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

Demand for green reserve money well exceeds supply

February 12th, 2010

<p>Katie Swartz, 419-936-3759<br />Amy Kober, 206-898-3864</p>

Washington, DC – Communities across Ohio 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.

“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 Ohio include a City of Toledo initiative that will utilize bioretention, rain barrels, and pervious pavement to capture and filter pollution from stormwater. The project will be studied to determine the volume of stormwater that is reduced, and the extent to which water quality in local streams and lakes improves.

“The Maywood Project is located in a heavily populated urban area of Toledo,” said Tim Murphy, Commissioner of Environmental Services for the City of Toledo. “Implementing these green infrastructure techniques in this situation as opposed to a new development means communities around the country will benefit from the lessons learned and information gathered.”    

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 $31 million for Ohio.

“This represents another excellent opportunity for Ohio to address failing infrastructure by building it smarter using cost-effective, green approaches,” said Katie Swartz, clean water program associate for American Rivers in Toledo.

American Rivers is spearheading a comprehensive approach to reduce stormwater runoff and protect clean water in the Great Lakes region. From offices in Toledo and Milwaukee, American Rivers works with decision-makers to promote natural stormwater management practices like permeable pavement, rain gardens, and green roofs.

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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