For Immediate Release
Economic Stimulus Bill Should Include Critical Clean Water Investments
American Rivers calls on Congress to boost funding for green solutions
WASHINGTON - Investments in the nation's clean water infrastructure should be a
key part of any economic stimulus bill, American Rivers said today in
testimony to the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
American Rivers called on Congress to appropriate at least 16 percent
of clean water and drinking water infrastructure funding in the form of
grants for green strategies in any stimulus bill.
"It's time for a brand new vision for water," said Rebecca Wodder,
president of American Rivers. "Nature works best. Whether it's a
natural wetland filtering pollution, or a floodplain absorbing
floodwaters, when we let nature work, communities save money and are
better prepared to weather droughts and floods."
Green approaches to clean drinking water, wastewater management, and
flood protection are proven, effective, and are cheaper than
traditional approaches like dams, levees and underground stormwater
tunnels. Unlike their concrete cousins, green approaches provide many
benefits that go well beyond their primary purposes and save money,
protect environmental quality, and enhance quality of life.
Green strategies create good jobs in many sectors, including
plumbing, landscaping, engineering, building, and design. Green
solutions also support supply chains and the jobs connected with
manufacturing of materials including roof membranes, rain barrels, and
permeable pavement. New York City's broad sustainability plan, PlaNYC,
includes investments in green infrastructure to reduce stormwater and
sewage and protect drinking water supply. The City estimates that full
implementation of PlaNYC will create 4,449 water infrastructure jobs of
all types per year.
Green strategies for meeting water needs are smarter environmentally
and fiscally, and are already being applied by many forward-looking
cities, including New York, Chicago, Portland, Seattle, San Francisco,
Minneapolis-St. Paul, Milwaukee, Kansas City, Toledo, Cincinnati,
Philadelphia, and many others.
American Rivers offered three key goals that should govern future federal water investments:
1) Nature works best: Rivers and streams, wetlands,
floodplains, and forests should be viewed as essential and effective
components of our water infrastructure. New York City's $600 million
investment in Catskills land protection and restoration did the job of
$6 billion in capital costs that would have been needed to construct a
water filtration plant as well as $200-300 million in annual operation
and maintenance costs
2) Don't waste money:
Spending money wisely means investing in multi-purpose solutions that
lower costs and provide more benefits. Recently, the City of
Indianapolis announced that by using wetlands, trees, and downspout
disconnection to reduce stormwater flows into their combined sewer
system, the City will be able to reduce the diameter of the planned new
sewer pipe from 33' to 26', saving over $300 million.
3) Enhance community safety and security:
Climate change and other impacts threaten our clean water supply, and
increase risks from floods and droughts. Traditional infrastructure
won't be enough to handle these new stresses. Green infrastructure is
more effective and flexible, and will allow communities to be better
"We urge the Committee, and Congress as a whole, to direct more
funding to green solutions that will work best and cheapest in a world
dominated by climate change and new economic challenges," said Wodder.
Read our testimony at www.AmericanRivers.org/EconomicStimulusTestimony
Across the country, water infrastructure is outmoded and crumbling,
and cannot cope with our drinking water, wastewater or flood prevention
needs. Water and wastewater systems now receive the lowest grade, a D-,
of all infrastructure rated by the American Society of Civil Engineers.
At the same time, we continue to lose crucial elements of our natural
systems streams, wetlands, forests, and floodplains that filter clean
water and provide flood protection.
Climate change is already making the problem worse, and scientists
predict more frequent and severe droughts and floods as the planet
"We can't afford to waste money," said Wodder. "We need to spend
more on our water infrastructure, but we also need to spend more
wisely. We will make a terrible mistake if we simply rebuild 19th and
20th century water systems that are costly and inflexible. Instead, we
need a 21st century approach that integrates green solutions and helps
ensure community safety and security."
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American Rivers is the leading national organization standing up for healthy rivers so communities can thrive. American Rivers protects and restores America's rivers for the benefit of people, wildlife and nature. Founded in 1973, American Rivers has more than 65,000 members and supporters nationwide, with offices in Washington, DC and the Mid-Atlantic, Northeast, Midwest, Southeast, California and Northwest regions. Visit www.AmericanRivers.org