Growing the economy and protecting the environment are not mutually exclusive. As mayor, we led efforts which reversed decades of inattention by the City of Tuscaloosa. By focusing on results, future generations will have a healthier and more vibrant future.
Lake Nicol and Harris Lake are secondary drinking water sources for the City, and have a combined six billion gallons of water. In February 2009, our administration passed an Act that permanently preserves 1,852 acres surrounding both lakes from private development. With this dedication, these amazing natural resources will remain with the public in perpetuity and will continue to protect our watershed.
As governor, I will support the creation of a water management plan for Alabama. Our state must be on the vanguard of protecting Alabama’s natural resources.
The April 27, 2011 tornado severely damaged or destroyed over 80 percent of our Environmental Services fleet. In addition, over 1.5 million cubic yards of debris, which is enough to fill Bryant-Denny Stadium five times, found its way to landfills.
With out-of-pocket costs in the millions to replace vehicles and equipment, and knowing that years of life had been removed from landfills, our administration made a decision to provide universal curbside recycling for all residents of Tuscaloosa. Today, over 2,250 tons of materials are diverted from our landfill annually.
As we rebuilt our own facilities destroyed during the April 27, 2011 tornado, we decided to build a state-of-the-art recycling center that not only sorts, packages, and exports recyclable material, it also receives electronics, glass and an assortment of material. It is important to note that over 90 percent of our recyclable goods stay within Alabama.
The Curry Facility, which was an $8-million-dollar investment in our future, demonstrates our long-term commitment to sustainability.
As with most older cities across the nation, we struggle with aging infrastructure in terms of storm and sanitation sewers. To address this, we are investing tens of millions of dollars to vastly improve our distribution systems and enacting innovative programs to reduce overflows. We are experiencing dramatic improvements, but overflows still occur.
Transparency is paramount which is why we are the only City or authority in Alabama that provides immediate public notifications of sewer overflows through public alerts, signs and social media. In addition, when a community is impacted, our team places door hangers about the potential dangers.
Although being transparent means negative attention and headlines, the citizens of Tuscaloosa come first and the right thing to do will always be the correct course of action.
As your governor, I will carry with me the principles that have guided me as mayor. I believe protecting our environment is our moral obligation to ourselves and to future generations. I also believe environmental stewardship enhances our economy and reinforces conservation efforts for Alabama’s farmers, hunters, and fishermen. Whether its implementing a statewide water management plan, or vastly increasing transparency in our environmental efforts, we are going to ensure sustainability in all that we do.