City of Austin Performance Report 2014-15

Gallons of Pollutants Recovered as a Result of Business Inspections and Spills Response

Measure Description
This measure captures the gallons of pollutants that have been prevented from entering the City’s waterways. Staff responds on a 24-hour basis to citizen pollution complaints and emergency spills that can result in the release of hazardous materials into the environment.
Calculation Method
This sums the gallons recovered for all investigations, inspections, spills and emergency responses throughout the year. Department staff assess the actual gallons recovered for each response. Sometimes the amount can be obtained by the responsible party indicating how much was in the tank before and after the spill or via disposal receipts after cleanup. Calculations can vary based on whether the spill was on a pervious or impervious surface, and takes spill length, width and depth into consideration. For active spills like sewage releases, calculation factors include length of time flowing and flow rate.
FY 2014-15 Results
The goal for this measure was established at 700,000 gallons of pollutants. The Watershed Protection Department (WPD) prevented 693,489 gallons of pollutants from entering the City’s waterways.
Assessment of Results
In FY 2014-15, 693,489 gallons of pollutants were removed from the environment as a result of 387 stormwater inspections of businesses/industry (30 City operation inspections, 56 industrial and high risk facility inspections) and 1,246 citizen pollution complaint investigations and emergency spill responses. The goal set each year is an estimate based on prior year events. Staff cannot predict the spill events that will occur (number of spills, what is spilled, amount spilled, impact of spills) or what they will find during their inspections or investigations. For example, a one million gallon wastewater spill can dramatically increase the end of year result. 
WPD continues to see an increase in the relevance, urgency, and complexity of environmental cases. In FY 2014-15, the program dealt with significant medical waste spills, serious vehicle accidents resulting in significant bodily fluid spills as well as several large tanker and hauler rollovers on local highways requiring tanker drilling and draining, large fish kills (Bull, East Bouldin, Shoal, Williamson, and Waller Creeks), and problems and concerns during the Memorial Day flood event, including addressing floating chemical containers and dumpsters and working with Travis County to clean up transmission fluid that covered the entire lot from an overturned 350 gallon above-ground storage tank.
Watershed Protection's spill response team responding to some dumped trash.
Next Steps
The Pollution Prevention and Reduction program continues to develop partnerships with other departments and regulated entities such as Austin Water, Fire, Police, Resource Recovery, Health and Human Services, railroad and pipeline companies. Other initiatives include: project planning to identify pollution “hot spots”, obtaining a spill response contract for the Waller Creek Tunnel, furthering pollution prevention efforts for food service operations and mobile food vendors, efforts toward improved compliance with the Coal Tar Ban Ordinance, seeking new and improving existing education tools and programs such as the East Austin Environmental Initiative, and making improvements to data management.
Contact Information
For more information contact Sharon Cooper, Environmental Conservation Program Manager, at (512) 974-2448.