Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Through Rain, Shine, or … FOG: The Southlake Environmental Services Division and a Commitment to Southlake Safety

The grass is still fresh with the morning’s dew as the Southlake Environmental Services Division dips vials beneath the water of a pond for testing – lifting out small vestibules carrying data of mass importance as droplets fall from the glass.

It’s a diligent practice, and a crucial one at that. Without the team, the contents of the water and its safety would be a mystery.

Man holds up a glass vial with water

Wes Layfield holds up a vial of water collected for testing.

Thankfully, though, the members of the division are no strangers to ensuring Southlake consistently lives up to high environmental standards, especially when it comes to water quality.

“Environmental Services ensure our City is compliant with regional, state, and federal regulations relating to Environmental Quality,” Madisson Dunn, Environmental and Regulatory Supervisor explains. “We do this through sampling and analysis, inspections, community involvement and education, and more.”

This award-winning team works together to make sure processes are in place to test water when needed, and take appropriate action when pollutants are found. But they also implement preventative measures to try and keep pollutants from ever having the opportunity to make it into the water in the first place.

Girl holds a glass vial meant for testing water

Ines Thornlow pours powder into a vial of water to test for chlorine.

“Many people don’t realize how many ways pollutants can contaminate our water,” Ines Thornlow, Environmental Services Intern explains. “We monitor water backflow issues, irresponsible disposal of fats, oils, and grease, and manage stormwater so that waste isn’t picked up by flowing water and deposited into bodies like Grapevine Lake and Big Bear Creek.”

Despite this dedication, the team knows they can’t protect all areas of Southlake’s environment by themselves, especially with Texas posing unique challenges like severe storms in the spring and drought in the summer. That’s why they dedicate time to educating the public on ways they can help.

“We have a lot of programs and resources in place that aim to make conservation and sustainability practices as easy as possible for citizens that are eager to contribute,” Wes Layfield, Water Quality Specialist says.

These resources include the FOG (Fats, Oils, and Grease) program to help responsibly dispose of waste that can clog water systems, the W.I.S.E (Water Irrigation Systems Evaluation) Guys Program to help identify and fix faulty sprinkler systems and stop waste, and much more.

Girl scooping water out of a pond with a pitcher

Michelle Galan collects water at the edge of the pond.

This commitment to education has led to big payoffs for the Division, and for the health of Southlake’s environment as a whole.

“A big part of our job is to educate the community on responsible sustainability practices, and we see a lot of success with that,” Michelle Galan, Environmental Services Intern says. “Last year, our Holiday Grease Roundup collected 99 gallons of grease that could otherwise be disposed of improperly, and this year’s Great American Cleanup had 56 volunteers with over 35 bags of trash collected. That’s very exciting to see.”

As the team continues to test the water for harmful chemicals, it’s obvious by their determination and meticulous attention to detail that they are passionate about protecting their City – and they will continue to do so, one drop at a time.

An image of a family bowling and dining

Photo of a solar eclipse