Chandler recently earned the only A+ grade on the Valley Forward 2008 Environmental Report Card. Valley Forward, an organization that has worked regionally for nearly 40 years to improve environmental quality while encouraging economic growth in Valley cities, produces the report card every few years.
Each of the 11 participating cities was evaluated in four areas: air, land, transportation and water. Chandler’s highest mark was received in the area of water and was noted as being a “role model” for other providers of water service in the Valley.
Preserving this precious resource is a must in order to meet future demands that come with growth. Chandler demonstrates conservation efforts through a number of programs available to help residents learn more about saving water and also through the use of reclaimed water. The report also highlighted the unique enhancement to our water source through Chandler’s recent partnership with the Town of Gilbert for a joint water treatment plant. Beyond the cost savings achieved in this joint venture, another benefit is the ability to provide a second source of surface water for our residents.
Air, land, transportation and water are four areas that extend beyond Chandler’s boundaries and underscore the importance of working regionally on these issues. Through my participation in Valley Metro/Regional Public Transportation Authority and the Arizona Municipal Water Users Association, I have learned the value of looking for ways to address current and future transportation and water needs. Often, the solutions are found through a regional approach.
Land and air concerns are equally important. When it comes to land, Chandler scored an A-. The city’s General Plan encourages land use planning that is beneficial to the city, whether it’s infrastructure or sustainable neighborhoods. Chandler residents have come to appreciate this dedication to thoughtful planning. Chandler is also committed to maintaining and creating new recreational opportunities. This is evident in the growing number of neighborhood parks and recreational centers such as the Tumbleweed Recreation Center and Paseo Trail.
To fully enjoy these recreational experiences, air quality plays a role. Chandler participates in the Maricopa County Travel Reduction program. As part of this program, nearly half of all city employees work a compressed work schedule, eliminating a drive to work at least one day each week.
Chandler also promotes alternative transit to help lower the number of vehicles operating on city streets.
On another note, Chandler is making strides to educate residents on ways to reduce particulate matter also known as PM-10. While air quality is monitored through Maricopa County, Chandler is doing its part by encouraging residents to reduce driving, avoid driving in dirt, and using electric lawn equipment. PM-10 can be lowered if everyone makes some simple modifications. Chandler received a B when graded on air.
In the area of transportation, Chandler earned an A. From the small farming community that it once was, Chandler has emerged as a dynamic, progressive city. Chandler has incorporated pedestrian-oriented development, bike paths and special road improvements designed specifically for bus lanes to improve travel times.
Chandler is also in the process of developing a green building program that will incorporate “green” standards for residential, commercial and government buildings. The city will continue to do its homework to further these efforts. Although, participation in the report card process is voluntary, it’s a great way for Valley communities to celebrate successes, see where we can do better and work toward continuous improvement. As cities and towns work collectively to contribute to this project, the Valley will continue to grow, and maintain the standards of livability and sustainability its residents have come to expect.
Trinity Donovan is a member of the Chandler City Council.