Friday, November 9, 2018

Berks Nature Issues 10 Year Environmental Status Report For Berks County

Berks Nature recently issued its 10-year report on the State of the Environment in Berks County which revisits environmental indicators and tracks recommendations in its first report 10 years ago.
“We launched the first State of the Environment report a decade ago with the philosophy of “what gets measured, gets done.” It was the first time anyone had undertaken a comprehensive analysis of the state of the environment in Berks County.
“We identified 25 environmental indicators across five critical categories-- Water, Energy, Air, Waste, and Land-- and shared the data, assigning a thumbs up when the data was positive or moving in the right direction and a thumbs down to indicate areas where we needed to work harder.
“When we released the initial report, we knew that it would take years for some of the indicators to show signs of improvement.
“The environmental concerns we identified in the first report were not created overnight. They grew slowly over multiple decades as a result of poor understanding, neglect, or indifference.
“We knew that we could not solve all of the challenges overnight or even over a single decade, but we knew we had to try.
“That first State of the Environment report inspired efforts by a variety of municipalities, organizations and individuals to improve the local Berks County environment. Groups of people concerned about poor water quality adopted watersheds and worked to protect them.
“Municipalities recognized the value of coordinated planning and began working together to tackle environmental and other issues collaboratively. Individuals recognized the importance of protecting the environmental value of their land and placed it under permanent easement.
In the decade since the first report, there have also been positive shifts at the national and global levels that have created benefits for us in Berks County.
“Federal clean air standards, for example, encouraged energy companies and manufacturers to find less-polluting ways to make their products.
“The discovery of vast reserves of less expensive natural gas made it possible to reduce the amount of coal we burn to generate electricity.
“Automotive companies began making less-polluting, more fuel-efficient vehicles and new technologies made electric vehicles more reliable and affordable.
“Large companies are making public pledges to address their contributions to climate change and they are releasing their own corporate sustainability reports that allow shareholders and others to measure the companies’ environmental performance.
“You can see the benefits of some of these improvements in the updated State of the Environment data.
“Despite all of these positive steps, the State of the Environment data for Berks County shows that we still have a long way to go. While we have made progress and some of the indicators are moving in the right direction, there is still work to be done. We’re going to do our part. Will you?”
Summary Of Indicators
Here are just a few of the status results summarized in the report--
-- Projects are having positive impact on water quality, but 332 miles of stream remain impaired;
-- 36 or 63 water suppliers have water protection plans covering 97 percent of population;
-- 13 municipalities have update sewage plans, but most are more 10 years old or more; and
-- 34 percent of aquatic life monitoring locations rated good.
-- Vehicle miles traveled per resident has not been reduced;
-- Use of public transit before state average;
-- County relies mainly on fossil fuel for energy, few renewable sources available;
-- Homes are getting more energy efficient, but more could be done; and
-- Berks significantly increased number of LEED green buildings.
-- Number of bad air days decreasing, but traffic congestion challenges air quality;
-- Lead levels in the air have decreased and all of Berks County meets lead standard;
-- Air toxic releases have decreased significantly;
-- Particle pollution levels have decreased; and
-- Traffic congestion and trash burning challenge air quality.
-- No attempt to reduce the amount of waste county generates;
-- Amount of waste disposed in Berks County increasing after declining for several years;
-- Volume of electronics waste increasing, as is e-waste recycling;
-- Most people continue to participate in special waste collection events; and
-- Recycling percentage has fallen below 30 percent.
--15 percent of land in the county is permanently protected, and increasing;
-- Forested lands make up largest land-cover category;
-- Impervious land-cover makes up 12 percent of the county, but municipalities are addressing stormwater issues;
-- Multi-municipal cooperation and planning is on the rise; and
-- Outdoor recreation has increased, but more connections and promotions are needed.
The plan also offers 25 tips on how residents can go green and help move the indicators in the report in a positive direction.
Click Here for a copy of the complete report.
Supporting Publications
There are a series of supporting documents Berks Nature produced along with the 10 year report that provide an even more information about environmental initiatives in the county.  They include--
-- Business Of Nature: The Return On Investment In Restoring, Protection Natural Resources In the County;
-- Healthy Living In Berks: Get Outside In Nature, Buy Local Fruits & Veggies; Get Your Well Water Tested
For more information on programs, initiatives, upcoming events and how you can get involved, visit the Berks Nature website.  Click Here to sign up for regular updates from Berks Nature.  Click Here to support their work.
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