City of San Antonio Today Will Begin Preparing for Climate Change

The City of San Antonio this week will begin to prepare for global warming.

A 'Sustainability Plan' which was put together by city staffers, will be reviewed by City Council at a work session.

The plan said 'flooding and high heat days' are the two biggest vulnerabilities San Antonio is facing due to climate change, according to  the City's 'Climate Vulnerability Assessment.

The Assessment makes several suggestions on how the City can deal with the possibility of rising temperatures.

They include the creation of 'block captains' to, in the words of the report,  "be trained and activated to go door to door to check on the health of high risk neighbors during or after a disaster.  The block captains could be existing or emerging neighborhood leaders who will play a critical role in immediate post-disaster recovery, to ensure the health and safety of all San Antonians."

Other suggestions include reviewing the effectiveness of 'cooling centers' in neighborhoods, and actually reducing the number of parking spaces available. That would both encourage motorists to use other forms of transportation, and cut down on the heat generated in the summertime by large slabs of concrete.

Other proposals include:  Adopt a low impact development standard requiring 100% of onsite stormwater management  for all new development and significant retrofits. Initiate a climate education campaign for businesses and  property owners, including details about how to make built infrastructure more resilient to existing and projected changes in climate.  Evaluate and adopt ordinances to create buffer zones around floodplains, riparian areas, and other natural priority areas.  Adopt conservation development friendly ordinances that minimize development in natural greenways, floodplains, near waterways in order to protect watershed and allow for more greenspace .

The report says San Antonio's day and overnight temperatures are on average .5% to .7% higher today than they were in 1960, and the average number of days every summer where temperatures hit 100 degrees has risen from one or two back in 1960, to more than 20 per summer on average today.

Many of the other recommendations include basic conservation plans, many of which are now in place, including increasing the use of solar power, cutting water consumption, continuing to move away from fossil fuels, and cutting down on the number of 'Air Quality Health Alert Days,' where the air is considered dangerous to breathe.

The report also tackles unsustainability in neighborhoods, saying part of the city's sustainability efforts needs to include reductions in obesity, and doing more to fight what is expected to be an increase in 'vector borne diseases' like Zika due to climate change.

Much of the plan also encourages lifestyle changes, like more walking and bicyling, encouraging recycling and cutting down on garbage, and reduced use of pesticides and insecticides.

Charity McCurdy

Charity McCurdy

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