As a matter of municipal policy, the Waco City Council has established “Support Sustainability” and “Provide a Safe and Resilient City” as strategic goals for the City of Waco. Sustainability encompasses a wide range of focus areas from land use & development standards to air & water quality to energy utilization to the reduction/elimination of pollution. It is the policy of the Waco City Council that the municipal organization’s operations support proven, cost-effective strategies and initiatives which enhance environmental sustainability by increasing the use of renewable energy and decreasing the concentration of air pollutants.
Whether the motivation be climate change, global warming, avoiding the more stringent regulations that accompany a non-attainment designation, or concern for the quality of life in the region, environmental sustainability merits attention and action.
We invite our citizens to take an active role in our sustainability efforts. One concrete way to do this is by joining the Sustainable Resource Practices Advisory Board. (Scroll down the page or search for the board.)
Declines in air quality in the future would have a tangible impact on the citizens and business owners in Waco and the region. The EPA has set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for six principal criteria pollutants: ground-level ozone, lead, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and particulate matter. Areas that do not meet the NAAQS are designated nonattainment areas while areas that do meet the NAAQS are designated attainment areas. Currently, Waco and McLennan County are attainment areas. Should this region fall into a nonattainment classification, remedial actions would be required. Example actions include more stringent vehicle inspections, additional regulations for businesses, etc. If classified as a non-attainment area, air pollution would decrease the quality of life in the region and more stringent regulations would increase the cost of living and doing business in the region.
There are now four electric vehicles (Chevy Bolts) owned by the City of Waco. Battery Electric Vehicles (BEVs) like the Chevy Bolt produce no emissions and help to significantly improve air quality and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The City has also invested in hybrid Ford Police Interceptor Utility vehicles that save fuel and reduce emissions. A fleet study is underway that will explore the best strategy for transitioning to electric vehicles.
While carpooling and utilizing Transit buses help to reduce overall emissions, riding a bike is another great zero emissions mode of transportation. The City of Waco has been expanding the number of bike lanes available and investing heavily in improving the quality of our roads. These improvements also include investments in smarter transportation technology that will keep traffic moving more and idling less.
The City of Waco has secured a contract with MP2 Energy Texas, LLC for 100% green, renewable energy from the following Texas wind and solar assets: Bruennings Breeze Wind, Chapman Wind, Stella Wind, Phoebe Energy Solar, and Prospero Solar. This contract begins April 1, 2022 and saves over $400,000 annually (almost $3 million over the seven-year term of the contract) compared to the previous contract.
Energy conservation measures were considered when designing the new Fire Station #6 on the properties located at 1000 N. 25th Street and 1006 N. 25th Street (the location of the former 25th Street Theatre). The project includes two buildings on the property which will serve as the new Fire Station #6 and the new Fire Administration Offices with Community Room. The City opted to include the installation of solar panels on the building's roof that should generate approximately 45,965 kWh annually and provide up to 45% of the building's electricity needs.
We’re fortunate to have Lake Waco as our primary source of plentiful drinking water and the City of Waco has been able to maintain a Superior water quality rating from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). So there’s really no reason to spend extra money on bottled water when you can fill up a nice, refreshing glass from the tap.
In addition to clean drinking water, Waco is also blessed with an abundance of water for recreation and enjoyment. Balancing the natural ecosystems so close to our urban center is a privilege and responsibility for our citizens. We hope you will join in a river cleanup day with Keep Waco Beautiful. The City of Waco's priority is to invest in sustainable stormwater and watershed infrastructure and management.
The City of Waco has submitted a permit to the TCEQ for a new landfill because the current one is almost full. Of course, recycling is the best strategy we have for slowing down how quickly we fill up our landfills. But did you know that besides just taking up space, landfills also create a gas called methane? Methane is a more potent greenhouse gas than carbon dioxide. The more stuff we can keep out of the landfill (especially organic material like yard and food waste) the less methane will be produced.
Fortunately, the City of Waco has made it easy to recycle many materials, including yard waste. And now you can have not just one, but two green carts (for yard waste) and two blue carts (for other recyclables) at no additional cost. The blue carts are for mixed paper (newspaper, magazines, junk mail, phone books, etc.), clean cardboard (no pizza boxes that contain grease), aluminum, steel cans, tin, and #1 & #2 plastics only (no plastic bags). Anything else is trash and should go in a gray cart.
Healthy, Local Food
Have you been to the Waco Farmers’ Market yet? Eating locally grown food is a great way to eat healthy, help reduce the transportation costs of your food, and support the economic development of our local farmers and ranchers. Not to mention supporting the local artists and craftsmen that also sell at the market.
But it doesn’t stop at the farmers’ market. You can purchase healthy, local food through CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) memberships that farmers deliver on a regular basis or at a number of restaurants that purchase from local farms. Sustainability also means helping sustain efforts to prevent food deserts (areas of Waco that lack access to healthy food). Mission Waco’s Jubilee Market on 15th Street is one such effort you can support. And right next door is Mission Waco’s Urban REAP, a great model of local sustainability with an aquaponics greenhouse, solar panels, water catchment, and a commercial composting machine where you can drop off your food scraps.
The booming revitalization of downtown Waco is actually a great asset to our sustainability efforts. Infill development that reuses obsolete or underutilized buildings and sites is preferable to the sprawling development that requires more transportation, water, and energy infrastructure. It also provides this part of Waco with an attractive community character.
And speaking of attractive, Cameron Park, located near downtown and along the Brazos River, is one of the largest municipal parks in Texas. With 400 acres of natural beauty, the park has provided a treasure of recreational opportunity to Wacoans for over 100 years.
The need for developing increased resiliency was reinforced by the recent extreme cold temperatures that knocked out electricity and natural gas to millions of Texans. Fortunately, the City of Waco was able to pull together and prevent a boil order that would have caused a crisis for water access. The city is very focused on strengthening its ability to deal with an increasing number of extreme weather events. Acquisition of backup power generation is a key element of our resiliency strategy. Senate Bill 3, which took effect June 8, 2021, places certain resiliency requirements on utilities such as the City’s Water/Wastewater Department.
It is critical for long range planning to have as clear a picture as possible what kind of extreme weather events we might experience and how often they could occur. Recently updated floodplain maps help us understand where floodwaters occur to better protect both people and property.