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My last blog On The Road To Berlin talked about people I would like to meet left out a few key SAP community members I have networked with, and of course, I was reminded of this a few hours after posting.  I’m happy to hear that Dr. Paul Centen (Director Financial Services, BPX Banking) will be traveling to Berlin for SAP Tech Ed, and with Frauke Hassdenteufel (BPX community manager for industries at SAP) will be arranging for networked video conferencing of events.  Paul and I have already had a few lively dialogues on issues ranging from environmental standards to the wonders of technology.

Also after my last blog was posted I got a link for a recent podcast (8MB – 8 minutes) where I interviewed Chris Crone of the ASUG Board of Directors at the Operations Optimization conference in Nashville the week after SAP TechEd U.S.   Parts of this are topical, but the general views on networking techniques, and Chris’s views on future SAP user community challenges.

And, I’m mentioned a few minutes from the end (25:00 minutes in) of the podcast (8MB – 35 minutes) with Jon Reed and Marilyn Pratt on TechEd Las Vegas review / Berlin preview.  Thanks, Marilyn!   The ASUG conference and Tech Ed Vegas have abandoned the wasteful giveaway of one-serving water bottles.   Marilyn said “green is the new black,” to which I respond “Right On!”.

So that leads into:







I’m going to talk about industrial water use during Community Day at TechEd Berlin, so in the meantime here are a few thoughts on municipal water supplies and discharges.  

SAP is constructing an addition to the Americas headquarters site in Newtown Square near Philadelphia, about a 90 minute drive away for me.  Though this new site has not opened, it promises to contain energy and resource conserving functions; in the meantime the current building contains the first water-free urinals I’ve encountered (not counting the latrines at Scout camps).  I was expecting, well, a nitrogen or other odor, but they are quite practical.  I can’t say I understand the technology, but perhaps some effects should remain a mystery.

The Baltimore Sun has a story this past week (part 1 / part 2) detailing the lack of progress on cleaning the Chesapeake Bay, a large tidal water body (for those not familiar with U.S. geography, where Baltimore City, Washington D.C. and other Virginian cites discharge their wastewater.  Over the past 25-30 years that we have spent large investments building up the infrastructure of treatment plants for municipal waste, the water quality has improved and then degraded.  The article attributes this to 2 major human factors, one being fertilizer and other runoff from homes uses and the other being runoff from animal farms, mainly chicken and hogs.

Our local water supply comes from a couple reservoirs, with spare capacity that takes water from the Susquehanna River, a major feed to the Chesapeake Bay, that winds through New York and Pennsylvania.  Land use around the reservoirs increases the quantities of fertilizer and silt that enters the reservoirs, meaning more work is required to clean it up for domestic use.

I’ve tried to quantify our personal water use online, with the goal of reducing how much water we let flow downstream. We have a high efficiency washing machine; what I need to do is install the shower cut-off valve I bought, and research replacement toilets.  The 2 in our house are over 20 years old, and not up to current standards.  One has a slow leak, small enough to generally ignore, but a nearly constant reminder that we are being wasteful.

When I switch from federal government to state work, one of my first assignments was to investigate an odor leak at a Baltimore City chemical waste processing facility called “American Recovery.” Of course it was raining that day, so I put on my work boots, a rain coat and headed down to Curtis Bay.  My first visit was quite memorable, as a young and enthusiastic government regulator came face-to-face with chemical plant guards, waste facility workers, and what I now realise were ex-workers from larger corporate manufacturing plant.  None were happy tz see me, few were cooperative, and I didn’t seem to be having the impact I was hoping for.

Later, at that site, I met now-Senator Barbara Mikulski, and quietly watched while the plant representatives put on their dog-and-pony show about being small business people, necessary workers in the industrial cycle, etc.

On a subsequent inspection visit (probably also in the rain) I happened to be chatting with a plant worker who, to his later chagrin I’m sure, and I asked what the purpose of a particular pipe-line was in the alleged waste old heater was for.  He nonchalantly said, “oh that’s where we pour the aniline dye” and I then realized I was looking at a chemical waste incinerator, not the heating device as it had been portrayed.  I was able to initiate action to get that unregulated and highly dangerous operation shut down.  Greenpeace also visited the site, though I fortunately avoided getting between them and the surly plant workers.  The story was that they tried to plug the wastewater discharge pipe (a story for another time) and couldn’t do it, but managed to scale the non-functional water tower and spray-paint “Recover The Bay”.  The place has since been leveled, although the tower still stands I think.

I’ll stop now with a book recommendation.  Though I’ve not yet read “Hot, Flat and Crowded” by Thomas Friedman, it’s on my short list when I get back from Germany. I didn’t fell like carting a 450 page hardback book across the Atlantic.

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