Environmental Experts Gather To Discuss A Cleaner

For the first time, the Houston area's leading environmental organizations have come together to discuss the future of clean air and water over the next few years. The unique summit, hosted by the Citizens' Environmental Coalition, focused on an array of challenges facing the Houston-Galveston region, and ways to fix the problems.

The gathering called “Visions for a Greater Houston” was an effort to project where our environmental  community will be by the end of this year. Summit participant Bob Stokes is president of the Galveston Bay Foundation.

“Water quality and pollution of our water in Galveston Bay is one of the big issues, but the lack fresh water is a big issue for us as well. That’s an issue that determines the long term health of Galveston Bay. We have other issues with habitat loss, you know, so many people moving down to around Galveston Bay and converting prairies and forests into subdivisions.”

Living in Galveston might be unique, but Stokes says conserving water can actually sometimes help reduce pollution.

“People just think Houston’s got a ton of water and it rains here all the time that we have lots of water. Well, we don’t necessarily have a lot of water. We may have a lot of water for the people that we have here now, but we’re gonna have another two million people here, another two million people in the Dallas-Fort Worth area drawing from our water sources, which is the Trinity River, so I think water conservation is the place to start.”

He says water conservation is just as important to people living in Galveston. Matthew Tejada of Air Alliance Houston says the summit allowed the different agencies to share their expertise for one goal: a cleaner environment.

“I think we all know more or less what’s happening, but I don’t always know what’s going on with the water stuff. They might not always know what’s going on with the air stuff. None of us really know everything that’s going on with transportation, or with planning or with growth. So this just gives us an opportunity to measure the water. And if there’s areas where we can work together, and even if its just sharing a little bit of knowledge, that’s valuable enough. But I think bringing us together like this, we can do more than that.”

Helen O' Connor
Helen O’Connor, board president of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition, welcomes participants to Environmental Summit.

Besides air and water quality, discussions focused on other aspects that impact the environment, like energy, waste and recycling, and building and sustainability.

Helen O’Connor is the board president of the Citizens’ Environmental Coalition.

“It’s not necessarily about preventable stuff, because that’s not always realistic. But some of it is about education, about becoming a more informed citizenry in the Houston-Galveston region. So people understand what’s by their doorstep and understand the ramifications of some of the decisions that are made. Some of it is about making sure that, as we make decisions to plan and grow Houston, that we do so in an informed manner and in a sustainable way.”

Each area discussed will help formulate a short list of achievable action items and a plan will be presented to the City of Houston before the annual Earth Day Houston celebration on April 7.

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