He’s only recently gotten an office with a view. From the old one, he could look out over a parking garage. But from this first-floor corner office, Scott Cardno can see immaculate blue skies looming over a warm Huntsville spring afternoon.
In no small way, he and his department are responsible for Huntsville’s clean air, a contrast to some nearby cities where the sky is often more khaki-colored than blue.
Cardno, 53, is the new Director of Natural Resources for the City of Huntsville, replacing Danny Shea in March. Cardno, previously Deputy Director to Shea, has been with the department since 1990, having previously worked as a contractor with Boeing.
“I’ve dealt with most everything we do here, but there’s still a learning curve,” he says. “I’m very fortunate with the people I work with here. Most of them have been here for a while and it’s a good group of folks.”
It’s also a small group of folks – with some big and varied responsibilities.
The biggest (problem) is washing out paint brushes at a storm sewer,” Cardno says. “It’s amazing how far a little paint will go in water.”
Fully staffed, the Natural Resources Department has seven employees. The department issues permits and conducts inspection regarding air quality for some 325 businesses. It maintains five air-quality monitoring stations. It handles blasting permits. It safeguards against the dangers of asbestos in construction and demolition projects. It enforces the various city ordinances on blasting, noise pollution, open burning and water pollution.
The most frequent violations by citizens are often through carelessness or simply being unaware. Cardno says he wants to instill a philosophy of “respect your neighbor” that could go a long way, whether it’s loud noise or the abuse of natural resources.
“The biggest (problem) is washing out paint brushes at a storm sewer,” Cardno says. “It’s amazing how far a little paint will go in water.”
There are the occasional issues with people who still burn leaves and with soapy water from car wash events going into the storm sewers.
Most people now refrain from dumping old pesticides or motor oil into the water system. Cardno suggested residents wanting to dispose of household materials that might be hazardous, like pesticides or fertilizer, can take them to the “Household Hazardous Roundup” at the landfill on the first Saturday morning of each month. Most quick-oil-change facilities will recycle old motor oil.
Cardno’s background is in chemistry, so he was well aware of the dangers of such materials before he joined the City of Huntsville. However, the job “has opened my eyes to things people will do, just not thinking about it sometimes.”
His other background is in the outdoors, so he’s acutely aware of the dangers and annoyances of various forms of pollution.
Cardno, a graduate of Huntsville High and UAH, was on the rowing team at UAH. That’s where he met his wife, Amy. (They have a son, Kevin, now on the UAH rowing team, and daughter Amanda.)
He and Amy still frequently row a double scull on the Tennessee River at Ditto Landing, and he’s long since surrendered rowing supremacy in the household to Kevin. Says Scott, “It’s not even close now.”
Cardno laughingly says “you can call it a midlife crisis if you want” that explains another passion. Encouraged by Amy, he competes in six or eight sprint triathlons each year, typically events with a half-mile swim, 10-12 miles on a bike, then a 5K run. Not long ago, he was runner-up in his age group in a triathlon in Gulf Shores.
“It’s just a lot of fun, a good environment,” he says. “I’m not breaking any records, but I’m out there moving around.
“I’m afraid,” he says, “if I stop I won’t start.”
You have questions about the Natural Resources Department? We have answers. Check out this Q&A with Scott.
Scott Cardno and his wife enjoy keeping healthy through a host of active sports, including running and races.