Environmental concerns are traditionally a dominant theme in discussions of sustainability. Water management and energy use are as important to the sustainability of our region as any other single concern.
Access to water is not geologically distributed to match current growth and consumption patterns, and greater effort is needed to prepare the region for possible extended drought. In some corners of the region, water quality has much deeper meanings to economy, health, and engagement than just suitability for drinking. It is inextricably tied to the quality of life and personal connection to place.
Energy production consumes a great deal of water and generates air pollutants, green-house gases and hazardous waste. Regional air quality is influenced by multiple activities, some of which we can manage through local policy and personal choices – such as local pollution emissions, efficient mobility and land use coordination, public awareness – and some which we cannot – such as continental weather patterns and non-local emissions.
New large recycling facilities have improved the economies of waste diversion. Recycling and composting have caught on with the general public, giving administrators more leverage to expand recycling programs.