Testifying on Green Infrastructure

Last week I had the opportunity to testify at a House hearing about a new EPA initiative called “integrated permitting.” The Agency’s idea is to look at ways to evaluate various Clean Water Act requirements together to see how they could be integrated. For example, if a city has pollution problems from urban stormwater runoff and sewer overflows, are there a set of solutions to address both of these together that might be more cost effective and sustainable?

This idea generally makes sense – there’s a real need to manage water as water and not in a bunch of disparate “silos.”  At the same time, as we approach the 40th Anniversary of the Clean Water Act, it’s also critical to redouble our efforts to achieve fishable and swimmable waters, and to not rollback our clean water protections.

That’s why I testified at the Water Resources Subcommittee Hearing emphasizing the following main points:

  • The fundamental structure and goals of the Clean Water Act must be preserved – Water quality standards are the backbone of the Act and serve to protect human health and the environment. Any integrated permitting approach must achieve the Clean Water Act’s goals in the most sensible, efficient way, and not weaken the Act’s fundamental protection of streams and rivers that provide drinking water for roughly two-thirds of all Americans;
  • Smart, green infrastructure must drive this approach – Smart infrastructure approaches, including green roofs, rain gardens and water efficiency, have far-reaching and multiple benefits – reducing stormwater runoff and sewage overflows, recharging drinking water supplies, and creating green space – made all the more valuable in this current fiscal climate. Prioritizing these approaches will lead to better integration of water resources management – and cleaner water in our rivers.

Next steps for EPA will be to hold listening sessions around the country and then propose a draft framework for how this could work – American Rivers will be participating – stay tuned for more…

To read the full testimony click here [PDF].