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Successful developers recognize the importance of working with communities to ensure a stable and satisfying quality of life. Part of insuring a high standard of living lies in addressing environmental concerns tied to potential or existing business sites.
Because they are often part of community politics, environmental issues can halt or delay even the most thought-out projects. Anticipating and examining environmental questions is therefore crucial to the development process.

The Environment in Dallas
Air Quality
Hazardous Waste
Outdoor Storage
Environmental Site Assessments
Natural Disasters
Environmental Concerns in the Development Process
Environmental Links

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The Environment in Dallas
Before starting a site or building search, use the following list of commonly asked questions to create a portrait of potential environmental concerns. Below are some useful questions to help you get started. Their focus is on the most critical factors in an environmental evaluation. It is recommended that you seek out both numeric and verbal responses to each:
  • Air Quality - Is the volume of air emissions generated by a business considered a minor or major source by the regulatory agency?
  • Hazardous Waste - What are the characteristics of the waste and the volume generated? Issues to consider include volume, transport, storage and disposal.
  • Noise, Vibration and Odor Emissions - What are the regulatory requirements in the applicable city, state?
  • Outdoor Storage - What amount and type of storage is permitted by area regulations?
  • Process Effluent - Is pretreatment required based on volume and chemical characteristics of the effluent?
  • Sanitation - What are the requirements for businesses to discharge process effluent into the sanitary sewer?
  • Water Factors - Examine the drainage, floodplain, soil structure, surface and ground water, water table, and wetlands.
  • Weather - Inquire about the climate in your proposed location, and find out about historical weather patterns.

Air Quality
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has classified the Dallas-Fort Worth area (Dallas, Tarrant, Collin, and Denton counties) as a serious non-attainment area for ozone. An attainment/non-attainment area either meets or fails federal air quality standards. Furthermore, non-attainment levels are broken down into five sub-categories: marginal, moderate, serious, severe, and extreme. The EPA categorizes areas by testing the concentration levels for six air pollutants; the allowable limits will vary by industry. The six pollutants are:

1. Carbon monoxide
2. Lead
3. Nitrogen dioxide
4. Ozone - Chiller refrigerants may have an effect.
5. Particulate matter
6. Sulfur dioxide

Although the EPA is charged with measuring air quality, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) is responsible for air permits and developing the State Implementation Plan (SIP). This plan details the efforts and commitments made by a state in fulfilling its Clean Air Act obligations.

TCEQ Air Permits Division TCEQ Air Permits Division is responsible for processing permits for facilities emitting pollutants, and permits are divided into two categories, New Source Review and Operating Permits.. The City of Dallas' Environmental Health Services Department reviews all permit requests of the TCEQ for construction and modification of operations (for facilities within Dallas) that could become sources of polluting air emissions. All facilities in the city that have the potential to contribute significantly to air pollution are inspected annually. For more information please visit dfwcleanair.com.

Hazardous Waste
Commercial and industrial hazardous waste is regulated by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission TCEQ. The yellow pages also has a listing for waste collectors. More information is provided on Industrial And Hazardous Waste Permitting on the TCEQ web site.

Above ground and Underground Storage Tanks
Above ground and underground storage tanks are regulated by the TCEQ and must be registered.

The City of Dallas Building Code provides specific information on water and wastewater service. The City of Dallas web site provides the significant requirements for establishing new water or wastewater service with Dallas Water Utilities.

The Storm Water Quality Section of the Department of Public Works and Transportation at the City of Dallas is charged with the development and implementation of a comprehensive storm water management program which includes pollution prevention measures, treatment or removal techniques, storm water monitoring of legal enforcement authority, and other appropriate means to control the quality of storm water discharged to the Municipal Separate Storm Sewer System.

Flood Plain Management
Flood plain management information may be obtained from the City's Public Works and Transportation Department.

Water Permits
Each state in the nation has an environmental agency which regulates water re-sources. Water permits in Texas are regulated by the TCEQ. Specific information about permits, drinking water, water quality management, protection and water source assessment may be found on the Office of Permitting, Remediation and Registration web page.

Ground Water
Ground water may become an issue to development contingent upon state regulations. Check the U.S. Geological Survey's website for information on local regulatory agencies.

Surface Water
Regulation of surface waters of the United States will vary from state to state. Check websites of local regulatory agencies.

These are regulated by the US Army Corps of Engineers in Texas. Jurisdiction will vary from state to state and waterbody to waterbody. Check the EPA Wetlands web site and local or state regulatory agencies to confirm jurisdictions.

Environmental Site Assessments
If you feel that you have considerable environmental concerns related to your selected site, the Economic Development Division's Brownfields Program may perform a Phase I Environmental Site Assessments for eligible properties. See below for further explanation of the three phases of ESAs.

Phase I - Recognition of Hazards. The Phase I ESA is a qualitative investigation which is conducted prior to a property transaction (purchasing, leasing) and includes a walkover of the site and a records search to determine if there are recognized environmental concerns associated with the property which may require additional investigation. This is a component of a purchaser's/lessee's due diligence.

Phase II - Analysis of Hazards. The Phase II ESA is a quantitative investigation triggered if the findings in the Phase I ESA identify recognized environmental concerns which require a subsurface (soil, water) investigation. There may be several iterations of Phase II ESAs (Phase IIa, IIb, IIc, et cetera) to fully define the vertical and horizontal extent of contamination and define the scope of work for site cleanup or remediation.

Phase III - Management of Hazards. The Phase III ESA is a remediation feasibility study based on information obtained from previous Phase I and II investigations conducted at a site. The Phase III ESA may include continued Phase II ESA activities to more fully define areas of contaminants; to fill in data gaps; and/or to provide more detailed information required to define the remediation requirements at the site.

A Phase I Environmental Site Assessments (ESA) should be conducted before purchasing a site or facility. The American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) has developed standards for Phase I and Phase II ESAs which are accepted in the environmental consulting industry. Copies of the standards in paper and electronic formats are available on the ASTM web site.

Keep in mind that land substrate (landforms, slopes, water depths and floodplain) will have an effect on the design of a facility, foundation, roadbeds, waste disposal, telecommunications, and pipelines. Furthermore, active geologic processes (faulting, subsidence, erosion, salt domes, and accretion) may have profound consequences on a development.

Natural disasters
Potential hazards such as hurricanes, tornadoes and flooding should not be forgotten. Additional information about weather and weather patterns may be found at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) website.

Points to Remember about the Environment in the Development Process

  • An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) should not be confused with a Phase I or II ESA. The EIS is required by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 for all projects which cross federal lands, require a federal permit, or use federal dollars. An EIS, or related environmental statements pursuant to NEPA, presents and evaluates alternatives to a project's environmental and socio-economic impacts to the human environment including, but not limited to, traffic systems, county services, tax base, endangered species, and cultural resources. Anyone requiring an environmental statement pursuant to NEPA, should contact the responsible federal agency for details.
  • Environmental permits will require the land owner or holder to have an in-depth knowledge of a project, as it is needed to give specifics to state regulatory agencies. Environmental issues of particular concern (depending on industry): hazardous waste, air/water quality, soil contamination, and flood plains.

Environmental Links

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