The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Liz Garland, American Rivers, 717-763-0742

American Rivers' 21st Century Water Solutions Highlighted at Congressional Hearing in Philadelphia

Green infrastructure benefits clean water, local economies


Building on recent success securing an unprecedented $6 billion for
clean water and green infrastructure in the federal economic recovery
package, American Rivers testified today at a Congressional Field
Hearing in Philadelphia to demonstrate how 21st century clean water
solutions can benefit communities and local economies.

The hearing, Vibrant Communities, Healthy Waters, and Job Opportunities: Exploring Green Infrastructure and Role of Federal Policy,
convened by Representatives Robert Brady (PA-1), Chaka Fattah (PA-2),
and Allyson Schwartz (PA-13), was organized to examine the role of
federal policy in advancing green infrastructure as a means of
improving water and air quality, enhancing the livability of dense
urban areas, and creating green job opportunities.

Liz Garland, associate director of the Pennsylvania clean water
program for American Rivers, testified before the committee and made
the following statement:

"Green infrastructure is the most cost-effective, reliable, and
flexible way for communities to deal with the impacts of climate change
and provide a wide array of valuable benefits to people and wildlife.
Green infrastructure means planting trees and restoring wetlands to
naturally filter water, rather than building a costly new water
treatment plant. It means choosing water efficiency and using captured
rainwater instead of building a new water supply dam. It means
restoring floodplains to protect communities instead of building taller

"This hearing is an example of Congress' readiness to move
Pennsylvania's and the nation's water management into the 21st century
by focusing on green infrastructure solutions."

"American Rivers was instrumental in securing $6 billion for clean
water and green infrastructure in the economic recovery package, and
now we are making sure this money is put to good use in Pennsylvania
and nationwide. Pennsylvania has roughly $50 million to spend on green
infrastructure projects to create jobs, protect clean water, boost
water supplies, and prepare communities for the impacts of climate

"The smart infrastructure approaches discussed in today's hearing
have far-reaching benefits. They reduce stormwater pollution, recharge
drinking water supplies, and create valuable green space. They also
cost less and create jobs here at home. Covering just one percent of
large buildings in America's cities with green roofs would create over
190,000 jobs and a $1 billion investment in water efficiency would
produce up to 22,000 jobs."

American Rivers made the following recommendations at today's hearing:

1. Integrate
green infrastructure into broader water infrastructure spending and
programs. Mandatory set-asides in federal funding are critical in
advancing these new approaches in the near-term, but future solutions
must fully integrate green and traditional approaches.

2. Support
stand-alone legislative initiatives, such as Representative Schwartz's
Green Communities Act (HR2222), to increase funding and technical
assistance for green infrastructure in communities nationwide.

3. Provide authorization for EPA's WaterSense water efficiency program.

4. Fully
implement Section 438 of the Energy Independence and Security Act that
requires federal facilities to manage stormwater on-site and maintain
the natural flow of water over the land.

5. Hold federal
agencies accountable for facilitating and fostering green
infrastructure in their policies, practices, and spending decisions.

6. Protect
and restore existing natural infrastructure (like forests, wetlands and
floodplains) critical for clean water by passing legislation to affirm
the historic protections of small streams and wetlands afforded by the
federal Clean Water Act.

7. Support research and development for
innovative integrated green infrastructure but do not postpone
investing in these smart strategies today.

Learn more about green infrastructure:

American Rivers is the only national organization standing up for healthy rivers so our communities can thrive. Through national advocacy, innovative solutions and our growing network of strategic partners, we protect and promote our rivers as valuable assets that are vital to our health, safety and quality of life. 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.