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Natural resources are among a community’s most valuable assets. Their benefits are easy to take for granted, but critical to our well-being, including clean air and water. Caring for the environment protects public health and ensures that unspoiled natural resources will remain available to future generations.
Overall, Erie County residents benefit from responsible environmental management. The county’s air quality has improved three years in a row, and nearly everyone who lives here has access to clean drinking water. County residents also are taking steps – albeit small ones – to reduce their carbon footprints by buying alternative-fuel vehicles in slightly larger numbers. There is, however, room to improve. While Erie generates less waste per person than the state average, the county’s recycling rate has been declining steadily for 10 years.
Air quality ratings measure levels of pollutants that can cause short-term respiratory distress and worsen existing medical conditions such as asthma and heart disease. In 2017, 79% of days with air quality measurements in Erie County were rated as good, the second highest percentage recorded since 2000. By comparison, Luzerne County, PA has had consistently higher air quality ratings since 2006 than Erie.
In 2016, 100% of the population in Erie County had access to community water systems compliant with state standards for safe drinking water. This percentage has been consistent (at 99%-100%) since 2012.
Relatively few vehicles registered in Erie County (less than 1%) use fuel sources other than gasoline or diesel, such as electric, hybrid, flex fuel and natural gas, on par with the state’s share (0.6%). While Erie’s percentage has changed little since 2014, the raw number of alternative-fuel vehicles registered here increased 37%, from 912 in 2014 to 1,245 in 2017.
Recycling conserves raw materials, keeps waste out of landfills, and conserves energy compared with new material production. In 2015, 0.2 tons of waste per capita were recycled in Erie County, down from 0.6 in 2006. This means Erie County recycled 110,000 thousand fewer tons of waste than it did in 2006. The recycling rate in Luzerne County, PA in 2015 was significantly higher, at 0.5 tons per person.
Solid waste that is not recycled is typically disposed of in landfills or waste-to-energy facilities. Erie County generated 1 ton of solid waste per capita in 2017. This rate was simliar to five years earlier, but lower than the statewide rate of 1.2.
|INDICATORS||TREND | ERIE COUNTY|
|Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Establishments||Maintaining|
|Arts, Entertainment and Recreation Employees||Increasing|
|Drug Abuse Arrests||Maintaining|
|Voter Participation Rate||Increasing|
|Population by Age||Not Applicable|
|Population by Race/Ethnicity||Not Applicable|
|Change in Total Population||Decreasing|
|Foreign Born Population||Increasing|
|Household Types||Not Applicable|
|Average Household Size||Maintaining|
|Median Household Income||Maintaining|
|Change in Average Salary||Decreasing|
|Unemployment Rate by Race/Ethnicity||Not Applicable|
|Change in Employment by Sector||Not Applicable|
|People Living in Poverty||Increasing|
|People Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity||Not Applicable|
|Children Living in Poverty||Increasing|
|Children Living in Poverty, by Race/Ethnicity||Not Applicable|
|People Living in Poverty by Education Level||Not Applicable|
|Homeownership Rate by Race/Ethnicity||Not Applicable|
|Housing Affordability for Homeowners||Maintaining|
|Student Performance in Grade 3 Reading||Increasing|
|Student Performance in Grade 3 Math||Increasing|
|High School Cohort Graduation Rate||Maintaining|
|Per Student Spending||Maintaining|
|Education Level of Adults||Not Applicable|
|Education Levels of Adults, by Race/Ethnicity||Not Applicable|
|Recycling Tons Per Capita||Maintaining|
|Solid Waste Per Capita||Maintaining|
|Vehicles by Fuel Type||Not Applicable|
|Death from Heart Disease||Decreasing|
|Death from Cancer||Decreasing|
|Death from Stroke||Decreasing|
|Death from Chronic Lower Respiratory Disease||Increasing|
|People Without Healthcare Coverage||Decreasing|
|People Without a Primary Care Physician||Increasing|
|People Who Cannot Afford Healthcare||Decreasing|
|Adults Who are Overweight or Obese||Increasing|
|Children Who are Overweight or Obese||Increasing|
|Teens Who are Overweight or Obese||Increasing|
|Physically Inactive Adults||Decreasing|
|Low Birth Weight Babies||Not Applicable|
|Live Births to Teen Mothers||Decreasing|
|Non Smoking During Pregnancy||Increasing|
|Early Prenatal Care||Increasing|