Energy & Environment

Water
4:31 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Purple Pipe Goes Burnt Orange as UT Welcomes Reclaimed Water

Purple pipes at UT-Austin carry reclaimed water, which is recycled wastewater used for non-drinking purposes.
Bobby Blanchard, KUT News

The normally burnt orange University of Texas campus is looking a little more purple.

Today, campus and city officials celebrated the completion of a project that installed purple pipes on campus. The university is estimating these pipes, connected to Austin Water’s reclaimed water system, will save the campus 70 million gallons of drinking water annually.

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Environment
4:04 pm
Wed March 27, 2013

Bill Would Hold Tire Haulers Accountable for Illegal Dumping

Tires are getting dumped illegally all over Texas, and the Legislature is considering action.
courtesy flickr.com/yelpar

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that the TCEQ counted six illegal piles of tires in Travis County. In fact, the TCEQ has identified only one pile in Travis County with a tire count between 7,300 and 299,999. We regret the error. 

Original story: Next time you’re driving your car, look at all the tires around you. When those tires wear out, they have to go somewhere.

Every year, more than 24 million tires leave the roads in Texas. And many of them are dumped illegally. A proposal before the Legislature today aims to reduce that problem.

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Drought
3:10 pm
Tue March 26, 2013

As Drought Persists, Grocery Prices Rise

The effects of drought caused a rise in grocery prices this year, as Texas and other agriculture producing states grapple with dry farming and ranching conditions.
flickr.com/roofless

The cost of groceries in Texas has gone up as a result of drought conditions in Texas and across the country.

A survey from the Texas Farmers Bureau finds that the price of a uniform basket of goods for an average Texas shopper is $46.40, a five and a half percent rise over last fiscal quarter.

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weather
6:54 pm
Mon March 25, 2013

Another Freeze Warning for the Morning

Mercury reading below the freeze mark expectd early Tuesday in parts of Central Texas
Flickr, Colleen Sullivan

Another freeze warning goes into effect early Tuesday morning. The local office of the National Weather Service has the warning in effect from 3 a.m. to 9 a.m. Tuesday.

Temperatures are expected to go below freezing overnight, mainly from Austin to the north and west into the Hill Country.

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Weather
8:34 am
Wed March 20, 2013

Rain, Hail Over Central Texas on First Day of Spring

Hail pictures captured by twitter user Justin Girdler (@just_g).
Justin Girdler (@just_g)

The calendar now says spring!

Some much-needed rain fell over Central Texas last night and this morning. Rain totals could range from a tenth of an inch to one inch. 

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Environment
7:50 pm
Thu March 7, 2013

Drought Persists Across Texas

Eighty-nine percent of Texas is in some state of drought.
U.S. Drought Monitor

The latest outlook on the drought shows Texas is drier this week than last. The U.S. Drought Monitor says almost 89 percent of Texas is in drought.

In Travis County, the drought ranges from moderate to severe. The Highland Lakes that supply Austin with water are 41 percent full. David Walker at the Lower Colorado River Authority says their worst-case scenario could see lakes drop to their lowest level on record this year.

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Environment
7:56 am
Wed March 6, 2013

Free Tree Seedlings at the State Capitol Today

East Texas has nearly 12 million acres of commercial forest land.
flickr.com/dhwright

The Texas Forestry Association is giving away 5,000 hardwood seedlings near the south steps of the Capitol this morning. The association will begin handing out the trees at 8:30 a.m. and will continue until 11:30 a.m. or until the supply runs out.

The seedling giveaway is a biennial tradition. The TFA began their seedling giveaway during the 72nd legislative session to raise public awareness of the tree planting efforts that take place across the state.

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weather
7:12 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Free Red Cross App Warns of Tornadoes

Tornado damage outside Dallas in April 2012
StateFarm/Flickr http://www.flickr.com/photos/statefarm/6914725716/

The Red Cross has a new smartphone app for iPhone and Android users that warns when a tornado may be nearby. 

“There’s actually an audible alarm that tells you there is a tornado warning where you are or for a location that you’re monitoring," says Sara Kennedy with the Red Cross of Central Texas. "Even if the app’s not open, it's in your pocket, it’s next to your bed, it actually will tell you.” 

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Environment
7:06 pm
Mon March 4, 2013

Effort Begins to Extinguish Austin Compost Fires

The (in)famous Dillo Dirt mud at Austin City Limits Fest 2009.
flickr.com/plutor

One week after strong winds sparked fires at City of Austin compost piles, Water Utility crews have started the process of putting them out.

The fires have been smoldering since Monday, February 25, in compost piles at the Hornsby Bend Biosolids Plant, where the fertilizer known as Dillo Dirt is produced. The fires were started by wind gusts of as much 50 mph.

The Austin Water Utility says air quality is being monitored with the use of "special" monitoring devices and says the amount of smoke should diminish this week. 

austin
5:15 am
Fri March 1, 2013

Plastic Bag Ban Now in Effect

Say goodbye to the old-style plastic shopping bag.
courtesy flickr.com/adav

If you’re going to the grocery store or planning a quick stop at the convenience store today, you’ll need to bring your own bag. Most businesses within the Austin city limits will have to abide by a new rule that prohibits them from providing paper or plastic single-use bags to customers.

While it will take getting used to, the switch to reusables that goes into effect today is good news to some Austinites.

Longtime environmentalists celebrated the end of an era with a party at Cherrywood Coffeehouse in Austin this week. Featured artist Bill Oliver pushed for a bag ban for decades.

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Environment
8:05 am
Fri February 22, 2013

Map: Prescribed Burn Closes Slaughter Creek Trail

Austin Water Utility conducts prescribed burns to restore native grasslands.
facebook.com/AustinWater

Slaughter Creek Trail in southwest Austin off of Ranch to Market 1826 will be closed all day today because of a planned prescribed burn.

Austin Water Utility’s Wildland Conservation Division plans to burn about 70 acres of land in the area in order to manage brush and encourage the growth of native grasses.

The burn is expected to take five to six hours. It's not clear when the burn will begin.

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Environment
12:54 pm
Tue February 19, 2013

Judge OKs Transocean's $1 Billion Civil Settlement Over Gulf Oil Spill

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 11:10 am

A federal judge in New Orleans has approved a $1 billion civil settlement over its role in the Gulf of Mexico oil spill where 11 men died in April of 2010, the AP reports.

As we reported back in January, federal authorities blamed Transocean "for acting negligently when the rig's crew proceeded with maneuvers to the deep-sea well in the face of clear danger signals that oil and natural gas were flowing."

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Environment
6:50 am
Tue February 19, 2013

Forecasting Climate With A Chance Of Backlash

Jim Gandy, chief meteorologist for WLTX, in Columbia, S.C.
Brian Dressler Courtesy of WLTX

Originally published on Tue February 19, 2013 4:31 pm

When it comes to climate change, Americans place great trust in their local TV weathercaster, which has led climate experts to see huge potential for public education.

The only problem? Polls show most weather presenters don't know much about climate science, and many who do are fearful of talking about something so polarizing.

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Environment
5:47 am
Mon February 18, 2013

Protesters Call On Obama To Reject Keystone XL Pipeline

Dr. J. William Hirzy, a chemistry professor at American Universiy, rests outside the rally route with a graph he uses to teach his students about the relationship between atmospheric carbon dioxide and global temperature.
Daniel M.N. Turner NPR

Originally published on Wed February 20, 2013 3:33 pm

Tens of thousands of protesters turned out on the National Mall Sunday to encourage President Obama to make good on his commitment to act on climate change.

In his Inaugural address from outside the U.S. Capitol, the president said: "We will respond to the threat of climate change knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations."

Just a few weeks later, next to the Washington Monument, Paul Birkeland was one of a couple dozen people holding a long white tube above their heads.

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Environment
5:12 am
Thu February 14, 2013

Lege Weighs Frackers' Water Needs

Oil and gas drillers are using more and more water.
Erik Reyna/KUT News

Fracking has opened up huge deposits of oil and gas in Texas and other parts of the county. It’s brought plenty of jobs – and profits – to the state. But it also requires something Texas has in short supply these days: water. 

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