On Thursday, heavy rains and thunderstorms caused over 100,000 gallons of sewage water to flood the streets of Dallas -- not exactly good news in the middle of a global public health crisis. But other news might soon change how such floods are handled: just three days before the Dallas floods, the Texas Water Development Board took a quiet, but major, step forward in their work to protect Texans from flooding by including nature-based infrastructure in the brand new Flood Intended Use Plan.
The results show nature-based infrastructure is growing across the state. Austin, which received the highest score on the 2017 publication of the scorecard, is now tied with San Antonio in first place, with Harris County close behind. All three local governments have impressive public initiatives, from San Antonio’s citywide watershed modeling and LID planning to Austin’s exemplary education program complete with workshops and manuals. San Antonio is also the only local government with any kind of nature-based infrastructure mandate. Cities including Dallas and El Paso are considering significant nature-based infrastructure mandates, which could cost Austin and San Antonio the top honor unless Austin passes its own proposed nature-based requirements in their Land Development Code rewrite. Governments across the state incorporated incentives for private developers, and many more began public education campaigns, installed nature-based technologies on public projects, or set up projects to evaluate how to best use nature-based solutions in their communities.
Brooke Paup, board member of the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), kicked off a day-long workshop in San Antonio last month to explore how nature-based infrastructure can be used to curb water pollution and flooding. The workshop brought together experts from acoross the state to discuss how Texas can install more rain gardens, green roofs, and other natural strategies for capturing (and using) stormwater - before it causes problems.
I'm proud of the work my team at Environment Texas did this year to protect Texas’ wild places, protect air and water quality, fight global warming and move to a 100% clean economy and more. Here are some of the highlights:
AUSTIN -- Environment Texas Research and Policy Center today called on the state to invest a minimum of 20% of the $793 million dollar Flood Infrastructure Fund in green infrastructure, including rain gardens, urban forests, and mimicked wetlands. Today is the final day for public input on the program.
An analysis of bacteria sampling data from beaches in 29 coastal and Great Lakes states and Puerto Rico reveals that 2,580 beach sites – more than half of all sites tested – were potentially unsafe for swimming on at least one day in 2018, and 546 sites were potentially unsafe at least 25 percent of the days that sampling took place. Sites were considered potentially unsafe if bacteria levels exceeded the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s most protective “Beach Action Value” thresholds, which the EPA suggests states use as a “conservative, precautionary tool for making beach notification decisions,” and are associated with an estimated illness rate of 32 per 1,000 swimmers. (Many states use other thresholds for beach closure and advisory decisions. Therefore, results presented in this report may differ from state reports on beach water quality.) (See Methodology for details.)
LA PORTE, TEXAS - With summer in full swing, Texas beachgoers should beware: It might not be safe to go in the water. Last year, 141 beaches across the state, including Sylvan Beach in La Porte and the Texas City Dike, Retilon Road and Galveston Island State Park #6 - Bayside beaches in Galveston County, had water pollution levels that put swimmers at risk of getting sick on at least one occasion last year, according to a new report by Environment Texas Research and Policy Center. The study, Safe for Swimming?, looked at fecal bacteria levels at a total of 167 beaches across the state.
Texans love the water – especially in the summertime. From South Padre Island to Galveston Bay, and from the San Marcos River to Lake Lewisville, our rivers, lakes and beaches draw thousands of Texans every time the sun is out and the temperature is up.
But many of the waterways where Texans love to play are sometimes too polluted for people to go swimming, tubing, or wading safely. An analysis of water testing data from the Texas Commission
on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) reveals that Texas beaches, rivers and lakes frequently exceed bacteria levels deemed safe under state law, indicating unsafe levels of fecal contamination.
Environment Texas Research and Policy Center is part of The Public Interest Network, which operates and supports organizations committed to a shared vision of a better world and a strategic approach to social change.