News Feature | May 25, 2017

Congress Considers Green Infrastructure Bill

Sara Jerome

By Sara Jerome,

Increasing numbers of municipalities are turning to green infrastructure to improve water quality and manage stormwater, and Congress is considering legislation designed to support this trend.

“The Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, introduced in both the House and Senate, would require the U.S. EPA to conduct outreach and training on green infrastructure through its regional offices. It also would establish a new office in the EPA to assist cities and other local governments with technical issues in complying with the Clean Water Act,” according to the Washington Examiner.

Sen. Rob Portman, R-OH, said the legislation promotes “innovative” ways to upgrade water infrastructure.

“Local communities are working to upgrade our aging water infrastructure systems, but too often struggle with the costs of inflexible government mandates, and families are forced to pay higher utility bills as a result,” he said in a statement.

Lynchburg, VA, is one city exploring the benefits of green infrastructure to promote water quality.

One project “will improve a stormwater pond that was constructed in the early 2000s as part of the city’s combined sewer overflow program, which aims to reduce sewage runoff into the James River. The newly constructed wetland will be more efficient at removing pollutants,” the report said.

And “what currently resembles a construction wasteland [in Lynchburg] is targeted for transformation into an aquatic wetland, a project designed to help the city improve water quality and meet its stormwater management requirements,” The News & Advance reported.

Lynchburg's tributaries ultimately drain into the Chesapeake Bay watershed, according to the report.

“Lynchburg operates under a federal storm sewer system permit that requires the city to reduce sediments and other pollutants and nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus that may discharge into the James River and ultimately the bay,” the report said.

The price tag on the pond retrofit and stream restoration project, among other stormwater efforts, is $3.4 million.

For similar stories visit Water Online’s Stormwater Management Solutions Center.