Have thoughts on how Austin can become a more sustainable community? Share them here!
Greywater harvesting for landscape irrigation has been proved to not only be safe, but also an effective and smart way to reduce water need in a significant way. Allow and encourage greywater systems to be installed in old construction and new construction alike, and seperate meters for outgoing water and incoming water so that there is a financial incentive to impliment such a system. Arizona requires greywater stub outs to be installed in any new buildings to facilitate future greywater harvesting. I like that idea too.
Also, stop using chloramine - its killing my plants
Austin Citizen Richard Shultz has devised a way to improve CapMetro's service with CMT - Cellular Mass Transit www.CMT4Austin.org which uses the existing fleet, adds smaller capacity vans, organizes the whole system into a demand based methodology. The result - service to all of austin, from anywhere to anywhere, less than 10 minute wait time, less than half current trip times, doubling ridership, cutting taxpayer subsidy in half, costing less than 10% of the proposed $1.7 billion to install and $27 million per year to operate Urban Rail system which would reach only 2% of Austin and attract only 1,130 new riders. Wouldn't you rather have CMT which we can afford and which would serve everyone rather than a select few? Contact CapMetro Board at firstname.lastname@example.org and urge them to embrace and implement CMT now.
In the past few months, communities throughout Texas have said no to big coal. San Antonio announced plans in June to close its Dealy coal plant by 2018 (1).1 And the Lower Colorado River Authority indefinitely delayed a decision on selling water to the White Stallion coal plant (2).
But the City of Austin is still getting electricity from the dirty Fayette coal plant.
As part owner of the Fayette plant, it is time for city-owned Austin Energy to step up and follow the lead of other Texas cities in setting a timeline to shut down the plant, which has been harming Austin residents for decades.
According to a recent study, pollution from this filthy coal plant causes an estimated 37 deaths, 55 heart attacks and 760 asthma attacks each year (3). The Fayette plant also uses more than 5 billion gallons of water each year and costs the City of Austin an estimated $200-$300 million annually in healthcare costs (4).
In addition to the water use and public health impacts, this pollution from the Fayette coal plant is also devastating to wildlife. As the Associated Press reported last year, the area surrounding the Fayette plant is a "vegetative wasteland" where "trees are barren or covered in gray, dying foliage and peeling bark." Scientists blame sulfur dioxide pollution from the Fayette plant (5).
Communities across Texas, like San Antonio and Bay City, are shutting down existing coal plants and rejecting proposals to build new ones. It's time for Austin to join them by ending the city's reliance on dirty coal.
Tell the Austin City Council: Stop getting our city's electricity from the Fayette coal plant.
1. San Antonio to Shutter Coal Plant, KUT News, June 20, 2011
2. August 10 LCRA Board meeting canceled after White Stallion water contract pulled from agenda, Lower Colorado River Authority, August 3, 2011
3. Death and Disease from Power Plants, Clean Air Task Force
4. How Dirty & Dangerous is Austin's Coal Plant?, Austin Post, February 16, 2011
5. Fayette Power Project, Coal Plant, Blamed For 'Environmental Catastrophe', Associated Press, December 28, 2010
Offer a free rain barrel to any restaurant that wants one, with the understand that they will dump all the leftover water from the water glasses of patrons who didn't finish drinking it. This water can be used to irrigate their own plants, or any city-maintained spaces around their restaurant.
I just got back from lunch, never could have finished that huge glass of water I was given, and wished it could have gone to the strip of brown grass next to the sidewalk out front. It will improve the curb appeal of their restaurant, and keep perfectly good water from going down the drain.
Instead of just band-aiding the minor stuff.
Let's put together a comprehensive, all-inclusive plan. Austin's problems, homelessness, lack of organization, drug use/chronic drug disorders, and joblessness are directly due to "deviation", "little set standards", and "weak standards" as a whole.
There's a seemingly small deviation from what needs and must be done, and what is really being done there is an even larger deviation that becomes readily apparent. The deviation is large and complex but needs to be cultivated.
The solution is a set of standards that must be in place and, or really, is just not in place. Readily apparent by the economy today and Texas’ economy for about the last ten years.
And those that are in place – requirements (lots of them), in internal city policies and procedures, set procedures for the private sector, and countless job solicitations trying to attract the right person on the job in a joblessness economy just aren't really cutting the mustard. There wrong because there not right and doing very little but taking up an unimaginable amount of space. Less is more.
They’re really just weak standards that are in place. The overall goal to eradicate? How about going back to the drawing board one time and trying to provide a fundamental arena for correct brainstorming that can be capitalized off of. There is no cost or charge of a monetary item that’s just going to take care of it (our dilemmas that is). Those day's are over of wishing it on a receipt. Muscling through it, that's what will get it done and make life better. And it is about getting it done I’m sure. And that has to be done for free, I'm convinced. Gone are the days when a budgetary alignment or monetary stipend will take care of it or booboo it together for the next guy in charge. My example exists as the number of seconds in a year for budgetting purposes. There’s always been the same amount of seconds in a year. And we're all getting paid by the hour.
I stress there's no money out there that is going to substitute for basic human intervention and key risk assessment. If it must start with a pen and a paper then that's it. There almost free. And sticking to it until the brainstorming ideas are complete, that’s the key. Taking an idea and capitalizing off of it through the whole design undertaking giving way and having faith in the ideas from the brainstorming section in the first as having merit. Just slow and steady (steady most of all). It just a really big picture.
Keep Austin Awesome
11109 Sage Hollow Dr
Austin, Texas 78758
"Ban the Bottle" initiatives have been proposed and enacted all over the world, yet it's doubtful we're likely to do the same in Austin and I'm something of a realist. The costs to individuals, their health & the environment are high in terms of the money spent on the purchase of these products and the expense of their proper disposal, or worse the pollution their inputs and outputs leave behind.
In today's economic uncertainty it would make sense for the City of Austin to enact a tax of at least $.05 per bottle purchased to discourage the purchase of bottled water and other drinks packaged this way. The benefits of such a plan are many. Consider the following:
1) The recommended eight glasses of water a day, at U.S. tap rates equals about $.49 per year; that same amount of bottled water is about $1,400.
2) It takes 17 million barrels of oil per year to make all the plastic water bottles used in the U.S. alone. That's enough oil to fuel 1.3 million cars for a year.
3) In 2007, Americans consumed over 50 billion single serve bottles of water; between 30 and 40 million single serve bottles went into landfills each year.
With these points in mind, a per-bottle tax would generate much needed revenues for the city to use not just in waste management services, but could also be used for other projects like the maintenance and replacement of our aging municipal water infrastructure, and the protection and enhancements of existing sources of municipal water.
Additionally, taxing single use plastic bottles would discourage the purchase and consumption of unhealthy sodas, while at the same time encourage the utilization of multiple use water bottles. This is a healthy alternative that also saves the consumer money that could be otherwise saved or spent in the local economy, further boosting tax revenues from goods and services purchased here and spurring further job creation. Think about point #1 above again. If I could put $1400 in your pocket today, what would you spend it on? If you can answer that question, the minor inconvenience of switching to multiple-use drinking bottles is definitely worth at least $1400 to each year, not to mention benefits in your health, the environment, the local economy and municipal services.
Vote for this and write what you would spend your $1400 on in the comments section below.
We're experiencing a record breaking drought that is threatening not only Austin's ecosystem, but also our economy. The lack of rain, the intense heat and the length of time these conditions persist all have long term consequences for what make our city and region a great place to live, work and play.
Currently, this requirement only kicks in during Stage 2 of Austin's water restriction rules. This requirement should be changed to take immediate and permanent effect, even when we aren't experiencing drought conditions. With a policy like this, restaurant owners can save money by using less water, and expend less on payroll, energy and water to clean the glasses, many of which go unused by patrons.
Agriculture is also under a costly strain due to the lack of water. The state of Texas has already lost $5.2 Billion and is on track to lose billions more in lost crops, ranch and dairy production. A policy like this would help businesses, farmers, ranchers and put less of a strain on our water resources and sensitive ecosystem.
Water is our most crucial resource!
So many places are offering compost / organic waste collection via dedicated bins or sections of trash bins (see attached image from Ottawa). While many of us compost at home, it's kind of a hassle and many people won't take the time to do it.
But, if there's a dedicated bin or section of existing bins for organic waste, a lot more people would make the small effort to separate their garbage. It seems like a little thing but just see how much of your total garbage bag is organic waste that could be diverted from a landfill and even used as a fuel source in a bio-energy plant.
At the very least I feel that we could start a smaller pilot program and let people sign up to try out the service. Other cities like Barcelona, San Francisco, Ottawa and so many others are doing very well with this type of program and there's no reason for Austin to be lagging! :) In fact, we should be leading the way.
It always suprises me how few people use the smaller (and cheaper) trash bins. Realistically, with a family of three we don't even come close to filling up the small bin so the large bin would be way overkill, and I believe many families would find the same to be the case.
I think many residents don't know that they can switch to a smaller bin and save and the city could do a better job promoting the benefits of the smaller bins to the customer. We could prominently encourage switching via an email campaign as well as on the paper and e-statements.
A smaller bin also encourages people to waste less, recylce more, and be more conscious of how much trash we put in landfills, which ultimately costs the city and it's citizens money and valuable natural resources.
Unless you think the attached picture of a nice landfill should replace Zilker park...
Every week my roommate and I sort and load up bags of recyclables and drive them to Ecology Action because we live in an apartment complex with fewer than 100 units and we don't have curbside recycling. Most people in my complex don't recycle because they don't want to haul their stuff to Ecology Action, but they would if curbside recycling was available. I'd be willing to pay a monthly fee for this service.
We call ourselves a green city, but no recycling for most apartments? Really?