Washington, DC – American Rivers, the nation’s leading voice for clean water and healthy rivers, today applauded Senator Cardin for taking a stand to address the pervasive problem of polluted runoff from roads and highways.
American Rivers urged swift passage of the Safe Treatment of Polluted Runoff Act of 2011.
“Senator Cardin’s bill is a critical step in reducing the millions of gallons of polluted runoff from our nation’s highways that foul our rivers and drinking water sources,” said Katherine Baer, senior director of the clean water program at American Rivers.
“Incorporating innovative strategies that capture and treat rainwater where it falls is a cost-effective way to reduce polluted runoff and flooding and extend the lifespan of existing sewer and treatment plants.”
This bill is an important step forward in addressing polluted runoff by prioritizing smart stormwater management approaches that work with the natural landscape to infiltrate rainwater where it falls and protect our clean water supplies.
The roads and highways that crisscross our country are a major source of water pollution. When rainwater falls and hits these hard surfaces, it washes pollutants like tailpipe emissions, road salt, and heavy metals into storm drains and flows untreated into our rivers and drinking water sources.
Senator Cardin’s bill is based on applying a standard already required for the construction of federal buildings, which requires maintaining a site as natural as possible to keep water from leaving the site, to federally funded highway and road projects. In other words, using this standard means these projects must include technologies to infiltrate and reuse stormwater onsite to ensure that stormwater pollution to local streams, rivers and drinking water supplies does not increase following construction.
One of the best ways to meet this standard is through green infrastructure solutions. From rain gardens to vegetated swales, these approaches restore, replicate, and protect the natural hydrology of the landscape by infiltrating stormwater where it falls. For example, Seattle’s Street Edge Alternative Program reduced the stormwater running off the street by 99% using vegetated swales and has demonstrated cost savings of 29% compared to traditional street retrofitting.
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.