Economic Recovery Act Is Good News For Clean Water And Rivers

Bear Run dam removal in Pennsylvania. Image credit:Terra Dawn Photography.

The US economic recovery package is great news for clean water and healthy rivers, and communities across the country will reap the benefits. The plan contains over $6 billion -- an unprecedented amount of money for clean water, drinking water, water efficiency, green infrastructure and river restoration. The funds will transform the way our country manages water – our country’s most vital resource – while creating good jobs, improving public health and safety, and creating more attractive, livable communities.

The final version of the recovery plan includes:


  • $4 billion for clean water under the Clean Water State Revolving Fund programs

  • $2 billion for drinking water under the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund, with $1.2 billion set aside from both the clean water and drinking water programs for green infrastructure and water and energy efficiency projects

  • $830 million for the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, a portion of which will be used for river restoration projects

Clean water is the lifeblood of our communities, yet our nation’s water infrastructure — our drinking water and wastewater systems, dams and levees — is seriously outdated. Fortunately, the economic recovery plan is a big step towards bringing our water infrastructure into the 21st century.

Green infrastructure means planting trees and installing green roofs, rather than enlarging sewers or building a costly new treatment plant (the rainwater captured on a green roof can be used for building cooling systems and toilet-flushing). It means restoring floodplains and wetlands instead of building taller and taller levees (one wetland acre can absorb 1-1.5 million gallons of floodwater). And it means retrofitting buildings and homes with water-efficient plumbing instead of constructing an expensive water supply dam (per gallon, water supply dams can cost up to 8,500 times more than water efficiency investments).

By optimizing traditional infrastructure and maximizing green infrastructure, communities can meet their water needs and protect public health and safety. Green infrastructure also saves money and creates good jobs. For example, an economic analysis conducted by the Alliance for Water Efficiency estimates that a direct investment of $1 billion in water efficiency programs can boost U.S. employment by 15,000 to 22,000 jobs.

And, green solutions bring the added benefits of fish and wildlife habitat, and an overall higher quality of life.

These provisions in the plan truly are a down payment on a better future and will improve the lives of all Americans.

More TreeHugger posts on the economic recovery plan.
Energy Efficiency Leads Obama Economic Recovery Plan
Ecological Stimulus Package: Investing In Natural Capital
Al Gore Tells Senate Committee That We Have Arrived at a Moment of ...

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