September 10, 2019

Udall, Heck Introduce Bipartisan Clean Water Through Green Infrastructure Act

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Udall (N.M.) and U.S. Representative Denny Heck (Wash.) introduced the Clean Water Through Green Infrastructure Act, in both the House and the Senate.

Stormwater runoff is the greatest source of water pollution in the United States. When rainwater flows over parking lots, streets, and rooftops, it carries pollutants into waterways, threatening public health, reducing tourism revenue, increasing water treatment costs, and endangering wildlife.

The Clean Water Through Green Infrastructure Act will address this problem by establishing up to five Centers of Excellence, through a competitive process, to promote green stormwater infrastructure. Located throughout the country, the Centers will conduct research on stormwater control infrastructure, establish industry standards for stormwater management, and develop testing protocols to measure the success of different products and practices.

Stormwater can be stopped at its source through innovative practices known as green stormwater infrastructure (GSI), which includes rain gardens, permeable pavement, green roofs, and other natural solutions. GSI is often more cost-effective than water treatment costs and new storm sewer infrastructure, and provides added benefits like increased green spaces and improved human health and air quality.

“In New Mexico, storm water pollutants are threatening the Rio Grande watershed -- our state’s primary water source for drinking, agriculture and recreation,” Udall said. “The bill we are introducing today is an important step to help our communities protect one of our most precious resources with green infrastructure projects that prevent trash, toxic chemicals and other contamination from polluting our waterways. These infrastructure projects will reduce flood risks, and instead recharge our aquifers – often at lower cost than traditional infrastructure. With federal, bipartisan support, New Mexico and states across the nation will have access to more comprehensive resources to keep our water resources clean and safe, through natural and innovative processes like permeable pavements and natural water detention areas.”

“Gone are the days of easy-fix solutions for point source pollution,” said Heck. “Toxic runoff is flowing out of our cities and streets and into our waterways, parks, and drinking water. Such a complex problem requires a comprehensive approach to test and implement innovative stormwater infrastructure solutions. In Washington state and across the country, local governments, tribes, and educational institutions are already tackling this problem. A partnership with the federal government will help them scale their efforts to meet the challenge head-on.”

In addition to Udall and Heck, U.S. Representative John Katko (N.Y.) is also a co-sponsor of the bill.

The Clean Water Through Green Infrastructure Act is currently endorsed by: Alliance of Nurses for Healthy Environments, American Rivers, American Society of Civil Engineers, American Society of Landscape Architects, Clean Water Action, Defenders of Wildlife, Environment America, Environmental Law & Policy Center, Environmental Working Group, League of Conservation Voters, League of United Latin American Citizens, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National Wildlife Federation, Natural Resources Defense Council, River Network, Sierra Club, Southern Environmental Law Center, Water Environment Federation, and Waterkeeper Alliance.