A new report by American Rivers documents how the nation’s demand for green infrastructure—projects that restore nature’s ability to absorb and purify water— is higher than ever.
The new report—“Putting Green to Work: Economic Recovery Investments for Clean and Reliable Water”—examines federal investments through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to improve the nation’s water drinking water and wastewater infrastructure. The economic recovery act infused $6 billion into marquee clean water programs and dedicated twenty percent of that money, or $1.2 billion, to so-called “green” infrastructure—efforts such as restoring wetlands, stabilizing flood plains, retrofitting buildings and homes with more efficient plumbing, planting more trees and building green roofs.
Green infrastructure solutions can help tackle one of the most acute threats to the Great Lakes—sewage overflows. A recent report by the Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition documented how billions of gallons of sewage and storm water contaminate the Lakes every year. The report also recommended a more robust federal investment in green infrastructure to help absorb storm water and prevent overflows—a finding in-line with the new American Rivers report.
“Putting Green to Work” offers some encouraging findings: The huge demand for green projects has inspired several states to invest far more than 20 percent of recovery act funds in green projects. States such as Maryland and New York are highlighted as exemplary.
The report recommends that the nation continue to ramp-up its investment in green infrastructure—which will help restore and protect the Great Lakes and other U.S. waterways.
“Achieving a vision of thriving communities and healthy rivers will require moving green infrastructure from an ‘innovative’ practice to a mainstream practice, in part by continuing to fund these smart investments,” says report co-author Katherine Baer, senior director, Clean Water Program, for American Rivers. “Green infrastructure is simply the cost-effective and reliable way for communities to secure clean water, flood protection, and other vital benefits now and into the future.”