Senator Udall Introduces Green Infrastructure Bill

As I stood outside a metro stop, waiting under an overhang as the rain poured down during one of the District’s hot summer thunderstorms, I watched as water slowly began rising in the street. After about five minutes, cars were swerving to avoid the water that lapped up to the height of the curb. This is stormwater runoff, the unseen water that most of us ignore once it’s fallen as rain and flows…somewhere.

That “somewhere” is where many of the problems arise when you talk about stormwater runoff. With aging infrastructure, increasing population growth, and poorly planned development, the amount of impervious surfaces like roads and driveways is steadily increasing. When an area is covered in these impervious surfaces, stormwater has nowhere to infiltrate and runs along the surface collecting contaminants like pesticides and heavy metals which ultimately end up in our rivers and streams.

Polluted stormwater runoff strains our water infrastructure and impairs the quality of our clean water supplies, threatening the health and sustainability of our communities. That’s why we need to invest in “green infrastructure” —  a cost-effective approach to water management that uses techniques like rain gardens, green roofs, and permeable pavements – and provides multiple economic and environmental benefits to communities.

Senators Tom Udall from New Mexico and Sheldon Whitehouse from Rhode Island introduced the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act of 2010 (S. 3561), a bill that prioritizes green infrastructure as an alternative to traditional hard infrastructure fixes. Based on the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act of 2009 (H.R. 4202) introduced by Representative Donna Edwards from Maryland, both of these bills create green infrastructure centers of excellence for research, funding for communities to develop and implement these technologies, and pathways for EPA to being incorporating green infrastructure practices into its enforcement and permitting programs. 

This is another huge step forward to promoting the use of green infrastructure, not just as a best management practice, but as a well-established norm along with traditional hard infrastructure. Help support green infrastructure in your community by telling your representatives to co-sponsor S. 3561 and H.R. 4202 today!