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

Demand for green reserve money well exceeds supply

February 12th, 2010

<p>Katherine Baer, 410-292-4619<br />Amy Kober, 206-898-3864</p>

Washington, DC – Communities across Maryland 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 $1.2 billion in 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. In Maryland, there were $150 million in applications for the $24 million in clean water green reserve funds awarded.

“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.”

In Maryland, green reserve money will be used to install green roofs and pervious pavement, plant trees, and restore wetlands, and install water efficient fixtures, all designed to limit stormwater pollution and flooding and create more climate resilient communities.

Projects in Maryland include over one million dollars to create a ‘green’ street in Edmonston that will create or preserve 50 jobs. Thirty maple, elm, sycamore and oak trees will line the street, and energy-efficient streetlights will be powered by wind. Permeable concrete and moisture-loving plants will absorb and filter 90 percent of the polluted stormwater that typically flows into the Anacostia River. A bike path will also be added to encourage people to get out of their cars.

Baltimore received over $2 million to retrofit wasteful and outdated plumbing fixtures with new water efficient devices. This will save the City water, energy and money.

The green reserve also funded a number of living shoreline projects to restore wetlands – a key part of Maryland’s climate adaptation strategy to protect eroding shorelines from sea level rise and flooding.

While jobs data is not yet available for the green reserve program, 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.

Edmonston Mayor Ortiz said, “there is a transition taking place here. With this project, the civil engineers now can design a bioretention bed, these laborers now can set porous pavement, these electricians can install LED lighting. These planners and tradesmen and women are the bedrock of our emerging green economy.”

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 $13 million for Maryland.

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; planting trees and installing green roofs, rather than enlarging sewers or building a costly new treatment plant; and retrofitting buildings and homes with water-efficient plumbing instead of constructing an expensive water supply dam.

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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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