Reflections on summer’s heat

Climate scientists predict an increase in the number of extreme heat days for the KC metro area in the coming years, and this summer seemed to align with that forecast. Two of our programs, Heartland Tree Alliance and the KCMO Recycling Drop-off Centers, take an informal measure of its impact on their work over this past summer.

Here’s what they had to say:

Heartland Tree Alliance

“Heartland Tree Alliance has been running two water trucks a day throughout KCMO and KCK this summer. We are busy supporting newly planted trees during these dry and hot months. We estimate that we’ve put down the equivalent to fill 5 backyard swimming pools! Good thing we have a great partnership with KC Water and utilize captured stormwater from the I-70 flyover in the West Bottoms. These giant cisterns fill quickly after a small rain event and allow us to reuse water that would have otherwise been flushed right into the waterway.  

We have also been getting lots of calls about trees with leaf scorch or early leaf drop. These are all common symptoms from heat and drought. Our biggest message is to keep watering! Trees have an amazing defense mechanism that will kick them into early dormancy for protection if needed. Keep watering all winter to continue to support the root system.”

Sarah Crowder, Senior Programs Manager

KCMO Recycling Drop-Off Centers

“A few years ago we implemented a heat safety policy for the three Community Recycling Centers we manage for the City of Kansas City, MO in order to protect the health and well-being of our volunteers, managers and patrons. The first provision of the policy takes effect when the heat index rises dangerously high and we send volunteers home, as we’ve had to do more than a few times this year.

Our managers continue working solo until the heat index reaches 105 degrees, at which point we shut the centers down entirely because the risk of them suffering heat stroke is simply too great. Even if we had air conditioning at the centers (we don’t), our managers cannot do their jobs sitting inside the office. We have to stack cardboard, push materials back from the windows of bins to make space, remove contamination (that is, materials that are too dirty or simply not accepted for recycling) from the bins, be readily available to answer patrons’ questions, and more.

We have had to close early several times this year, and while we understand that can be an inconvenience for everyone who was planning to come to one of our centers, we think it’s justified, and we hope you do, too. We do post to our website, Facebook and Instagram when we must close early for this or any reason, so we always recommend checking before you load your car.”

John Fish, Recycling Center Manager