Summit informs Valley residents about environment

SOUTH PADRE ISLAND — It was a meeting of the minds to inform area residents about the environment.

More than 200 people attended the Valley Environmental Summit at the South Padre Island Convention Center Friday to hear expert points of view and plug their ideas about the environment, energy and waste issues.

“The Valley is just growing by leaps and bounds and part of the challenge of a community growing like this community is down here is trying to keep up with the environmental regulations and health aspects and have enough water for everyone,” said Toby Baker, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality commissioner. “To be here and to be part of this is really important.”

Baker said the conference was a great way to get the community aware of what’s going on.

“I’m excited that the conference is here. To me, this is the heart of what we need to be most concerned about,” SPI Councilwoman Theresa Metty said.

She said the beach and the bay are an incredible natural resource in the Valley.

“We have two shorelines down here and preserving them is important because people won’t come here if we don’t have an incredible bay and incredible beach,” Metty said.

The event consisted of breakout sessions and a lunch in between.

Some of the topics during the breakout sessions were water pollution, energy efficiency and waste initiatives.

“It’s a one-day event that has gone on for seven years,” said Omar Rios, Valley Environmental Summit president. “It was a very good event and we had a good turnout this year.”

San Benito resident Mathew Barraz, 17, said it was a great conference. He was there to support his cousin Victoria Bender, who was awarded second place for her 60-second public service announcement video.

Her video, which Barraz played a role in, was a call to action to help the environment by recycling and conserving water and energy.

“It’s real important to have this conference because its Valley-wide and we reach out to the schools,” Rios said. “We want to keep the topics fresh and to have the general public come and give us ideas.”

The Environment Summit engages the communities to work together to improve their environments and quality of life.

“The summit is an excellent way to bring people from different areas and bring them all together to have a focus core discussion of what we have to do for Texas,” said Jorge Platas, Valley Proud, board of directors.