Apr 23, 2007

El Paso Receives State Environmental Awards

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality handed out various environmental awards to the city of El Paso.

The Center for Environmental Resource Management (CERM) at the University of Texas at El Paso was awarded the state’s highest environmental achievement: the Texas Environmental Excellence Award. The center is one of only 12 winners in the state to be recognized.

The El Paso Times reports that representatives of CERM will receive the award on May 2 at the 2007 Texas Environmental Excellence Awards banquet in Austin, Texas. CERM was honored for its Health Home Environments for the Paso del Norte (HHE) program.

The HHE program was designed to help residents learn how to survive in unincorporated subdivisions with little or no infrastructure. The program is targeted towards lower income residents living in El Paso, New Mexico, Sunland Park and across the border in Ciudad.

The HHE program teaches families who don't have potable water and sewage about water disinfection, the use of waterless toilets, appropriate solid waste disposal, and how to use less-toxic alternatives for household cleaning and insect control.

According to the El Paso Times, the project benefits the environment by decreasing surface and groundwater pollution.

Funding for HHE is provided by CERM at the University of El Paso, the Paso del Norte Health Foundation, and Johnson & Johnson.

The TCEQ annually presents the Texas Environmental Excellence Awards to environmental projects across the state that demonstrate excellence in resource conservation, waste reduction, and pollution prevention.

Another award will be given to researchers at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station (TAES) in El Paso. The TAES was recognized in the agriculture category, and has earned the award for its achievements in water quality research. The Elp Paso Times reports that the institute's staff provided laboratory services for two state agencies in two large-scale pollution source tracking projects that identified whether agriculture activities, wildlife, or humans were responsible for particular bacteria found in specific watersheds. By pinpointing the sources of pollution, resource managers can develop effective pollution control strategies to ensure water is drinkable and safe for recreational users.

Using data obtained in these projects, communities can develop management plans that help protect our water resources by reducing fecal pollution and improving the water quality for drinking supplies and for recreational users.