New Years Resolutions for Rivers

Good thing that rivers don’t have to lose weight or else this would be pretty boring…

In 2009, our rivers will face the same things we all will – a changing climate and a major economic recession, both of which will cause profound social and environmental change. As the climate continues to warm, we’ll see more frequent floods and droughts as well as increasing global conflict while the economic crisis has already had major impacts on people and perhaps the environment through the economic recovery package.

Given what we’re facing, here are three river resolutions for 2009:

1. Pass an Economic Recovery that is good for rivers and people – As I’ve written before, the stimulus can help restore clean water and jobs by investing wisely in green infrastructure. This is no small resolution (even harder than 10 pounds!) –  as the Brooking’s Institute Thomas Mann said about the stimulus package on the News Hour:

“the biggest obstacle is figuring out a responsible way in which you can write law that gets dollars spent quickly in ways that are not udderly irresponsible – that’s the biggest challenge.”

2. Protect our small streams and wetlandsMr. Rapanos, the developer in the Court case with the same name finally was forced to pay $150,000 in fines and $750,000 to restore wetlands for the damage he caused when he destroyed wetlands to develop a shopping center. But meanwhile, the result of his effort to rollback Clean Water Act protections has been successful – enforcement of clean water violations has declined significantly, and the small streams and wetlands that are the majority of our waterways remain at risk. River resolution – pass the Clean Water Restoration Act to reaffirm clean water protections for all streams.

3. Replace the Rose Garden with a Rain Garden – okay, let’s go last to perhaps a more manageable resolution. Eat the View is advocating to replace the White House lawn with an edible organic garden, so why not a rain garden in there as well. A rain garden can help reduce some of the sewer overflows so common in DC and wouldn’t it be a good place to sign an environmentally sustainable stimulus bill… 

Happy New Year all!  What are your river resolutions?