News Archive June/July 2014
Texans Coping With Extended Drought through Innovation, Conservation and Planning
Dr. Alisa Rich, University of North Texas Medical Center professor of toxicology, and Sarah Walls, environmental law expert from Cantey-Hanger, outlined the difficult choices facing Texas as an ongoing drought reaches crisis stages. Dr. Rich and Walls emphasized personal responsibility for water use, as well as government actions to combat water shortages, as some of the tools necessary to ensure a stable water supply.
Dr.Rich, who spends most of her time in the field testing water supplies, said she finds toxins in the water that aren’t required to be reported by the federal government. Infants, the elderly, and those with compromised immune systems, such as persons undergoing chemo or suffering from HIV, must be protected.
“Chemicals I’m seeing are becoming pervasive because of use of pesticides and fertilizers,” she said. “Humans also return chemicals to the water supply that we consume. The chemicals become more concentrated as they accumulate in the water supply.”
She cited extensive use of water by both industrial and residential customers as contributing to the water shortage. Dr. Rich said that there is “no law” controlling use of water on residential properties. In 2008, Chesapeake Energy sited 1700 natural gas wells. Each well uses from 5-12 million gallons of water annually.
Personal conservation is one step everyone can take, Dr. Rich said. Texans can mulch, not mow, replace toilets and washing machines with more efficient models, reduce lawn sizes, and use rain water rather than potable water on lawns.
Walls said the state’s reservoirs are only 60 percent full when they should be at 80 percent full. “The situation isn’t improving,” she said. Two-thirds of cities are grappling with severe to moderate drought.
“Among the most severe situations is the water supply in Wichita Falls. By fall, the reservoir supplying drinking water to the city will be totally dry. Wichita Falls cannot conserve its way out of this problem,” she said.
The city is trying innovative approaches, such as spreading biodegradable polymers on the reservoir to prevent water loss due to evaporation. The city is also seeding clouds attempting to induce rainfall and reusing water as drinking water.
Walls lauded Fort Worth for its forward-thinking programs to reuse and conserve water. “Fort Worth is very, very good at water management,” she said. The Tarrant Regional Water District has been pulling water out of the Trinity River, cleansing it through wetlands, and returning it to the river. “In the summer, 100 percent of water is reused.”
Walls said the state made $2 billion available to develop projects that will help communities cope with water shortages. Regional planning groups are exploring projects and prioritizing them for funding. She encouraged members to review the Texas Water Development Board web site for more information.
“The 2012 state water plan projects a 2.6 trillion gallon shortage by 2060. Dallas/Fort Worth, one of the fastest growing cities in the nation, will need one trillion gallons of water for its population by 2060. Conservation could reduce our shortage by 200 million gallons of water,” she concluded.
Louisa Lim Credits Brave Mothers with Keeping
Tiananmen Square Memory Alive
At the June Women’s Policy Forum membership luncheon, National Public Radio China Correspondent Louisa Lim described a courageous campaign by mothers of young men killed in the Tiananmen Square uprising to hold the Chinese government accountable for their sons’ deaths 25 years ago.
Lim, who has written a book called “The People’s Republic of Amnesia: Tiananmen Revisited,” visited Fort Worth as part of a national book tour organized in cooperation with the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.
One of Lim’s sources for her book, Zhang XianLing, a now elderly woman whose 19-year-old son Wang Nan was killed outside of Beijing by government soldiers, made it her mission to determine the circumstances of her son’s death. She was notified 10 days after the Tiananmen Square uprising that he had died from gunshot wounds. Her discoveries were “so painful”, Lim said. She discovered from bystanders at the scene that her son was wounded, but soldiers wouldn’t allow him to be taken to a hospital. He died on the street where he was shot. Nan was buried with two other victims in a flower bed near where he was killed. Later, he was exhumed and his belongings returned to his mother.
“XianLing was prevented from performing even traditional mourning rituals at the site of his burial,” Lim said. “Every year she tries to observe the anniversary of his death, but she has been put under surveillance, detained and even placed under house arrest to prevent her from going to the site of his burial. Closed circuit TV cameras are trained on the flower bed just for her,” said Lim.
XianLing helped found a group called Tiananmen Mothers to pursue recognition and compensation from the government. “A group of elderly mothers started the first political lobbying group in China,” Lim said.
Another mother of a 17-year-old student killed in the crackdown, Tang Deying, told Lim of massive sympathetic demonstrations against the government in Chengdu. Her son was beaten, caged and mortally wounded by soldiers. Because she pressured the government for information, she received the first ever government compensation for his death.
“The topic of Tiananmen Square is so taboo in China that this woman would not tell me more details even if she knew them,” said Lim. Annually, Hong Kong residents honor the victims of Tiananmen Square uprising with a massive demonstration. This year, on June 4, a record 180,000 people attended the vigil.
Lim said: “I shared photos of this year’s demonstration with the mothers who helped me. They have no Internet or access to information other than government-sponsored news. They told me it was a great gift.”
China has successfully suppressed the history of the Tiananmen Square uprising and the deaths of an estimated 202 people at the hands of Chinese soldiers. Lim said: “As a crude experiment, I showed the famous tank man photo of the single figure standing in front of tanks in the Square to about 100 students at four major universities. Only 15 students even knew what the picture was about.
She concluded by saying: “China has sold its young people on the necessity of the crackdown because of a subsequent three decades of economic prosperity. My wish would be for my book to be translated into Chinese, although it will never be read in China. Although the Chinese people don’t speak of Tiananmen Square publicly, they are more aware of it than they indicate.”
Women’s Policy Forum of Tarrant County Hosts Briefing on Economic Issues for Women in Texas: Tarrant
On Monday, June 16, approximately 300 area leaders and influencers attended a briefing by Women’s Policy Forum on the Economic Issues for Women in Texas: Tarrant County, a regional study released by the Texas Women’s Foundation, the research and advocacy arm of Dallas Women’s Foundation, as part of a larger, state-wide research study conducted by the Center for Public Policy Priorities. Break-out discussion sessions followed the morning presentation by Texas Women’s Foundation.
“Today, Women’s Policy Forum is presenting the regional results for Tarrant and five surrounding counties to help begin a discussion about how we can assist women who are in need,” said Women’s Policy Forum Chair Rachel Malone to open the meeting.
The report in Fort Worth was sponsored by Flora Alexandra Brewer, the Women’s Policy Forum Foundation, the Community Foundation of North Texas, SafeHaven, Tarrant County College, United Way of Tarrant County, The Women’s Center and the YWCA of Fort Worth and Tarrant County.
Texas Women’s Foundation’s statewide presentation describes the economic status of women in Texas, and focuses on the critical building blocks necessary for women to achieve economic security. The regional reports break down the differences and commonalities for the nine areas: Amarillo, Austin, Dallas, El Paso, Fort Worth, Houston, McAllen, San Antonio and Tyler. The Fort Worth Metro Area Report comprises data from Hood, Johnson, Parker, Somervell, Tarrant and Wise counties.
The goal of the statewide study and its metro reports is to create a common understanding of the issues Texas women face, help communities gain a common language about the challenges and opportunities ahead, and lead all to find common solutions to improve economic security for Texas women, according to the study’s sponsors and presenters.
“Full-time working women in the Fort Worth Metro Area have median earnings of $38,111 a year. Depending on whether or not the employer pays for healthcare, 66 to 74 percent of jobs in the Fort Worth Metro Area are not paying enough for a one-parent, one-child family to make ends meet and save a little for a college education and retirement,” explained Flora Alexandra Brewer, Texas Women’s Foundation’s lead partner in the Fort Worth Metro Area. “I am excited that this study gives us a deeper understanding of what women face in the Fort Worth Metro Area, and Texas at large, which can make us much more effective in our work to address these issues so families can not only break the cycle of poverty, but move from surviving to thriving.”
“We are all here because we have a passion to make a difference in the lives of women who may not have had the same luck and opportunities along the way. We want to know the most effective way to pool our resources to truly help our sisters in need. This report is a major first step in accomplishing this,” said Malone. “Women’s Policy Forum will keep you updated as to what we learn from our break-out sessions and where we go from here.”
Following the presentation in Fort Worth, Women’s Policy Forum hosted sessions on the key building blocks of economic sustainability: education, child care, health insurance and housing.