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In the News: News from April 2019

EPA, CAPCOG partner on travel efficiency assessment project

Thursday, April 25, 2019

The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Office of Transportation and Air Quality selected CAPCOG for a technical assistance partnership to assess the emissions and fuel consumption impacts of implementing travel efficiency strategies, which will help the region’s decision-makers understand how to improve air quality through such strategies.

CAPCOG will work with stakeholders to develop scenarios involving implementation of strategies, such as expanding public transit, increasing van and carpools, instituting speed limit reductions and more. The EPA will then produce a report detailing how the strategies could reduce emissions and fuel consumption. The project will help transportation stakeholders prioritize strategies for reducing air pollution that draw from and contribute to regional transportation planning efforts. Several local agencies agreed to participate in the analysis by supplying data; they include the Capital Area Metropolitan Transit Authority, CARTS, Central Texas Regional Mobility Authority, the City of Austin, Travis County, and the Federal Highway Administration.

Since the Austin-Round Rock-Georgetown metro area is one of the largest in the nation that meets the EPA’s National Ambient Air Quality Standards and is expected to double its population during the next 20 years, the project’s completion could assist the region in reducing the risk of violating the national standards and provide useful information to other communities considering similar efforts. CAPCOG estimates transportation sources account for almost half the region’s nitrogen oxides (NOX) emissions, the key contributor to ground-level ozone and an important contributor to other air pollutants.

> Read about the CAPCOG Air Quality Program.

Older Americans Month helps older adults connect, create, contribute

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

CAPCOG and its Area Agency on Aging of the Capital Area want central Texas communities to join them during the month of May in recognizing that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks and lives. For 56 years, communities around the nation have recognized May as Older Americans Month and this year the Administration of Community Living, which spearheads the awareness campaign, encourages older adults and their communities to:

  • Connect with friends, family, and local services and resources.
  • Create through activities that promote learning, health, and personal enrichment. 
  • Contribute time, talent, and life experience to benefit others. 

“All of these actions bring meaning of our lives,” said Patty Bordie, CAPCOG’s Area Agency on Aging director. “We all want purpose to our lives and these actions help older adults feel like they are still mastering something, still contributing, and that is better for their health and ours. If you are active, then you are healthy.”

CAPCOG offers many programs that provide older adults opportunities to create, connect and contribute such as its health and wellness programs, which bring people together to learn how maintain and manage their health by reducing falling risk or managing chronic illnesses. Congregate meal programs and local municipal run senior centers also provide venues for older adults to connect, create and contribute though an active and engaging social environment. During the month, CAPCOG will go beyond its normal programs and provide activities and share information designed to highlight local programs that promote increased connections for older adults through lifelong learning, health and wellness, volunteering and community engagement across generations.

The CAPCOG Executive Committee is set to recognize Older Americans Month with a resolution on April 10.

> View the CAPCOG Older Americans Month resolution.
> Learn more about AAACAP.org.
> Find more activities to celebrate Older Americans.

CAPCOG recommends homeland security grants projects

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

The CAPCOG Executive Committee and its Homeland Security Task Force prioritized 40 projects that requested funding from the Texas Office of the Governor State Homeland Security Program. The state program will award funding in August 2019 using CAPCOG’s prioritization as a recommendation. CAPCOG anticipates between 16 and 20 of them will receive some level of funding based on previous years’ awards.

“Projects that received a high prioritization were those that strengthened the region’s ability to provide a coordinated regional response to terroristic events to which a single jurisdiction could not respond,” said Martin Ritchey, CAPCOG homeland security director. “As every year, CAPCOG relied on the expertise of emergency managers and first responders to help prioritize these projects.” The projects ranged from planning and training projects to purchasing specialized equipment for professional response teams and additional resources for volunteer recovery teams.

The Homeland Security Task Force reviewed and ranked each project based on its nexus to terrorism; its core capability to fill gaps as identified in the regional State Preparedness Report; their ability to demonstrate a regional approach to preparedness, response, recovery and mitigation; and their ability to either sustain, build, or expand existing homeland security programs. In previous years, CAPCOG area projects have received between $1.3 million and $1.6 million in funding from the grant program. During the 2019 application process, applications for requested projects totaled more than $6 million.

> Read about the grant process.
> Learn more about the homeland security division.

National air quality campaign important to region

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Air Quality Awareness Week is a national campaign that recognizes the importance of clean air for our health and wellbeing while educating people about the air quality index (AQI) and how they can protect their local air quality. CAPCOG will join national partners, such as the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Weather Services, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and encourage local jurisdictions to participate in the awareness campaign from April 29 to May 3.

While Central Texas’ air quality is improving, it is important to participate this campaign because the CAPCOG region is still at risk of violating federal health-based standards for pollution levels. In 2018, regional air pollution levels were considered “moderate” or worse for more than 35 percent of the year, and this poor air quality particularly affects children, older adults, and people with lung and heart disease, demographics that make up two out of five Central Texas residents.

The 2019 Air Quality Awareness Week theme is Check the AQI and Get Outside. Each day will focus on a different topic encouraging people to check the AQI for the best times to be active outdoors.

The CAPCOG Executive Committee is set to declare April 29 through May 3 Air Quality Awareness Week on April 10. Local jurisdictions and other agencies get the resolution at capcog.org/divisions/regional-services/air-quality to draft proclamations.

> Participate by sharing Facebook post.
> Participate by sharing Twitter post.
> For more information, contact Anton Cox, CAPCOG air quality program specialist.
> Learn more about the Air Quality Program.

CAPCOG calls for Orthoimagery projects, geospatial savings

Tuesday, April 09, 2019

CAPCOG is coordinating the purchase of geospatial data through its 2020 Capital Area Orthoimagery Project in partnership with Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS) Strategic Mapping Program (StratMap) as a regional cooperative effort to save local jurisdictions money. There is a May 31 deadline to submit projects.

Orthoimagery is scale-corrected so governments, utilities, planners, developers and others can use it as an accurate base map or reference to create vector data —points, lines, and polygons that represent those features in the imagery. This allows for accurate measurements and can be overlaid with other data in geographic information systems (GIS) to produce maps and conduct spatial analysis.

Local jurisdictions can experience savings on purchasing higher resolution orthoimagery, 6-inch or higher, based on the volume of participants and by not duplicating project procurement. Higher resolution imagery is most common for infrastructure planning and mapping projects. CAPCOG will purchase 12-inch resolution imagery across the region for areas where higher resolution imagery is not purchased. A conservative budget estimate to participate in the project is about $100 per square mile of 6-inch orthoimagery; however, the 2019 Capital Area Orthoimagery Project purchased 6-inch resolution for $75 per square mile.

Local jurisdictions also can procure other geospatial products, such as LiDAR which is valuable for flood modeling and other elevation-based analyses, directly through StratMap to further save during this program cycle.

> Join the Capital Area Orthoimagery Project.
> Order other StratMap geospatial products through StratMap.

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