education Partners and is a volunteer exhibit builder at ScienceWorks Hands-On Museum.