Energy & Environment

Water, energy, conservation, sustainability, WTP4, pollution, oil and gas, hydraulic fracturing (fracking), recycling, and other environmental issues related to Austin and the Central Texas counties of Travis, Hays, Caldwell, Bastrop and Williamson

Image courtesy D'Arcy Norman

That horrible stench you smell near garbage dumps? There's energy in those fumes!

Until fairly recently, the technology used to capture methane-rich biogas and turn it into electricity was not taken seriously as an industrial energy source. That's changing. And now the City of Austin is seeing if it should get on board.

Lake Austin at 360 Bridge
Image courtesy atmtx

Annoying, non-native plants are growing out of control in Lake Austin, and the city is asking the Lower Colorado River Authority to drop lake levels next month to help fend them off. Lake Austin is a stretch of the Colorado River between the Mansfield and Tom Miller dams.

Recycling container
Image courtesy Allison Allison

The southwest Austin exurb of Wimberley, known for its active artistic community, is going to make it easier for people and businesses to reduce landfill waste.

In a news release issued this afternoon, the City of Wimberly said it's switching to a single stream recycling program, allowing both residents and businesses to throw all their recyclables into a single container without having to sort them first.  It's part of Wimberly's three-year contract extension with Texas Disposal Services.

Image courtesy kingdesmond1337

The City of Austin's Solid Waste Services Department says it's going to produce a new reality TV program called Dare to Go Zero. The show would air on City of Austin's government channel and is aimed at encouraging Austinites to throw less garbage into the landfill.  KUT News spoke with the City of Austin Solid Waste Services spokesperson Jennifer Herber about the project.

KUT News: What's this idea behind the reality show?

Image courtesy Texas Comptroller

If you were thinking of buying an energy efficient appliance for Christmas, stop! Wait until after December 20, and the state of Texas will literally give you money to buy it. But after some embarassing problems last spring, you won't be able to file for your rebate online.

Water Treatment Plant 4 Schedule
Graphic courtesy of the City of Austin.

Speaker after speaker spoke out for and against Water Treatment Plant 4 during this morning's Austin City Council meeting.  Council members are voting on about $300 million remaining in construction contracts for the plant.  (Take a closer look at the contracts on the council agenda here)

Bill Bunch, executive director of the Save Our Springs Alliance, repeated his plea to council members to vote against the project.  He thinks it’s a waste of money:

Waste Control Specialists facility
Image from Waste Control Specialists' Facebook page

A hearing in Midland, Texas tomorrow will move foward on adopting a process that could allow a low-level radioactive waste facility in West Texas to accept toxic waste from states other than just Texas and Vermont.

The hearing will be held by the Texas Low Level Radioactive Waste Disposal Compact Commission, an organization with representatives from Texas and Vermont. There are about ten such compacts across the US involving two or more states cooperating on radioactive waste disposal.

Devil's River Ranch
Photo courtesy of Laurence Parent.

Texas Parks and Wildlife Commissioners decided yesterday to delay considering the Devil's River land deal at their regularly meeting this week. Instead, TPWD staff has been asked to continue working on the project and to explore other ways the agency can aquire land for a new state park or preserve in the Devil's River area.

Commission chairman Peter Holt of San Antonio released this statement in a TPWD press release:

City of Kyle logo
Image courtesy of the City of Klye

Environmental experts are currently monitoring Plum Creek after 100,000 gallons of wastewater leaked from a plant in Kyle, a town 20 minutes south of Austin. Per a City of Kyle press release:

The 25th Annual Keep Austin Beautfiul Awards to be Given Today
Photo Courtesy of KAB

The 25th annual Keep Austin Beautiful awards will be handed out today at a luncheon at the Sheraton Austin. The awards are intended to “honor the efforts of businesses, individuals, and community groups, both large and small, that serve as inspirations for greater environmental stewardship.” The awards will acknowledge the contributions of eight different people and organizations, as well as a name a “best of the best” for the organization that has contributed most to the beautification of the city.

Devil's River State Natural Area
Photo courtesy of © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department / Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Texas Parks and Wildlife officials have postponed a vote this week that would have finalized a land deal along the Devil's River in Val Verde County near Del Rio.

The vote was postponed pending a public briefing planned for tomorrow at the Texas Parks and Wildlife commission's Conservation Committee.

A row of Dell desktop computers
Image courtesy Flickr user dontthinkfeel

Newsweek just released its second annual green ranking of America's 500 largest companies. Topping the list is Round Rock-based Dell, which employs about 16,000 people in Central Texas.