American Rivers’ 21st century water solutions highlighted at Congressional hearing in Philadelphia

Green infrastructure benefits clean water, local economies

May 18th, 2009

Liz Garland, American Rivers, 717-763-0742

Philadelphia – Building on recent success securing an unprecedented $6 billion for clean water and green infrastructure in the federal economic recovery package, American Rivers testified today at a Congressional Field Hearing in Philadelphia to demonstrate how 21st century clean water solutions can benefit communities and local economies.

The hearing, Vibrant Communities, Healthy Waters, and Job Opportunities: Exploring Green Infrastructure and Role of Federal Policy, convened by Representatives Robert Brady (PA-1), Chaka Fattah (PA-2), and Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), was organized to examine the role of federal policy in advancing green infrastructure as a means of improving water and air quality, enhancing the livability of dense urban areas, and creating green job opportunities.

Liz Garland, associate director of the Pennsylvania clean water program for American Rivers, testified before the committee and made the following statement:

“Green infrastructure is the most cost-effective, reliable, and flexible way for communities to deal with the impacts of climate change and provide a wide array of valuable benefits to people and wildlife.  Green infrastructure means planting trees and restoring wetlands to naturally filter water, rather than building a costly new water treatment plant.  It means choosing water efficiency and using captured rainwater instead of building a new water supply dam.  It means restoring floodplains to protect communities instead of building taller levees.”  

“This hearing is an example of Congress’ readiness to move Pennsylvania’s and the nation’s water management into the 21st century by focusing on green infrastructure solutions.”

“American Rivers was instrumental in securing $6 billion for clean water and green infrastructure in the economic recovery package, and now we are making sure this money is put to good use in Pennsylvania and nationwide. Pennsylvania has roughly $50 million to spend on green infrastructure projects to create jobs, protect clean water, boost water supplies, and prepare communities for the impacts of climate change.”

“The smart infrastructure approaches discussed in today’s hearing have far-reaching benefits. They reduce stormwater pollution, recharge drinking water supplies, and create valuable green space. They also cost less and create jobs here at home.  Covering just one percent of large buildings in America’s cities with green roofs would create over 190,000 jobs and a $1 billion investment in water efficiency would produce up to 22,000 jobs.”

American Rivers made the following recommendations at today’s hearing:

1. Integrate green infrastructure into broader water infrastructure spending and programs. Mandatory set-asides in federal funding are critical in advancing these new approaches in the near-term, but future solutions must fully integrate green and traditional approaches.

2. Support stand-alone legislative initiatives, such as Representative Schwartz’s Green Communities Act (HR2222), to increase funding and technical assistance for green infrastructure in communities nationwide.

3. Provide authorization for EPA’s WaterSense water efficiency program.

4. Fully implement Section 438 of the Energy Independence and Security Act that requires federal facilities to manage stormwater on-site and maintain the natural flow of water over the land.

5. Hold federal agencies accountable for facilitating and fostering green infrastructure in their policies, practices, and spending decisions.

6. Protect and restore existing natural infrastructure (like forests, wetlands and floodplains) critical for clean water by passing legislation to affirm the historic protections of small streams and wetlands afforded by the federal Clean Water Act.

7. Support research and development for innovative integrated green infrastructure but do not postpone investing in these smart strategies today.

To view the full testimony, click here.

Learn more about green infrastructure:
http://www.americanrivers.org/our-work/global-warming-and-rivers/infrastructure/


###

About American Rivers

About American Rivers

American Rivers protects wild rivers, restores damaged rivers, and conserves clean water for people and nature. Since 1973, American Rivers has protected and restored more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and an annual America’s Most Endangered Rivers® campaign. Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 200,000 members, supporters, and volunteers.

Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Find your connections at AmericanRivers.org, Facebook.com/AmericanRivers, and Twitter.com/AmericanRivers.