The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has declared Bexar County as a “marginal nonattainment” area. This designation is the lowest level of nonattainment classification possible. San Antonio was previously deemed in attainment. Seven other neighboring counties including Atascosa, Bandera, Comal, Guadalupe, Kendall, Medina, and Wilson are still classified as attainment/unclassifiable.
Nonattainment status is determined by the EPA according to the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) of the Clean Air Act. In 2015, the standards were lowered by the Obama administration from 75 parts-per-billion (ppb) to 70 ppb. San Antonio currently measures at 73 ppb.
Andrew Wheeler, Acting EPA Administrator, said in a statement, “Information provided by the state indicates that the San Antonio area is on the path toward attainment, and we expect Bexar County will be able to demonstrate that it meets the standard well in advance of the attainment date in 2021.”
The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will be responsible for performing Point Source Emissions Inventories. New businesses or expansions that will increase emissions by more than 100 tons per year will be required to complete a TCEQ permitting process called a New Source Review.
The Alamo Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (AAMPO) will be responsible for ensuring planned projects do not worsen the air quality levels.
If you have questions or would like to discuss how this change may affect your actions in the San Antonio region, please contact aci here.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) announced today that the Texas Hornshell (Popenaias popeii) will be added to the list of Endangered Species on March 12, 2018. Comments will be accepted until the date of listing.
The freshwater mussel species can be found in parts of Texas, New Mexico, and Mexico. The species has been considered threatened by the State of Texas since 2009.
New Mexico has an existing Candidate Conservation Agreement with Assurances (CCAA) with the USFWS which pertains to lessees and grantees of state trust lands.
February 8, 2018 – Final Rule (Open Comment Period)
Location Map from USFWS:
Kevin Ramberg, Principal Ecologist with aci consulting, recently presented at the American Council of Engineering Companies (ACEC) National Conference in Orlando, Florida about the integration of Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS), also known as drones, into environmental compliance and monitoring.
The number of FAA-registered drone operators is quickly approaching 800,000. In recent years, scientists, surveyors, engineers, and contractors have created innovative approaches and solutions with this relatively new technology.
A/E/C applications for drone use include topography, site reconnaissance, quantity estimates, inspections, and high resolution up-to-the-minute aerial photography.
Drones have proven to be useful when regulatory authorities or multiple stakeholders need to have input on various aspects of the project. Mitigation site selection can be identified, and plant health can be assessed remotely. Vantage points that are unreachable on foot can be easily viewed using this technology. For high profile projects, compliance commitments can be demonstrated through high resolution aerial photo documentation.
Other tools in the toolbox include: 3-D visualizations, habitat modeling and monitoring, rapid preliminary reconnaissance, and preconstruction condition assessment. Virtual site visits save project time and cost.
aci consulting recently used this technology to conduct a virtual site visit in central Texas and to perform a migratory bird nest survey to avoid potential impacts to Colorado raptors.
With Part 107 certified UAS pilots on staff, aci consulting is ready to support our clients’ needs with this cutting edge technology. Do you have a project that could benefit from using drone technology? Let us help!
Draft 2 of CodeNEXT is open for public comment until October 31st. This updated version of the City of Austin’s Land Development Code simplifies the many zone categories after feedback from Draft 1.
Other Updates include:
Since the new code aims to increase the total number of housing units, residents are concerned about the influx of traffic in areas likely to be redeveloped into higher-occupancy units. The City hopes to add 135,000 new housing units by 2025 with 65,000 of those for families earning less than the median family income.
The Austin City Council kicked off their Open House series last Wednesday at City Hall. Representatives from CodeNEXT were on hand to answer questions.
November 2017 – Draft 3 (Final) to be released
January 2018 – Deadline for Zoning and Platting Commission to make their recommendation to City Council
April 2018 – City Council to approve final version
To review Draft 2 and make public comments, visit the City of Austin website.