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

Demand for green reserve money well exceeds supply

February 16th, 2010

Washington, DC – Communities across Washington 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 well exceeded available funds. For example, in Washington, applications for green reserve funding through the clean water state revolving fund totaled around $80 million for only $13.6 in available green reserve funds.

“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 Washington state include a green infrastructure project that will use Low Impact Development (LID) techniques like “storm gardens” to reduce the amount of stormwater flow into the City of Spokane sewer system. The goal is to reduce the amount of polluted stormwater discharge into the Spokane River. Additionally, the pervious sidewalk and plants that were selected for the project will enhance the quality of life in a low-income neighborhood.

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 Spokane, the Broadway SURGE project alone is estimated to create or preserve 50 jobs.

“The Broadway storm garden project is an excellent opportunity for our City to fix failing infrastructure in a way that is cost-effective and preserves dwindling water supplies,” says Spokane Mayor Mary Verner.

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 Washington.

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.

Learn more at www.americanrivers.org/greenfunding


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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 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.