Camp Hill, PA -- American Rivers, the nation’s leading river conservation organization, today released three priorities for clean water and sustainable water infrastructure in Pennsylvania. American Rivers issued the priorities in anticipation of the report from the Governor’s Sustainable Water Infrastructure Task Force, which will be released in the coming days. The report is expected to provide analysis of issues related to cost effective and sustained investment in the state’s water and sewer infrastructure, with the goal of including these recommendations in the Governor’s fiscal year 2009-10 budget proposal.
“The task force’s recommendations are an important first step, but we need to do much more,” said Liz Garland of American Rivers. “Nature works best. Whether it’s a natural wetland filtering pollution, green roofs or a floodplain absorbing floodwaters, when we let nature work, communities save money and are better prepared to reduce pollution and weather droughts.”
American Rivers identified the following three priorities for the commonwealth’s water infrastructure:
- Nature works best and cheapest: Management and distributed funding for water should prioritize green infrastructure to maximize clean water benefits and stretch scarce dollars further
- Don’t waste money: Water management should be developed with water systems that are best suited by the scale of service to a given area (“right-sized”) to promote efficiency of operations
- Help communities be prepared: Restoration of floodplains and protection of small streams and wetlands during new development should be required
“These goals will help Pennsylvania minimize the growing gaps between increasing financial need and decreasing funding, as well as the gaps between the capacity of our water systems and the forecasted impacts of global warming,” said Garland. “In Pennsylvania, global warming will alter water availability and challenge our ability to cost- effectively provide enough clean water. By investing in green solutions, we can save money and help our communities be prepared to deal with these new challenges.”
The task force’s report supports many important practices, including water re-use, natural stormwater management, and wetlands protection. But in many areas the report fell short of offering specific recommendations to fund these key practices. American Rivers urges Governor Rendell to promote the following specific actions:
- Move toward immediate funding of proposed stormwater management projects, including: 1) Prioritize state community development grants that promote good stormwater practices over those promoting hard infrastructure 2) Develop incentive funding to prioritize restoration or reconnection of floodplains to rivers and streams 3) Encourage developers with incentive programs to set aside “green” areas in all new development
- Existing funding sources should prioritize the distribution of funds to applicants emphasizing non-structural practices
- Regulation and planning should look beyond traditional hard infrastructure and assure implementation of greener practices
“Addressing the gap between planning and implementation of sustainable solutions is an important missing link in the report’s recommendations,” said Garland. “We hope that Governor Rendell’s budget proposals will fill that gap by promoting innovative practices to ensure that Pennsylvania is a leader in sustainable water infrastructure.”
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.
Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.