Green Infrastructure Projects in New Jersey Would Create Jobs, Stimulate Economy
Ready-to-go projects already identifiedDecember 17th, 2008
Betsy Otto, American Rivers, 202-347-7550
Amy Kober, American Rivers, 206-898-3864 or 206-213-0330 x23
Washington, DC – Green infrastructure projects are critical to stimulating the economy, and American Rivers and its partners have identified four examples of ready-to-go projects in New Jersey worth over $53 million that would not only create jobs and jumpstart the economy, but would also improve clean water and boost natural flood protection. American Rivers applauded President-elect Obama and Congress for their efforts on green economic recovery measures and encouraged funding for projects that will bring New Jersey’s and the nation’s water infrastructure into the 21st century.
“Clean water is our nation’s most vital resource, but our water infrastructure is outdated and crumbling, unable to cope with our drinking water, wastewater, and flood protection needs,” said Betsy Otto, vice president of strategic partnerships for American Rivers. “The good news is, investments in green solutions to these water infrastructure problems will create jobs, save money, and protect public health and safety.”
A wetland restoration project in Oxford, NJ could restore 225 acres of failing agricultural lands and a failing private levee along Furnace Brook to forested and floodplain wetlands. Nearly one mile of levees would be removed, ditching would be backfilled, and the land would be planted again to forested and marsh wetland vegetation. This project would restore natural flood protection and reduce downstream flood damage, improve wildlife habitat and expand an adjacent state wildlife area.
In Trenton, the Assunpink Creek restoration project would remove a culvert and improve the health of this Delaware River tributary. The effort would also include construction of a multiple-use trail for public recreation.
American Rivers, NRDC, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and The Ferguson Group collected examples of 194 water-related projects in 25 states and the District of Columbia with a total cost of $1.1 Billion that are ready to begin within 6 to 9 months.
“These communities are ready to begin construction on green infrastructure projects but lack the financial resources,” said Otto. “Funding these types of projects would provide an immediate stimulus to the economy while ensuring that plentiful clean water will be available in the future to drive economic growth.”
American Rivers estimates that if 600 U.S. cities installed green roofs on just 1% of their large roofs, over 190,000 jobs would be created.
An economic analysis conducted by the Alliance for Water Efficiency estimates that total economic output per million dollars of investment in water efficiency programs is between $2.5 and $2.8 million. It estimates that a direct investment of $10 billion in water efficiency programs can boost U.S. employment by 150,000 to 220,000 jobs.
Green infrastructure incorporates natural systems that can help supply clean water, reduce polluted runoff, stop sewer overflows, minimize flooding and enhance community health and safety. It means restoring floodplains instead of building taller and taller levees. It means planting trees and installing green roofs, rather than enlarging sewers or building a costly new treatment plant. And it means retrofitting buildings and homes with water-efficient plumbing instead of constructing an expensive water supply dam.
Green infrastructure solutions are cheaper and they provide multiple benefits, including lower energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. They also create jobs in many sectors that aren’t outsourced, including plumbing, landscaping, engineering, building, and design. Green solutions support green tech industries, including supply chains and the jobs connected with manufacturing of materials from low-flow toilets to roof membranes.
“We need to invest more in water infrastructure, but we need to invest more wisely, too.” said Otto. “Instead of spending billions to build costly, energy-intensive 19th Century approaches, we should invest in 21st century green infrastructure solutions. We know these work better and cheaper, and the money communities save can be used to hire teachers, police officers, and meet other pressing community needs.”
Our country is fast approaching a crisis point when it comes to clean water. The U.S. water infrastructure system is so outmoded and ancient that it cannot cope with our current drinking water, wastewater or flood protection needs. The American Society of Civil Engineers graded both wastewater and drinking water systems a D-, the lowest ratings of any infrastructure category. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates capital funding needs of at least $500 billion for water and wastewater systems. On top of that, global warming is already causing more floods, droughts and waterborne diseases, further taxing communities’ ability to respond.