Dirt road next to wooded river passing under elevated highway.

Air & Water Quality

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What does this indicator mean?

Extent to which a community’s outdoor air or public water sources contain pollutants.

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How is this indicator useful for creating and measuring activity-friendly places?

  • To identify and address areas with poor health outcomes related to environmental pollutants (e.g., asthma).
  • To identify areas of a community experiencing higher exposures to unhealthy air or water and address the issue before residents experience deadly and costly health outcomes.
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What would help the most people benefit from this indicator?

  • Pursue measures to reduce congestion and vehicle miles traveled to reduce emissions (improving air quality) and road contaminants (e.g., tire dust, oil) washed into surface water.
  • Reduce the size of impervious surface areas (parking lots, vehicle lanes) to reduce stormwater runoff and storm-event flooding. Specifically repurpose or replace unused or underused buildings, parking lots, or other impervious areas near housing, surface water, transportation, and utility infrastructure.
  • Maximize use of low-impact development (LID) practices to minimize impervious surface and retain storm water on-site, such as drainage swales, rain and infiltration gardens, and pervious surface treatments; all of which can help mitigate flood events.
  • Increase tree canopy to reduce the heat-island effect and better capture and store stormwater runoff created by nearby roads and parking lots.
  • Create active transportation plans that identify routes to move cyclists onto streets with lower traffic volume.