Texas Takes Trinity River by the Horns

Texas Takes Trinity River by the Horns:

Within the city limits of Dallas, Texas, there is an eleven mile stretch of land named the Trinity River Corridor. An urban hardwood forest to rival New York’s Central Park in size, this gem of real estate is the site where years of visions, funding and plans have recently gone under way.

The Trinity River Vision Authority (TRVA) is the organization responsible for the implementation of the Trinity River Vision (TRV) – a master plan for the Trinity River in Fort Worth, Texas.” Alongside the TRVA, Viridian Energy has made its entry into the entire state of Texas, providing potential green energy services to over 25 million residents. Hand in hand with the TRV, Viridian has already contributed severall hundred volunteer hours to, “remove a total of 2,050 pounds of invasive plants, trash and debris from the Dallas Floodway along Cedar Creek and the Santé Fe Trestle Trail.”

The TRV encompasses a program that will create, “new recreational amenities, improved infrastructure, environmental enhancements and event programming,” as well as a new urban waterfront neighborhood re-named Panther Island. As stated on the TRVA website, responsibility to the urban forestry is a large part of the project goals, including flood control, ecosystem restoration, and sustainability.

The website further elaborates,“While previous channelization and levee construction has provided a measure of flood protection to Fort Worth’s central city, it left much of the Trinity River a broad, straight trapezoidal vessel with little environmental character.”

Since April of 2015, the TRV was given the approval to seek federal funding by way of the Army Corps of Engineers. The Dallas Morning News reported on this huge hurdle overcome, reporting a, “$572 million comprehensive plan that would enhance flood protection, provide a reliever road for downtown highways and create recreational amenities along the river’s path.”

With the collaboration of companies and government with the great city of Dallas, the Trinity River Project is a large, but successful example of urban planning that touches on and addresses essential parts of revitalizing an urban area. For the future of the environment, a key factor in this project is that the redevelopment and redesign can and will continue to respect and successfully coexist with nature.

image courtesy of Jeremy Monin . Dallas skyline with Trinity River

Delhi Continues Efforts to Save the Ridge

Delhi Continues Efforts to Save the Ridge:

In Delhi, India, there’s been a recent re-emergence of a pro-active urban forestry culture, and for good reason. Boasting a population of over 16 million residents, Delhi is a growing capital city. Composed of a “series of low hills extending in two branches to cradle the city, the Ridge…serves many valuable ecological functions, protecting Delhi from the dust of nearby Rajasthan, lowering the ambient temperature, cleaning the air, sheltering flora and fauna, and – perhaps most importantly – filtering and preserving groundwater in a parched city.”

Historically, efforts to protect and preserve the lush dense forest cover have ebbed and flowed in public consciousness, beginning in 1979 with the founding of Kalpavriksh. “In 1992, Kalpavriksh joined with several other organizations to form the Joint NGO Forum to Save the Ridge, which included major groups like the WWF (World Wildlife Fund). The Forum helped mobilize school and neighborhood organizations, and publicized the cause…”

Within the past several years, a new generation have taken a foothold in the Save the Ridge” movement  to protect their valuable “green lung”, and the efforts are notable, but the struggle against developments, and governmental loopholes is real.

A plan developed by the Delhi forestry department stated, “There is a need for a young and passionate forestry consultant to study the soil and weather conditions, select plant species and monitor the restoration work. The department needs a technical expert for electronically mapping forest land and encroachment.”

Since then, the department has set up a conservation Education Centre to develop awareness and educate on the rich biodiversity of the Delhi Ridge. In order to conserve more areas of the ridge, the Delhi Govt in association with the DDA has developed the 692 acre Aravalli Biodiversity Park.

With 40% of the original forest footprint destroyed, more assertive, and effective action plans must be taken. Kalpavriksh’s present efforts include, “…working with the Delhi Government to streamline the tree helpline, to activate the tree authority and to suggest measures that can make the Delhi Preservation of Trees Act more meaningful.”

The Future of Urban Water

The Future of Urban Water:

What would the state of urban water be in the next couple of years?

Well, the report The Future of Urban Water: Scenarios for Urban Water Utilities in 2040 by ARUP explores trends and future scenarios for the future of urban water utilities in 2040. It is the result of a jointly funded collaboration between Arup and Sydney Water.

“The programme has helped us gain a better understanding of possible pathways into the future, including implications for future infrastructure, governance and customer experiences.”

It depicts four plausible scenarios for the future of urban water utilities in 2040, using Sydney as a reference city. The report explores how a wide range of social, technological, economic, environmental and political trends could shape the urban water future.

The World Economic Forum’s Global Risks 2014 report said water crises is one of the top five global risks posing the highest concern. “Despite this, water issues are often overlooked or misunderstood, and there is a need for better awareness of their social, economic and environmental impacts.”

The Arup report said aside from the increasing water scarcity and pollution, rapid population growth and urbanisation are “major factors posing fundamental challenges to the global water cycle, with a particular pressure on the urban water supply”.

Australia utilises over 50 percent of its water consumption for agricultural purposes. The rest is for household, industrial and commercial use. But in urban areas, “the main driver for demand remains the population, and thus population growth”.

One of the key drivers for water conservation is smart infrastructure. It responds intelligently to changes in its environment to improve performance. “It is estimated that the market size for smart grid technologies will almost triple by 2030. Smart water networks could save the industry US$12.5 billion a year.”

Another is the change to a more digital lifestyle where people will be able to monitor the consumption and cost of water in real time. “More awareness of the issues could lead to increased scrutiny of water utilities and pricing of services. The availability of data provides an opportunity to educate customers about consumption and managing resource use.”

The report also mentioned new solutions for water supply such as the extensive use of desalination. About 96 percent of the earth’s total water supply is found in oceans. “Worldwide, desalination plants are producing over 32 million cubic metres of fresh water per day. However, energy costs are currently the principal barrier to its greater use.”

Finally, the report also said green infrastructure is part of the plan. “Benefits of increased green infrastructure include the reduction of flood risk, improved health and wellbeing as well as providing a habitat for wildlife. Extensive green networks can be formed over time to create an encompassing city ecosystem that can support the sustainable movement of people, rebuild biodiversity and provide substantial climate change adaptation.”

For more of the report, you can check this out.

Citygreen - Urban Forestry eBook

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