Our own Ryan Taylor was included in a small group that met with Acting Assistant EPA Administrator Nancy Stoner and EPA Region 4 Administrator Gwendolyn Keyes Fleming for a White House advisers round table on the 26th of June, 2012.
The group met the offices of the American Institute of Architects Atlanta chapter for approximately an hour and a half to discuss energy, environmental issues and conservation. Ms. Stoner’s work focuses on water so much of the discussion was about water use and conservation. She began the meeting by outlining some of the work EPA is doing to develop mobile apps for people to find more information easily, the EPA’s work on green infrastructure and its work on urban waters.
Ryan advanced three concerns that might resonate with you:
1. We need more education to help people identify the watershed in which they live so they’ll have a sense of ownership and responsibility for that watershed. That may be something that can be built into the mobile apps and other technology EPA is developing.
2. We still see a significant amount of leaks in private pipes owned by single-family home owners, HOAs and others. We typically see the leaks when the contractor excavates for the installation of footings. Removing the weight of the soil removes the pressure from the pipes so the rate of leaking water increases.
Most people don’t know they can call their local water authority to get some direction about how to detect leaks, repair the system, etc. We need to do a better job helping citizens find existing resources in that regard.
3. We hope the green infrastructure and urban waters initiatives can include guidance about making effective use of storm water. Atlanta is the least dense city with a population of over three million people in the world. As you get out into our suburbs, you see a significant amount of land dedicated to detention basins – they trap heavy flows of storm water and discharge it slowly into the municipal storm water system so that the system isn’t flooded.
Those detention basins typically aren’t used for anything other than trapping water so they’re empty most of the time as our drought conditions have become the norm. We’re wasting a significant amount of land because we’ve not built an expectation for better use of the land and better use of storm water.
This is of particular concern as municipalities are looking at taxes/fees to build and maintain storm water systems. We should be trapping storm water on each building site and using it in our buildings or for irrigation (of agriculture) so we can reduce the need for expensive storm water systems and their required maintenance.
There were a number of other great points made and we’re expecting a write-up from the EPA staff. We’ll share that when we find a copy. Please let us know if there are any issues you’d like us to address or forward to our government contacts. Thanks!