Urban Land & Water
Urban Land & Water – Related Issues
Growing urban sprawl and development in and around San Antonio can bring more than just air pollution — they bring “light pollution” and have been shown to have a detrimental impact on certain types of wildlife. The undesirable effects of light pollution – glare, light trespass, light clutter and sky glow – impact wildlife, as well as regional visitors who play an important role in many local economies of South Texas.
Population forecasts suggest that upwards of 1.1. Million additional people may be settling in the greater San Antonio area by 2040. Projected growth and the development associated with it has the potential to place additional strains on our infrastructure and natural resources including dark skies.
While the economic reasons for protecting dark skies may differ when comparing Hill Country to San Antonio, the goal is the same—reduce unnecessary pollution, consumption of fossil fuels and protect cherished starry nights skies for future generations.
The benefits of reducing light pollution go far beyond the beauty of witnessing the breathtaking solace of a starry night, environmental health and tourism. Simple actions you can make at your home can begin to reduce light pollution while improving your electric bills and ultimately save you money.
Stay tuned to learn more about Dark Skies and how Green Spaces Alliance is participating.
Hill Country Alliance: Preserving the Night Skies (PDF)
Simply stated, an in-stream flow is an amount of water running in a river, usually measured by the volume moving down the channel in a specified amount of time (discharge). A variety of in-stream flows are required to maintain a healthy river. Green Spaces Alliance is currently exploring various institutional arrangements and partnerships that would be particularly useful when protecting in-stream or environmental flows for aquatic species.
Green Spaces Alliance supports of the goals of the Texas In-stream Flow Program as well as Statewide Environmental Flows. The In-stream Flow Program was created in 2001 by the state legislature, Senate Bill 2 (SB2), to study Texas rivers and streams in an effort to determine the amount of water required to maintain a healthy river (sound ecological environment). In 2007 the Texas Legislature established the Senate Bill 3 (SB3) process for environmental flows in order to determine environmental flow standards for all of the major river basins and bay systems in Texas. Senate Bill 3, Statewide Environmental Flows, was designed to be an accelerated, stakeholder-driven, scientific and consensus-based process to establish environmental flow recommendations from which the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) could set standards.
The protection of in-stream and environmental flows for aquatic species has the potential to significantly benefit the local economy, society and the environment. Among much else, protecting in-stream flows can contribute to sustaining the natural environment and protect precious natural resources into the future, for generations to come.
In-stream Flows are an important issue for Green Spaces Alliance. In the future we will be taking the necessary steps to engage more fully with the administering agencies. Please stay tuned for more detail on how Green Spaces Alliance is working within local watersheds to protect in-stream flows.
- Texas Water Development Board Instream Flows Program
- Texas Water Development Board Statewide Environmental Flows
Green Spaces Alliance is continuing to sustain the natural environment and enhance urban spaces through a variety of professional services including ecological restoration. With projected growth of 1.1 million people to Bexar County by 2040, mitigation banking, a policy mechanism where combined water resource management and planning efforts can have a huge impact on the health of the Upper San Antonio and surrounding watersheds.
Green Spaces Alliance is poised to engage in partnership efforts that integrate mitigation banking that includes ecological and hydrological restoration as part of a broader water resource management and planning strategy. Mitigation banking when executed and managed properly can provide long-term benefits to society by offsetting certain types of development. Some of the potential benefits include improved water quality, hydrologic function and wildlife habitat.
As defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA), A mitigation bank is a wetland, stream, or other aquatic resource area that has been restored, established, enhanced, or (in certain circumstances) preserved for the purpose of providing compensation for unavoidable impacts to aquatic resources permitted under Section 404 or a similar state or local wetland regulation (see EPA Compensatory Mitigation Fact Sheet.
From the USEPA’s website, a mitigation bank may be created when a government agency, corporation, nonprofit organization, or other entity undertakes these activities under a formal agreement with a regulatory agency. Mitigation banks have four distinct components:
- The bank site: the physical acreage restored, established, enhanced, or preserved;
- The bank instrument: the formal agreement between the bank owners and regulators establishing liability, performance standards, management and monitoring requirements, and the terms of bank credit approval;
- The Interagency Review Team (IRT): the interagency team that provides regulatory review, approval, and oversight of the bank; and
- The service area: the geographic area in which permitted impacts can be compensated for at a given bank.