Stimulus funding can improve public health, clean water in Oregon

Green infrastructure projects will create good jobs

March 18th, 2009

Betsy Otto, American Rivers, 202-347-7550 x 3033
Amy Kober, American Rivers, 206-213-0330 x23

(Washington, DC) – Oregon is ready to take a big step forward into the 21st century.  The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 has made available $15 million in funding in the form of a set-aside for green infrastructure, and water and energy efficiency projects.  American Rivers conducted a quick survey around the country and was able to highlight 11 ready-to-go green infrastructure projects worth $92 million in Oregon.

“This shows that the projects are out there.  It’s great news for Oregon that this funding has been made available by Congress because they can begin construction on a backlog of needed projects that will create jobs and protect clean water,” said Betsy Otto, vice president of strategic partnerships with American Rivers.  “This funding is a real investment in 21st century water infrastructure, and it will boost health, safety and quality of life in communities across Oregon.”

Some examples of ready-to-go green infrastructure projects in Oregon are:

  • sidewalks with street trees to reduce stormwater runoff,
  • installation of an eco-roof on the Inverness jail in Multnomah County, and
  • improvements to the SW Capitol Highway to make it a multimodal corridor with bike lanes, sidewalks, vehicular travel lanes, improved intersections and stormwater treatment in Portland.

“Green solutions work better, cost less, and provide more flexibility for managing our water resources in the face of global warming,” added Otto, “Nature works best to enhance community safety and security and saves money too.”

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. 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.

The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), often referred to as the stimulus bill, was enacted into law on February 17th, 2009. Designed to create jobs, this bill included a variety of provisions across many programs, including funding for water infrastructure projects. Most of the funding for water infrastructure is being distributed through an existing program known as the State Revolving Fund (SRF) Program that is administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

The SRF includes both Clean Water and Drinking Water programs. EPA regularly distributes federal SRF grants to the states, who then lend the money at below-market level rates to local governments to repair or upgrade wastewater, stormwater and drinking water infrastructure. For the first time, the stimulus bill creates a dedicated source of funding for green infrastructure and water and energy efficiency projects, providing an important new opportunity. Green infrastructure and efficiency approaches are proven solutions that can create jobs while solving wastewater, stormwater and drinking water problems in a cost-effective manner. 

Click here for more information on the Oregon SRF program.


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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.