From driveways to watersheds

  • Water graphic

    Toni Evans
  When oil became scarce in the 1970s, New Mexico's solar industry quickly boomed and then busted. State tax subsidies had helped sell complicated new systems that sometimes didn't work, and by the mid-80s many people ditched their solar designs. In an effort to rebuild its solar industry, the New Mexico Natural Resources Department has published a colorful and easy-to-read 48-page book, The New Mexico Home Solar: A Source Book, written by Ingrid Kelley. Kelley says what endured were simpler passive solar designs that save both energy and money, and her guide introduces home-builders to these time-tested techniques. She describes how to make bricks from newspaper and walls from tires as well as traditional adobe techniques and how to choose a site and work with building codes. Photos and simple illustrations accompany her descriptions, and a glossary of building terms runs alongside the text. The final pages contain a list of solar building organizations, workshops, videos and a bibliography. To receive a free copy, write the Cooperative Extension Service, New Mexico State University, Box 3AE, Las Cruces, NM 88003 (505/646-3425).Suburbs and ranchettes sprouting across the Western landscape often add pollution to already burdened watersheds. Residential pollution sources include oil, pesticides, and fertilizers washed off driveways and yards. The University of Nevada Cooperative Extension in Reno has launched an effort to reduce nonpoint pollution of the Truckee River by educating residents about sources of pollution and ways to conserve water. A 64-page, graphic-packed booklet, Protecting Our Water Resources, provides detailed explanations of how property owners can help maintain good water quality through careful use of pesticides and fertilizers, landscaping to control erosion, maintaining septic systems, and protecting wetlands. A special section addresses one- to 10-acre ranchettes. "We're all part of the problem," says author John Cobourn, "and can all be part of the solution."

Free copies of Protecting Our Water Resources can be obtained from the University of Nevada Cooperative Extension, Box 8208, Incline Village, NV 89452 (702/784-4848).

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