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April 11, 2000

"How Are We Doing?"
The Official Word On Mobile & Baldwin Counties’ Environment & Education

Progress Indicators for Environmental Quality

Sanitary Per Capita Solid Waste Disposal

ENVISION STRATEGY

Provide a comprehensive organic and non-organic recycling program throughout the region.

TECHNICAL NOTES

The volume of waste disposed in landfills is influenced by the level of waste generated and the extent of recycling of materials in a community. Sanitary waste data were collected for Chastang Landfill in Mobile County and Magnolia Landfill in Baldwin County. These totals include wastes generated from residences and commercial establishments. Data for this indicator must be regarded as a rough estimate of the total waste generated in the two counties. There are two main sources of error: Deposits in these landfills may originate in counties other than their destination counties; and, wastes generated in Baldwin and Mobile Counties are sometimes deposited in landfills in other counties. In particulate, note that the amount of wastes deposited at Chastang from 1993 to 1995 underestimates the true amount generated from Mobile County. A reduction in tipping fees in 1996 for Chastang appears to have resulted in fewer exports of waste out of Mobile County.

CONCLUSION

Because of questions from the 1993-95 data for Mobile County, comparisons with Baldwin County are particularly inappropriate for those years. Per capita sanitary landfill deposits in Baldwin County fluctuated from 1993 to 1998, with a small net decline over the time period. For Mobile County, per capita deposits have declined slightly since 1996.

DAILY WASTE DISPOSAL, LBS. PER CAPITA

YearMobileBaldwin
19931.95.1
19941.85.0
19952.24.3
19963.74.5
19973.65.0
19983.34.6

Source: Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM).


Keep Mobile Beautiful Recycling Totals

ENVISION STRATEGY

Provide comprehensive organic and non-organic recycling program throughout the region.

TECHNICAL NOTES

These recycling data are not comprehensive: data from private recycling companies have generally not been available for Mobile County. These data therefore must be regarded as a sample of the recycling efforts on-going in the community. It is not known if other recycling activity, not reported here, correlate with the sampled data. In general, data from more recent years are more comprehensive than for earlier ones. Data for 1995 and 1996 are from four types of recycling: Paper products (drop boxes and curbside pick-up), phone books, clothing, and white goods. Drop box collection ended during 1996, and curbside paper recycling began thereafter. Clothing data are from recycling conducted by Goodwill Industries. White goods include large household metal appliances such as refrigerators and washing machines. Data for 1997 and 1998 include three new categories: Aluminum, plastic, and yard waste. Another new source of data, lumber/concrete recycling by the Alabama State Docks, was added for 1998.

CONCLUSION

Efforts coordinated and tracked by Keep Mobile Beautiful show an upward trend in the volume of recycled goods handled from 1995 through 1998, although total volume of recycled materials is still a small fraction of landfill deposits in Mobile County.

ANNUAL WASTE RECYCLED IN TONS

YearTotal
1995799
19961,219
19971,660
19984,103

Source: Mike Forster, Recycling Coordinator, State of Alabama; Recycled Fibers; City of Mobile Public Works Department; Earth Resources; BFI; and Keep Mobile Beautiful.


Air Pollution Standard Index, Mobile County

ENVISION STRATEGY

Recognize the importance of our natural environment to our quality of life and protect it.

TECHNICAL NOTES

The Air Pollution Standard Index summarizes air quality as affected by three major pollutants: ozone, sulfur dioxide, and PM10 (particulates). Two other, less comprehensive, indicators of air quality are also presented in this report: Ground Level Ozone (which is one of the components of the Air Pollution Standard Index), and Toxic Air Releases. Ground Level Ozone is reported separately because of recent changes in EPA regulations governing that pollutant. The Toxic Release Inventory reports data only for specific listed pollutants. The strength of the Air Pollution Standard Index is that it summarizes, in a single measure, air quality for the major classes of pollutants that are most likely to affect human health in the general population. The index ranges from 0 to 500 and above. Values less than 50 are good, 51-100 are moderate, 101 to 199 are unhealthful, 200-299 are very unhealthful, and 300 and higher are considered hazardous. In 1993, data were only reported for 56 days, and therefore the total for that year is not presented.

CONCLUSION

As measured by the Air Pollution Standard Index, overall air quality in the Mobile region continues to be good on most days. From 1991 through 1998, there appears to be a slight downward trend in the number of days in the good range.

PERCENT OF DAYS INDEX IN THE GOOD RANGE

YearIndex
199072
199186
199273
1993Incomplete
199475
199570
199670
199771
199868

Source: Environmental Protection Agency AIRS data base: http://www.epa.gov/airsweb/monpsi.htm


Toxic Air Releases in Mobile and Baldwin Counties

ENVISION STRATEGY

Recognize the importance of our natural environment to our quality of life and protect it.

TECHNICAL NOTES

Since 1987, the EPA has required many facilities to report the volume of specific toxic air releases, which are published annually in the Toxic Release Inventory (TRI). The TRI currently inventories releases for over 640 chemicals and chemical categories. The list of reportable substances changes from year to year, and in 1995, the list of chemicals which required reporting nearly doubled in size. The major releases reported in coastal Alabama, however, have been fairly consistent since 1987, with Mobile County facilities reporting for about 85 different monitored chemicals, and Baldwin County facilities averaging 12 chemicals each year. Power generation facilities have not had to report in the past, but will be included next year. It is important to note that many significant pollutants are not captured by this indicator, and therefore the TRI should not be interpreted as a summary measure of overall air quality. The TRI provides useful information about specific pollutants, but for most residents it is likely that these releases are less predictive of health outcomes than the major classes of pollutants (ozone, particulates, and sulfur dioxide) that are measured in the Air Pollution Standard Index. The increase in Baldwin County from 1991 to 1995 appears to be due to two companies that reported releases during those years, but did not report prior to 1991, nor after 1995.

CONCLUSION

The amount of toxic air releases in Mobile County declined substantially from 1987, with a high of about 50 million pounds, to the most recent level of about 20 million pounds. Even so, toxic releases remain higher in Mobile County than in all but two other counties in the U.S. Relatively few heavy industries are located in Baldwin County, consequently, the amount of releases are considerably lower there than in Mobile County.

TOXIC AIR RELEASES, MOBILE AND BALDWIN COUNTIES (Millions of lbs)

YearMobileBaldwin
198750.470.06
198850.370.05
198950.370.03
199051.000.09
199148.780.29
199249.430.37
199349.210.41
199439.910.28
199539.860.10
199634.150.01
199720.300.02

Source: EPA website: http://www.epa.gov/enviro/html/tris/


Ground Level Ozone, Chickasaw Monitoring Station

ENVISION STRATEGY

Recognize the importance of our natural environment to our quality of life and protect it.

TECHNICAL NOTES

Ground level ozone is considered an important pollutant because of its widespread effects on human health. This is in contrast to the beneficial effects of upper atmospheric ozone: “Good up high, bad nearby.” Ozone is not emitted directly, but is produced when nitrogen oxide combines with volatile organic compounds. Ozone levels are influenced substantially by weather patterns, and tend to be highest on sunny, hot days. In 1997 the Environmental Protection Agency issued a new standard for ground level ozone using the following procedure. Each metropolitan area calculates the eight hour ozone readings on a daily basis for each monitoring station. The fourth highest reading in a given year is then averaged with the preceding two years, to calculate a three year average reading. Metropolitan areas with ozone readings exceeding 0.08 parts per million, calculated this way, will be held by EPA to be in “non-attainment” of the federal standard. This standard is under review in Federal Court, and currently is not enforced. If the EPA wins the case, this standard will be applied to Mobile County. Alabama Department of Environmental Management has collected air quality data, for several years, at two sites in Mobile County: Chickasaw and Axis. The site with the highest readings, Chickasaw, are reported here. Data for the most recent three years, 1997-1999, are provisional, and must be quality assured by ADEM before becoming official.

CONCLUSION

If the EPA standard for ground level ozone is enforced for the 1997-99 period, Mobile County will be judged to be in non-attainment.

GROUND LEVEL OZONE, 3 YEAR AVERAGES OF 4TH HIGHEST 8 HOUR READINGS (in Parts per Million)

1994-60.078
1995-70.081
1996-80.087
1997-90.088

Source: Mike Hofto, Technical Committee Chair, Ground Level Ozone Reduction Initiative, using data gathered by Alabama Department of Environmental Management.


Land Urbanization Per Capita, Mobile and Baldwin Counties, 1975 and 1997

ENVISION STRATEGY

Recognize the importance of our natural environment to our quality of life and protect it. Develop and maintain green areas in our parks and throughout the community.

TECHNICAL NOTES

“Green areas” include parks and undeveloped lands which are characterized by high concentration of vegetation and wildlife, and contain very few structures built by humans. Green areas provide numerous benefits, including control of storm water runoff, prevention of pollution of area waterways, improvements in air quality, provision of habitat for animal species and recreational opportunities for humans. The findings come from three studies, one conducted in 1975 by the South Alabama Regional Planning Commission and two others in 1997 by local Soil and Water Conservation Districts. The studies used somewhat different methodologies, and thus findings regarding trends must be regarded as approximate. The studies estimated the total number of acres urbanized in Mobile and Baldwin Counties. Lands were coded as urbanized if they had built structures, including buildings, roads, or utilities. Total acreage urbanized was divided by population size for each county, resulting in the measure: urbanized acres per capita. In addition, to show the rate of growth in land urbanization, a ratio was calculated by totaling the net growth of urbanized acres from 1975 to 1997, and dividing by the total growth in population size for the same time period. This ratio represents an estimate of the rate of growth in urban sprawl in the two counties, net of growth in the size of the population.

CONCLUSION

The total size of urbanized lands increased from 1975 to 1997 for both Mobile and Baldwin Counties, even after taking into account increases in the size of the population. The total amount of urbanized land per person is greater in Baldwin County, but the rate of increase in urbanization per capita, over the 22 year period, is greater in Mobile County. For every new person added to the population in Mobile County, 1.4 acres were urbanized. The comparable ratio for Baldwin County was 0.75 acre. Continued growth in urbanization, above and beyond growth in population, will result in increased stress on the natural environment.

NUMBER OF ACRES URBANIZED PER PERSON

YearMobileBaldwinAcres Urbanized/Pop. Increase ‘75-’97
19750.250.460.75
19970.430.591.40

Source: Socio-Economic Analysis of the Mobile/Baldwin 208 Area, South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, 1997; The Watersheds of Baldwin County, Locally Led Conservation/Watershed Assessment, Baldwin County Soil and Water Conservation District, 1998; Conservation/Watershed Assessment, Mobile County Soil and Water Conservation District, 1998; U.S. Census Bureau. Compiled by George Crozier, Dauphin Island Sea Lab.


Septic Tank Permits and Population Growth, Mobile County

ENVISION STRATEGY

Eliminate septic tanks where sewer service is available.

TECHNICAL NOTES

Total number of septic tank permits issued by Mobile County Health Department are reported. Changes in population size are calculated using U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Data on new accounts with centralized sewer systems are not available.

CONCLUSION

The number of septic tanks permits issued for Mobile County increased from 1991 to 1998, despite slow growth in the total size of the population. It appears that demand for septic tank permits in Mobile County occurs independently of the rate of growth in the population. Growth in septic tank permits may be associated with migration within the county from areas serviced by sewer systems, to areas without such service.

NUMBER OF SEPTIC TANK PERMITS & POPULATION GROWTH

YearPermitsPopulation Growth
199113083821
199214925164
199318215746
199420741958
1995188912
19962144611
199720581765
199820801197

Source: Semoon Chang, as reported by the Center for Business and Economic Research, College of Business and Management Studies, University of South Alabama, Mobile; U.S. Bureau of Census, compiled by the Center for Demographic and Cultural Research, Auburn University, Montgomery, AL.

Septic Tank Permits and Population Growth, Baldwin County

ENVISION STRATEGY

Eliminate septic tanks where sewer service is available.

TECHNICAL NOTES

Total number of septic tank permits issued by Baldwin County Health Department are reported. Changes in population size are calculated using U.S. Census Bureau estimates. Data on new accounts with centralized sewer systems are not available.

CONCLUSION

The number of septic tanks permits issued for Mobile County increased from 1994 to 1998 corresponds closely to growth in the population. In 1994, for every 2.8 new persons in the County, one new septic tank permit was issued. In 1998, the ratio was 2.6 new persons for each new permit issued.

NUMBER OF SEPTIC TANK PERMITS & POPULATION GROWTH

YearPermitsPopulation Growth
199417494939
199517014125
199617234323
199716054563
199815574008

Source: Semoon Chang, as reported by the Center for Business and Economic Research, College of Business and Management Studies, University of South Alabama, Mobile; U.S. Bureau of Census, compiled by the Center for Demographic and Cultural Research, Auburn University, Montgomery, AL.


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