Tell the EPA Not to Delay to Protect Clean Water
The price we pay for polluted runoff is in the unspoken cost of countless basement backups, cancelled fishing trips, and closed beaches.
Unfortunately, there are plenty of costs we can calculate as well. For instance, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) estimates that urban runoff contributes up to 25 percent of economic losses from flooding, totaling nearly $1B every year. Wet basements can decrease property values by 10 to 25 percent. An estimated 40% of small businesses never reopen following a flooding disaster.
When it rains in cities or suburban areas with lots of roads and rooftops, rainwater is unable to soak into the ground. Instead, it begins to rapidly accumulate and flows quickly along the surface where it picks up sediment, pesticides, oil, or heavy metals. The polluted urban runoff flows into storm drains where it is discharged untreated into local rivers and lakes. This can exacerbate flooding problems and in cities with combined sewer systems, can cause sewage overflows which send untreated sewage into local waters.
Rainwater isn’t the problem. Rather, it’s how we’ve dealt with it – or not dealt with it – over the years. Right now, the Environmental Protection Agency has the opportunity to update and modernize its approach to managing runoff including requiring onsite management of runoff, capturing rainwater where it falls. This would incentivize green infrastructure like green roofs and rain gardens.
Tell the EPA not to delay to protect clean water! Take action by tweeting your representatives or sending them a letter expressing concern over EPA’s delays and ask them to put pressure on the EPA to move forward on these critical updates to protect clean water and public health.