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Mature Trees cool earth's surface. Gas leaks R killing mature trees. Detect & fix leak before more trees die



Cambridge Home Energy Efficiency Team (HEET) mapped elevated levels of gas throughout the streets of Cambridge by driving on each street in June and July of 2014. (/ Their study shows more than 300 methane leaks throughout the City. They also tested empty tree wells for presence of methane, major component of natural gas. A correlation between an empty tree well (which formerly held a tree) and elevated levels of methane was high. The methane in soil presumably displaces oxygen needed for tree health. 

The more broad a tree canopy in neighborhoods throughout the city, the lower surface temperatures will be. Mature Trees are especially valuable in providing critical canopy. Preventing the death of mature trees seems much more cost effective than replanting with saplings.

Proposal is for the city to purchase a high precision methane analyzer for the Arborist. This will allow the city to ensure no active leaks where new tree is planted and possibly to recoup cost of dead/dying tree from the utility company. (see Massachusetts Shade Tree Trust)

Category of the action


Who will take these actions?

The arborist will purchase equipment and train staff & tree planting consultants in use. Would be part of the standard operating procedure for tree planting to check for leaks prior to putting tree in ground. 

I propose the equipment be available for neighboring municipalities & large private property owners. If their trees are healthy we all benefit!

What are other key benefits?

Improving the health of our urban tree canopy will have benefits beyond reducing local surface temperatures. It will improve animal and insect habitat, increase property values, increase privacy, improve the pedestrian experience and help with stormwater management. 

What are the proposal’s costs?

Cost of the instrument is likely to be less than $10,000. Once a leak is detected, the gas company must repair the leak before tree planting. Repairing gas leaks should not cost the city. It may in fact, save citizens money on their bill in the long run if the utility company does repair leaks. 

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