Funding Green Infrastructure in Pennsylvania

The stimulus spending for water infrastructure has spurred a change in the way that many states are approaching clean water by promoting green infrastructure and water efficiency. American Rivers staffer Liz Garland just finished a report “Funding Green Infrastructure in Pennsylvania,” and she writes:

Green infrastructure practices for stormwater management are being implemented at an unprecedented rate in Pennsylvania, largely because the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided stimulus dollars to the State Revolving Fund for water infrastructure investment, 20% of which had to be used for innovative projects including green infrastructure (called the “Green Project Reserve.” As a result, in July 2009, state funding agency PENNVEST awarded dozens of green projects with water quality goals including $1.2 million for Friends of the Pittsburgh Urban Forests to plant trees and permeable pavers to reduce polluted stormwater runoff from parking lots into the City’s combined sewer overflows. PENNVEST has administered the SRF in Pennsylvania since 1989 but it took 20 years and the Green Project Reserve to deliver funds to projects focused on using green infrastructure. 

American Rivers has investigated the spending history and authority of several agencies to fund green solutions to stormwater management in Pennsylvania. The Green Project Reserve has provided a timely model from which agencies can transform the state’s failing water infrastructure by progressively integrating greener solutions, backed by greener investments, to manage polluted stormwater runoff.

American Rivers calls for more collaborative relationships amongst funding and regulatory agencies, and stronger outreach to the municipalities responsible for managing stormwater. We recommend funding diversity with emphasis on maximizing green benefits. In fact, American Rivers supports funding driven by the principle of “green first.”

Liz will be presenting the findings of her work as part of this report at the upcoming Temple-Villanova Sustainable Stormwater Initiative workshop, “Financing Opportunities for Green Infrastructure.”

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