Green Reserve Funding Continues!

Guest post by Peter Raabe, American Rivers’ Policy Director for Budget and Appropriations

Congress passed and the President signed the fiscal year 2010 Interior, Environment and Related Agencies Appropriations bill.  This was a feat in and of itself since this is the first time since 2004 that the bill has not been rolled up as part of a larger omnibus appropriations bill.

The bill, championed by Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Representative Norm Dicks (D-WA), is a huge break through for environmental funding.  After years of cuts under the Bush Administration, this year’s bill provides a 17% increase in funding!  This essentially brings the programs back to where they were in 2001.  Of course there is a lot more demand on those programs then there was then so we have not yet reached the Elysian Fields of environmental funding.

One of the greatest victories for rivers and communities in the bill was the continuation of the green reserve as part of the Clean Water and Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Funds.  The green reserve sets aside 20% of the total funding to be used on projects such as green infrastructure (rain gardens, green roofs, vegetative swales, etc) and water efficiency.  All-in-all the bill included $2.1 billion for the Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund (CW SRF) and $1.387 billion for the Safe Drinking Water State Revolving Loan Fund (DW SRF).  Green infrastructure projects will be eligible for at least $408 million from the CW SRF and water efficiency will be eligible for at least $269 million from the DW SRF.  This forward looking investment in 21st century water infrastructure is the continuation and solidification of a policy that was started in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

As we look for ways to make our communities more resilient to climate change, having the federal government invest our tax dollars in modernizing our water management systems is a step in the right direction!