Environmental Development includes the Solid Waste Program and the Air Quality Program.
Solid Waste Program
The Solid Waste Program began as a result of legislation which stipulated that each Council of Governments engage in planning for the solid waste management of its region. Since original formation of the plan, the Solid Waste Program manages plan updates every four years, implements the items in the plan, and administers the Solid Waste Grant Program for the region. HOTCOG provides technical assistance concerning all aspects of solid waste management. Staff has also disseminated information identifying possible grant funding and training opportunities to local governments and has met with local officials in the region to assist with obtaining funds. Staff maintains a regional environmental resource center that is continually updated with the latest information and remains a valuable resource to the region.
Solid Waste Advisory Committee
Each biennium the Committee develops a regional funding plan outlining the eligible project categories and their respective priority, special funding considerations and the amount of funding available for solid waste projects. The public is given the opportunity to provide input regarding the regional funding plan through public hearings prior to the final adoption and notification of funding availability. The SWAC is charged with the scoring and ranking of implementation proposals submitted for funding.
Solid Waste Grant Projects
HOTCOG receives funding for the Regional Solid Waste Grants Program from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). These funds are generated from the tipping fees collected at landfill sites across the state.
Public Outreach Education and Training
HOTCOG continues to provide training throughout the region on various topics pertaining to solid waste. The Solid Waste Planner participates in many awareness activities, including visits to schools and producing promotional materials.
Air Quality Program
The HOTCOG Air Quality program began in January of 2010 as a result of the region’s being designated part of the Rider 8 Program, a program for communities near nonattainment of ozone standards, by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ.) The program began with a great sense of urgency, as expected changes in air quality standards threatened to lead to a status of “nonattainment” for part of or all of the Region. The public health and political ramifications of high ozone made this issue a top concern during fiscal year 2010.
The COG moved quickly to gather stakeholders, establish an Air Quality Advisory Committee, and secure qualified air quality consultants to begin assessment of the region’s ozone picture. It established a web site to advise citizens of ozone issues, including days at risk of high ozone readings, and engaged in a public awareness campaign, including multimedia advertising and numerous speaking opportunities around the community.