One year later, Georgia’s clean water supply benefits from stimulus spending

Demand for green reserve money well exceeds supply

February 12th, 2010

<p>Amy Kober, 206-213-0330</p>

Washington, DC – Communities across Georgia are reaping the benefits of federal economic stimulus funds, one year after President Obama signed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act into law. American Rivers helped secure the $6 billion for clean water and drinking water, including specific funding for green infrastructure and water efficiency. American Rivers has done an initial analysis of the impacts of this “green reserve” spending.

In a survey of 16 states, American Rivers found that demand for green reserve projects from the clean water state revolving fund exceeded availability by an average of at least 1.5 times and demand for the drinking water state revolving fund exceeded availability by an average of at least 1.2 times.

“Green infrastructure and water efficiency are proving to be smart investments,” said Katherine Baer, senior director for clean water at American Rivers. “They are cost effective solutions to addressing water pollution and water shortages, which will only increase with climate change. Communities are eager to improve their water infrastructure and American Rivers is committed to helping them find 21st century green solutions.”

Projects in Georgia include a $300,000 rebate program for homeowners in Douglasville to replace older toilets with newer, efficient models. Roughly 1500 homeowners are expected to benefit from the program.

Pete Frost, the Executive Director of the Douglasville-Douglas County Water Sewer Authority said, “Not only does the program save our customers money, but it saves us money in the long run because we won’t have to expand facilities. There are also the added environmental benefits from eliminating the need to build and expand reservoirs and saving the energy no longer needed to pipe, treat and pump the water.”

“Communities across Georgia are facing dwindling water supplies. Water efficiency solutions give communities the security they need in a reliable, timely, and cost-effective way,” said Jenny Hoffner, water supply program director for American Rivers in Atlanta. “

While jobs data is not yet available, these projects can create good jobs. American Rivers estimates that covering even 1% of large buildings in America’s medium- to large-sized cities with green roofs will create over 190,000 jobs, and the Alliance for Water Efficiency found that a $10 billion investment in water efficiency projects would create 150,000-222,000 jobs and save 6.5-10 trillion gallons of water. In Maryland, a single green street to reduce flooding and pollution is estimated to create or preserve 50 jobs.

American Rivers will continue its analysis of the spending to better evaluate the program to ensure best results. This green funding set aside has been continued for FY10, and there is now almost $700 million available nationwide for projects including green roofs, green streets, and water efficiency including approximately $14 million for Georgia.

“This represents another excellent opportunity for Georgia to address failing infrastructure and dwindling water supplies by investing in cost-effective water efficiency solutions,” said Hoffner.

Water efficiency provides long term water security by making use of the water we already have to sustain our communities and ecosystems. Examples include replacing wasteful outdated infrastructure in our homes, businesses, and communities with more efficient toilets, pipes, cooling systems instead of constructing an expensive water supply dam. Green infrastructure incorporates natural systems that can help supply clean water, reduce polluted runoff, reduce sewer overflows, minimize flooding and enhance community health and safety. Examples include restoring floodplains instead of building taller levees and planting trees and installing green roofs, rather than enlarging sewers or building a costly new treatment plant.

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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 the 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.

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