Ten Texas environmental efforts to receive state honor

Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced the winners of the 2004 Environmental Excellence Awards (TEEA) - ten diverse environmental projects representing the state's most outstanding achievements in conservation, waste reduction and pollution prevention.

AUSTIN, Texas, April 26, 2004 -- Governor Rick Perry and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced the winners of the 2004 Environmental Excellence Awards (TEEA) - ten diverse environmental projects representing the state's most outstanding achievements in conservation, waste reduction and pollution prevention.

Recipients from across the state will be honored at the TEEA banquet on May 4 in Austin.

At the banquet, videos of each winner will demonstrate how each project addresses such environmental issues as resource conservation, watershed protection, air quality, clean energy, recycling, solid waste management, pollution prevention, and even environmental crime-fighting.

The award winners are summarized by category below:

CIVIC/NONPROFIT: River, Lakes, Bays 'N Bayous Trash Bash, Houston
The Houston-area River, Lakes, Bays 'N Bayous Trash Bash is receiving its award for an ongoing clean-up effort that's working to address the effects of nonpoint source pollution in the Gulf of Mexico and San Jacinto River watershed. Since it began in 1994, the annual Trash Bash has pulled in 48,450 volunteers who have cleaned up 1,473 tons of trash from local waterways, beaches and bayous. A community-wide effort, Trash Bash involves diverse stakeholder groups including industry, government, schools, scout troops, residents and youth groups. Trash Bash is coordinated by the Houston-Galveston Area Council and a diverse volunteer steering committee.

EDUCATION: City of Austin, Watershed Protection
The City of Austin's Grow Green program is being honored for its innovative approach to landscape education. A partnership between the City of Austin's Watershed Protection Department and the Texas Cooperative Extension, Grow Green was created in response to scientific findings that improper use of landscaping chemicals is a major source of water quality degradation in and around Austin. Through homeowner seminars, informational brochures and staff training at more than 40 area nurseries, the Grow Green program is spreading the message that choosing less toxic landscaping products protects the area's watershed.

GOVERNMENT: City of Crockett
The City of Crockett is being recognized for a progressive curbside recycling program that cuts solid waste by 52 percent - more than any other city in Texas. Initially designed to reduce costs of solid waste disposal, the program takes a hard but effective line by mandating recycling citywide. Using recycling trucks and clear bags, the Crockett system enables easier sorting of recycled goods, which are then remarketed to generate revenues for city operations. Cited by the Environmental Protection Agency as one of 18 highly successful recycling programs nationally, Crockett's recycling rates surpass the state of Texas' 40 percent goal, and far exceed many other major metropolitan areas across the country.

INDIVIDUAL: Mayor James Matz, Palm Valley
James Matz is being recognized for his ongoing efforts in reforestation and environmental conservation in the Rio Grande Valley. In an area that has seen tremendous growth and development over the past 15 years, Matz has fostered a bicultural spirit of cooperation. As founder and chairman of the Valley Proud Environmental Council, Matz has galvanized thousands of volunteers through tree- planting events, reforestation projects and clean-up efforts in communities on the U.S. and Mexican sides of the Rio Grande. Matz and Valley Proud promote the planting of native trees through All-Valley Arbor Month/Arboles de Amistad and Project Rio Reforestation. In addition, as creator and project manager of the Ramsey Nature Park project, Matz helped transform a former landfill into an outdoor classroom and a site along the Great Texas Birding Trail.

INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY: American National Power, Midlothian and San Marcos
To address issues of air quality and water conservation, American National Power designed and constructed the Midlothian and Hays Energy Projects, voluntarily setting a new standard for cleaner power in Texas. Both plants combine the use of clean burning natural gas with an innovative sequential firing technique in the combustion turbines to significantly reduce nitrogen oxide and carbon monoxide emissions. In addition to being the first plants in Texas to use this technology, the Midlothian and Hays facilities have also greatly reduced water use by replacing water-cooled condensers with air-cooled condensers in most of the turbines. The two units at Hays that rely on water-cooled condensers use reclaimed water from the City of San Marcos wastewater plant, saving a projected 100 million gallons annually from the San Marcos River.

LARGE BUSINESS-TECHNICAL: Freescale Semiconductor, Austin
Freescale Semiconductor is being recognized for its efforts in resource conservation at its Austin semiconductor manufacturing facility and office complex. The company's efforts to streamline plant and office operations save 265 million gallons of water yearly. In addition, energy consumption has been reduced by 64 million kilowatt hours every year. Freescale Semiconductor is the only three-time winner in the history of the awards program.

Horizon Milling is being recognized for its work in environmental education. Horizon initiated the innovative Water Matters program, a multifaceted approach to educating children about the importance of water conservation and protection. For eight years, Horizon employees have been teaching second through fifth graders about nonpoint source pollution and the effects of human behaviors on the environment through interdisciplinary classroom and outdoor learning. Funded by Horizon's plant recycling campaigns, Water Matters has touched the lives of more than 6,000 children in the Eagle Mountain-Saginaw School District.

SMALL BUSINESS: J-V Dirt & Loam, Austin
J-V Dirt and Loam has been working for almost 10 years to develop a better way to control erosion on Texas roads. Partnering with the Texas Department of Transportation
and TCEQ, J-V Dirt helped implement the idea to remove organic materials from Texas landfills and endangered watersheds, compost it, and apply it to eroding soils to create rich topsoil seeded with native plants. The company has installed 200 soil revegetation projects across the state of Texas that address issues of watershed improvement, water conservation as well as erosion control.

YOUTH: Carver Center, Midland
The Carver Center, Midland Independent School District's gifted and talented elementary program, is being honored in the Youth category for its nationally recognized biodiverse garden. When a baseline biodiversity survey conducted by fourth-grade students revealed the need for a more natural habitat to enable native plant and animal species to flourish, the class went to work to develop a landscape plan. Plants were donated by the Permian Basin Master Gardeners and two Junior Master Gardener chapters were formed. Local Boy Scout troops were called in to help, and Texas Cooperative extension agents got into the act by helping to educate the students on native plants and organisms. Over the past five years, hundreds of individuals from across the community have given more than 2,500 volunteer hours to turn a weedy school lot into an area alive with color and movement.

SPECIAL AWARD: Carl Redford and the Ellis County Citizens for a Clean Environment, Inc.
Environmental Crimes Investigator Carl Redford and the Ellis County Citizens for a Clean Environment (ECCCE) will receive a Special Award recognizing their humanitarian efforts on behalf of citizens of Ellis County. When Redford discovered a septic leak near the home of an elderly couple, he could have simply turned the case over for enforcement. Instead, Redford sought the help of the newly created ECCCE, a community-based organization formed to help clean up illegal dump sites in Ellis County and increase environmental awareness through education and assistance to disadvantaged citizens. Through community donations, the ECCCE built the Inmans a new septic system and got the couple a mobile home complete with a new front porch. The couple now has a safe, clean place to live, and the ECCCE is helping clean up the property of other Ellis County citizens, establishing itself as an environmental organization with a humanitarian charter.

For more information on this year's award winners, or to learn how to apply for next year's awards, visit http://www.teea.org.

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