San Marcos Mercury | Local News from San Marcos and Hays County, Texas

September 14th, 2009
Regional governments start 'Big Push'

STAFF REPORT

The “Ozone Season” (April 1-Oct. 31) is a crucial time for air quality standards in San Marcos and Hays County. Ozone levels monitored at this time determine whether the area will meet federal standards for ground-level ozone.

Regional air quality partners have initiated “The Big Push” to encourage citizens and businesses to reduce ozone-forming emissions during September, which is, historically, the worst month for ozone levels in Central Texas.

San Marcos city officials warn that the area will be designated a “non-attainment” area if ozone levels do not meet federal standards. This could result in restrictions on business development and delays in transportation projects.

Based on the readings taken so far, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has recommended to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that central Texas be designated as a non-attainment area. If ozone levels could be lowered for October and the remainder of September, the area could still meet federal standards and qualify for the attainment designation.

The city is recommending a few steps citizens can take:

* Become educated on when ozone watches and warnings occur by signing up for free email alerts at www.cleanairforce.org.

* Carpool, ride the bus, telecommute, ride your bike or simply avoid peak driving times, especially on ozone action days.

* Delay running errands, refueling vehicles and mowing/landscaping until after 6:00 p.m.

* Don’t top off your gas tank when refueling.

* Keep your vehicle properly tuned to reduce exhaust levels.

* Turn off your vehicle instead of letting it idle. Try not to use the drive-through when purchasing fast food.

* Bring your lunch to work to reduce driving. If it is possible, try walking to lunch and back again. It’s better for your digestion, too.

* Turn off lights when not in use. Try to use compact fluorescent light bulbs. They may seem expensive but they are extremely long lasting.

* Store paints, fuel and lighter fluid in sealed containers inside a garage or shed. If you no longer need them, consider taking them to the next city-sponsored hazardous material disposal day.

* Use more efficient equipment or alternative/additive fuels for less/cleaner emissions.

For more information on air quality and ground-level ozone visit the EPA website at epa.gov/air/ozonepollution/or the TCEQ website at tceq.state.tx.us/nav/main/air_main.html, or contact the city of San Marcos at (512) 393-8310.

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0 thoughts on “Regional governments start 'Big Push'

  1. While maintaining the Clean Air designation is difficult, involving the community’s joint efforts to save fuel and to use it wisely–by not idling in traffic unless absolutely necessary, for example, by managing use of gasoline appliances like mowers carefully, by decreasing auto miles driven, etc, seem tedious, non-attainment is much more tedious. This involves higher fuel prices, retrofitting fuel pumps with vapor controls and other mechanisms, etc.,as well as much tougher and more expensive inspection and repair standards. The net effect is a drain on cost, time, transportation options, and other “freedoms of the road.”

    The I-35 Corridor has hovered in near non-attainment for years, barely escaping the strict regimes imposed on Houston, Dallas, El Paso and other cities concerned with air quality and health issues. To move under full non-attainment may be inevitable as the region grows and inter-urban traffic increases. The longer we can stave it off by any means, including carpooling, biking, or staggering drive times, the better for all, but especially the very young and old, who are most vulnerable to the perils of toxic air. Learn it and live it!

  2. As Austin and San Antonio comes closer together, the air will be blanketed with a thick yellow haze. Overpopulation , overpopulation, overpopulation.

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