Winter 2018 News Briefs


Get the Lead Out

Austin schools address lead contamination

Environment Texas is committed to getting the lead out of the 779 Texas schools where research has found lead contamination in the drinking water. Last fall, we had a major victory with the Austin Independent School District (AISD).

Environment Texas first asked AISD to address lead contamination in school drinking water back in February 2017, but the district failed to act. So we used a Public Information Act request to obtain the district’s lead testing data and learned that nine AISD schools and facilities had tested positive for lead. After we shared this information with the media, AISD announced that they would make testing data available online, perform additional testing and install filters on faucets found to have lead.

This is a great step forward, but there’s more to do. In September, Environment Texas Research & Policy Center released a toolkit to give people the resources to take action locally, and all across the state, Environment Texas is working with PTAs, pediatricians, custodial staff and others to get the lead out.

Clean Water

Report: EPA cuts will impact local water quality

Our streams, rivers, lakes and wetlands are critical to our health and our quality of life. But when President Trump announced his federal budget, it included steep funding cuts to the programs and agencies charged with their protection.

A series of reports released by Environment America Research & Policy Center analyzed the proposed budget cuts and revealed how they would threaten coastal resiliency, remove protections for flood-absorbing wetlands, neglect funding for stormwater and sewage treatment, expose more Americans to toxic chemicals, and threaten the future health of important waterways—including Puget Sound, the Great Lakes and the Chesapeake Bay.

In the new year, Environment America will continue to call for fully funding the programs that clean up and protect the waters we love. And with your support, you can be sure that you’re making a difference on clean water.

Read the report here.


Bee Friendly Food Alliance tops 240

We don’t see many bees flying around in the winter, but we do see the fruits of their labor. Bees pollinate many of the world’s most common crops—so when beekeepers in the U.S. reported losing 33 percent of their honeybee colonies last year, it was clear that losing the bees would have a devastating effect on our food supply.

Last year, Environment America and our national network launched the Bee Friendly Food Alliance—a coalition of chefs, restaurant owners and others in the restaurant industry—to make their voices heard to protect bees. After all, who knows better what we stand to lose without them? And by the end of 2017, more than 240 leaders in the restaurant industry had joined us.

This fall, chefs appeared alongside our staff at media events across the country to shine a spotlight on the Thanksgiving treats made possible by bees, including pumpkin pie, cranberry sauce and green bean casserole. With your support, we’ll continue our work to ban the pesticides that are killing bees.

Green Infrastructure

Report: Texas Stormwater Scorecard

As Texas cities grow, the potential damage from floods becomes worse as more of the state’s land is covered with buildings and roads that prevent rain from soaking into the ground where it falls. That’s why more Texans are using building and landscaping features that can retain and reuse stormwater onsite. These features include rain gardens, green roofs, permeable pavement and rain cisterns, and are known as Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI) and Low Impact Development (LID).

In September, Environment Texas Research & Policy Center released a scorecard evaluating GSI/LID policies in the state’s five largest cities. While none of Texas’s top cities achieved the highest possible score, the intent of this survey isn’t to criticize them for what they haven’t done, but to recommend what they could do next. Scores represent what percentage of the steps on our checklist have been implemented by each city:

  1. Austin: 90%
  2. San Antonio: 65%
  3. Fort Worth: 60%
  4. Houston: 50%
  5. Dallas: 40%

You can find the full scorecard and in-depth explanations for each city’s score here.