In the spirit of Earth Day, I am working with staff and an energized Scottsdale Environmental Quality Advisory Board to find ways to find ways to save $GREEN$ by going GREEN. Since 1970, environmental achievements have been bipartisan with awe-inspiring results.
The Endangered Species Act brought the American bald eagle back from the brink of extinction. Protecting our bald eagle was good for our economy as well. Bird watching in Arizona generated $1.4 billion a year, according to the Tucson Audubon Society.
This column is to share a few numbers that have been on my mind and are shaping my priorities at the City Hall:
1. The City of Scottsdale’s power bill was $23 million last year. These are tax dollars funding APS instead of our community. I am pleased that the City is working on an RFP for an Energy Performance Contract. The contract will lock in a decade or more of guaranteed savings by installing solar and energy efficiency.
Many people don’t realize that conserving energy and using solar saves a tremendous amount of water too. According to the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), thermonuclear power generation (coal, nuclear) used 133 billion gallons daily in 2016. Solar panels generate electricity for 20+ years without water.
2. Six billion gallons of water are estimated to be lost to leaks daily in the United States. Replacing leaking pipes in the Indian Bend Wash (upcoming November bond) is needed to save precious drinking water. The average pool in the Valley loses 6,000 gallons to evaporation every year.
With the Colorado River’s flow projected to decrease by 5 to 20 percent over the coming decades, Scottsdale, as national leaders in water conservation, must continue along with Cities around the globe to ensure every drop of water is used again and again.
Using available technology and good policy, “water conservation” is our next great untapped reservoir.
3. 3,600 acres of Sonoran Desert, within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve boundary have not yet been acquired and protected. This week, the Mayor and City Council reaffirmed the City’s commitment to acquire these acres using the anticipated $100 million of Preserve tax dollars.
New polling from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce finds that 79 percent of voters agree that the best way to address climate change is through investments in innovation and technology.
Here in Scottsdale, there is broad based enthusiasm for conserving energy, water and land and the political will and community support to make it all happen!
-Solange Whitehead is a Scottsdale City Councilwoman.