Environment Texas, an Austin-based research group, made available today a report on Texas rivers that lists the state's most dangerously polluted waterways, particularly those fouled by chemicals that cause cancer and birth defects. And to mark the report's release, at 1 p.m. the group will gather media types and local pols, among them state Rep. Allen Vaught, to wag their their fingers at the Trinity River from the overlook at Commerce Street and Beckley Avenue.
The group's cover letter blames much of the Trinity's problems on "riverfront development and storm water runoff containing chemicals, trash and solid waste." The bottom line, based on scientific data, is that the Trinity is unsafe for recreational uses in Dallas. As in: "The report also finds that the Trinity River running through the Dallas/Fort Worth Area poses a high risk to recreational users." (Odd thing: There's no mention of the Trinity by name in the actual report, only on this copy of a clean-water report fowarded by Environment Texas.)
Hmm. Unsafe for recreational uses. Riverfront development a major cause for pollution. I'm trying to remember. Did Dallas Mayor Tom Leppert mention any of this when he persuaded Dallas citizens to vote in favor of building a major new highway right next to the river? Oh, sure, he must have. What responsible mayor would forget to mention that the river is already full of poison and that building a highway practically on top of it can only make things worse?
Environment Texas is funded with about two hundred grand a year in grants, some of it from our own Meadows Foundation in Dallas. Well, at least they used to get money from Meadows, until I posted this item.
Their press release praises Dallas Congresswomen Eddie Bernice Johnson for fighting the good fight in Congress for clean water. Johnson also has been the single most important funder of the Trinity River Project through earmarks, but her role has been aimed more at flood safety, not the proposed toll road next t the river. And, anyway, life's complicated.
The Environment Texas report is good reading for wonks. For the rest of us, the basic take is this: Head on down to that Trinity River park they keep promising us. Take the kids wading and fishing. Fine. Just make sure there are no grandchildren.