FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Dec. 3, 2009
Keith Jones, NACWA, (202) 533-1803
Nancy Stoner, NRDC, (202) 289-2394
Broad Coalition Strongly Supports Green Infrastructure Bill Introduced in House
A broad coalition of organizations who advocate on behalf of clean water strongly supports the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act of 2009, legislation introduced today by Reps. Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.), Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), and Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio) that would promote the use of green infrastructure technologies as a way to address water quality challenges.
The culmination of hard work by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), American Rivers, the American Public Works Association (APWA), the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the Center for Neighborhood Technology (CNT), Clean Water Action, and the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA), the bill would establish a formal green infrastructure program at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ( EPA), create a grant program to help local communities plan and implement green infrastructure projects, and launch a series of federal research and resource centers around the country dedicated to better understanding and expanding the use of green infrastructure.
“This bill represents an important step forward in helping our public agency members address stormwater flows and other clean water challenges by implementing green technologies that not only are cost-effective, but add enormous aesthetic appeal to local communities,” Ken Kirk, NACWA’s executive director, said. “EPA has endorsed and supports the use of these innovative solutions that mimic nature, but regulatory barriers have hindered their widespread use. This bill will start to break down those barriers and promote greater use of green infrastructure across the nation.”
“The Green Infrastructure for Clean Water bill offers ways to fund environmentally friendly solutions to make cities healthier, more beautiful places to live while helping local economies at the same time,” said Nancy Stoner, co-director of NRDC’s Water Program. “The bill will make green infrastructure a national priority and offer grants to help communities reduce sewer overflows and stormwater pollution in a more natural and effective way. It would clean up degraded waterways and put people back to work. We hope this winning combination will move quickly through Congress.”
A 2008 National Research Council report identified numerous benefits to green infrastructure, including increased water supplies, the creation of green jobs, cost savings for communities, and a reduction of stormwater runoff, surface water discharge, as well as stormwater flows. At a time when the cost of meeting clean water obligations is climbing and revenues are falling due to the difficult economic climate, green infrastructure can stretch the ratepayer’s dollar, create jobs, and help improve water quality.
Many NACWA member agencies, including Milwaukee, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago, Portland, Ore. and others are leading the way and setting the bar for how green infrastructure can be used to address these challenges. They are undertaking projects to reduce the amount of stormwater runoff from their built environment by creating urban landscapes and streetscapes that also perform as stormwater infrastructure. While EPA is supportive of these projects, municipalities need to know that if they invest the money, they will receive credit for the benefits they generate. This new legislation will move the nation in that direction. The coalition applauds Reps. Edwards, Carnahan, and Driehaus for this forward-looking legislation and urges Congress to act on it quickly.