Senator Udall, Representative Edwards Introduce Bill to Combat Leading Cause of Water Pollution

The Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act will create jobs, boost local economies, help control flooding

U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Donna F. Edwards (D-Md.) have introduced legislation to promote innovative ways to prevent flooding and water pollution created when rain or melted snow (stormwater) picks up toxic chemicals and sediment as it flows over roads, parking lots, roofs and lawns and into rivers and streams. The Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act encourages new outside-the-box strategies to help prevent and manage stormwater pollution. In addition to reducing pollution and flooding, the bill would create jobs and strengthen local infrastructure. The lawmakers introduced the bill as international, state and local water and wastewater professionals visit Washington, D.C., for Water Week 2015 to highlight the importance of clean water and pollution control in our communities.

Promoting innovative stormwater infrastructure — such as permeable pavement, natural drainage features and green roofs — can help manage and reduce pollution from stormwater runoff while restoring natural landscapes. These newer approaches can be more cost-effective than traditional stormwater infrastructure projects, which use large amounts of concrete and steel infrastructure to collect runoff and rapidly move it downstream. Investing in innovative solutions to combat stormwater pollution would also create jobs and stimulate local economies.

“We’re reaching a crisis point when it comes to managing our clean water,”Udall said. “Year after year, heavy rains hit New Mexico communities, causing dangerous floods, damaging roads and dumping toxins into our rivers. It’s time to invest in a 21st-century solution. From green roofs to stronger water efficiency standards, our bill promotes innovative projects that can help protect New Mexico communities during major storms and recharge groundwater year round. These cost-effective alternatives will upgrade aging infrastructure, create local jobs and restore natural green space.”

“A growing threat to water quality throughout the U.S. is polluted stormwater runoff, flooding, and sewer overflow from highly urbanized areas flowing into surface waters without being treated,” Edwards said. “This is especially true for Maryland with the Chesapeake Bay and several of its tributaries, including the Anacostia, Patuxent, Potomac, and Severn Rivers that flow through the Fourth Congressional District. I am proud to introduce this legislation with Sen. Tom Udall to provide an innovative, environmental, and economically cost-effective approach to water management strategies that improve water quality throughout the nation while creating good-paying jobs for the future.”

Udall and Edwards introduced identical versions of the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act in the Senate and the House. The bill would:

– Improve our nation’s ability to manage clean water resources, including drinking water;
– Increase research and development of innovative green infrastructure techniques;
– Create jobs across diverse sectors, such as plumbing, landscaping and engineering;
– Save taxpayer money by reducing the amount of water entering treatment plants, keeping energy costs low and prolonging the life of existing conventional water infrastructure; and
– Provide environmental and economic benefits to communities, including reduced flooding and energy use, as well as increased community greenspace and property values.

The bill has received broad support from water and environmental organizations, including the National Association of Clean Water Agencies, American Rivers, the American Society of Landscape Architects, Natural Resources Defense Council and the Water Environment Federation.