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Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act

The Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act (S. 3561) was just introduced into the Senate by Tom Udall (N.M.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (R.I.). This bill is nearly identical to the House bill of the same name (H.R. 4202) that was submitted in 2009. The House bill has since picked up 40 cosponsors.

By encouraging advances in America’s understanding and use of green infrastructure techniques, these bills will help to achieve environmental and economic benefits for communities across the country.

Stormwater runoff is a serious threat to the nation’s waterways and public health, costing Americans hundreds of millions of dollars each year in lost tourism revenue, increased drinking water treatment costs and loss of habitat. Fortunately, green infrastructure provides a cost-effective and environmentally sound approach to reducing stormwater and combined sewer overflow pollution. This strategy stops water pollution at its source by using trees, vegetation, and open spaces to capture and infiltrate rain where it falls – letting the environment manage water naturally, inexpensively, and effectively.

Because it decreases hard infrastructure costs while increasing property values and creating jobs, green infrastructure is an economically prudent water management technique. Moreover, it offers wide-ranging environmental and social benefits beyond reductions in polluted runoff: it improves air quality, mitigates the urban heat island effect, and provides better urban aesthetics. Studies have shown that green infrastructure improves health and saves energy used to heat and cool buildings. Green infrastructure techniques also minimize flooding and ensure more resilient water supplies by increasing groundwater recharge.

The Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act promotes the use of these multi-beneficial methods by making green infrastructure a national priority. The bill establishes “Centers of Excellence” for green infrastructure that will provide critical research and information coordination services. It will establish a green infrastructure program within the Environmental Protection Agency's Office of Water to promote the use of green infrastructure and provide technical assistance to states, local governments, and the private sector. Most importantly, the bill will provide communities with the resources they need to implement green infrastructure projects on the ground, improving the lives of their residents.

Participate in the Surfrider's action alert and send your Congressional leaders a letter urging them to co-sponsor the Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act. Just click here.

To learn more about Green Infrastructure visit EPA's website, the Surfrider Foundations Coastal A-Z on Low Impact Development, or the previous blog posting on this bill.