City officials discuss approach to climate change, reducing flood damage

El Paso News

EL PASO, Texas (KTSM) — The impacts of climate change are being felt more around the country, as well as the Borderland. 

A new report from the U.N’s International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was released this week that determined expected future impacts over the next few decades. El Paso is expected to see sustained periods of triple digit heat and mass flash flooding events.

KTSM 9 News spoke with the City of El Paso’s Resilience and Sustainability Department about how the city is addressing vulnerabilities in local infrastructure, while also educating and promoting sustainability. 

Fernando Liano, Sustainability Coordinator for the City of El Paso, says the Department conducted a heat mapping study to examine the areas of town that are most susceptible to dangerously high temperatures so solutions can be made.

“Temperatures were lower around the river and around the valley, and Ascarate Park for instance and higher elevations. And temperatures were higher close to the larger arteries or I-10,” said Liano.

The data from the heat mapping study is enabling the City to make more informed decisions that’s being shared with the community.

“Areas where there’s more shade, areas where there’s more landscape, areas where there’s less hard surfaces and asphalt are areas where it’s cooler,” says Nicole Ferrini, Chief Resilience Officer for the City of El Paso. 

Ferrini says that the Resilience and Sustainability Department is able to help residents keep temperatures at their homes — as well as their energy bills — low.

“If you’re looking to re-landscape your home or your business, take a look at ways that you can cool the surface because it will, in fact, not only make a difference globally but it will make a difference in making your property less hot so that you’re using less energy,” she said.

The City of El Paso is urging residents to use desert-friendly landscaping options that can also help mitigate flood damage, while also dispelling common misconceptions.

“We have a list of approved landscape that does increase the shade, so not mistaking xeriscaping and water conservation by putting in more asphalt and concrete,” says Ferrini. 

“That actually makes our flooding issues worse because you’re starting to push more water off your property and into the street, which causes more flash flooding,” she said.

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