Green Infrastructure Helps Church Conserve Water and Mitigate Climate Change
Last week, more than 30 Latino faith leaders learned how their churches can implement and plan for green infrastructure projects in order to conserve water and mitigate climate change. Pastor Agustin Jimenez from New Hope Methodist Church in Tucson, Ariz. shared how his church converted its facility to conserve and harvest water to preserve the watershed and mitigate flooding, which is experiencing hotter conditions, higher water demand, and dwindling water supplies.
“We really wanted to find the best way to take advantage of the rainwater that was flooding the areas around the church,” said Jimenez. “Unity gives strength and we also saw this project as an opportunity to empower our community around flooding and water conservation.”
Jimenez detailed the process the church went through in its transition to add green infrastructure around the church, including the process for funding, planning and implementation. The renovations such as installing channels to guide water away from the church, planting trees for shade and adding a rain garden have helped mitigate flooding on the property, reduce heat island effects and provided much needed green space in the arid climate.
“Here in South Tucson, we live in one of the hottest parts of the city and we wanted to reduce flooding and create shade — especially now during the time of climate change and the need for green spaces,” said Joaquin Murrieta, Watershed Management Group’s Cultural Ecologist. “It is important in our work to create a relationship between humanity and what I call ‘creation.’ We wanted to create an empowered community by demonstrating to them the power and capability our community has in transforming green spaces.”
The project was completed through a partnership between the church, Watershed Management Group, Sonoran Institute, Santa Cruz Watershed Collaborative and American Rivers. The webinar was included as part of Hispanic Access Foundation’s annual conference for its Hispanic Leadership Network, which is designed to help foster the leadership capacity of Latino faith leaders.
“Americans see and experience the effects of the climate crisis in their communities every day. But Latinos are disproportionately affected by environmental factors that are detrimental to our health,” said Maite Arce, president and CEO of Hispanic Access Foundation. “Through efforts like New Hope’s green infrastructure we can help mitigate the worst impacts of climate change, protect our communities’ health, create new economic opportunities and secure a better future for our youth.