Environment: When Victoria grows, the city is prepared

By by Dianna Wray - DWRAY@VICAD.COM
Feb. 23, 2013 at midnight
Updated Feb. 23, 2013 at 8:24 p.m.

With Victoria's predicted growth, city officials are also preparing for the environmental needs that will come with the growth.

Jerry James, director of intergovernmental affairs for the city of Victoria, said water is one of the primary concerns of any industry when it considers where to place a new factory like Caterpillar.

"We've prepared better than most cities have at this point as far as having water supplies available for growth," James said.

Right now, Victoria has access to three times the amount of water currently needed on an annual basis. These moves were also made to protect the city during a drought, but the access to water is a part of what has made Victoria attractive to companies like Caterpillar, he said.

Concern over water supplies has kept the city from selling water to oil companies looking to pump water into the Eagle Ford Shale play as part of the hydraulic fracturing process needed to unlock the oil, but James said the city is confident it has enough water to cover issues with the ongoing drought and the birth of new industry in Victoria.

James said he and Lynn Short, the director of public works, are working together to go through the Perryman report and make sure they have covered all the bases of things that could be impacted by the predicted growth.

"We're looking at it, but I can say we're prepared for that type of growth," he said. "One of the reasons we're projected to have that kind of growth is that we have supplies available to attract those kinds of industries. That's one of the first things people ask, and we've got it."

As the growth continues, James said the city will keep a close eye on the air quality of Victoria and the surrounding seven counties to make sure they stay within their limits.

The city has also bought an additional 200 acres that may be permitted to provide landfill space as the disposal needs of the community increase.

With the new recycling measures and new technology, the possible need for landfills may even require less land than expected, he said.

"We're really uniquely situated for growth," James said.

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