Sierra Club Spotlights Projects That Help Keep Drinking Water Clean

On Nov. 17, the Sierra Club released its second annual "Guide to America's Best New Development," which features 10 ground-breaking projects that help keep drinking water clean. Better known for its efforts to combat sprawling construction, the organization is making the point that there is a better way to build and produce healthy and livable communities.

"Everyone deserves clean drinking water," said the Sierra Club's Executive Director Carl Pope. "That's why it is heartening to see developers taking action to protect our water. By implementing simple solutions to curb the huge amount of pollution generated by their projects, these cost-effective developments are helping create truly livable communities. Our hope is that Americans will look at these inventive projects and demand better clean-water practices as their own communities grow and develop."

The Sierra Club applauded a diverse set of projects taken on by developers, communities and local utilities. They involve solutions both big and small, from rain gardens and natural plantings in Seattle to a giant underground cistern at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. By incorporating creative methods for managing polluted stormwater runoff, these projects help keep sewage, toxics and litter out of the water.

Polluted runoff and sewage overflows are the largest sources of water pollution and growing threats to the health of the nation's water, Sierra Club officials stated. In choosing projects to be recognized with this year's top development honors, the organization looked for simple, but highly effective solutions that help keep untreated and poorly treated sewage and toxic urban runoff out of drinking water sources. All of the projects highlighted in the report use simple solutions that can be easily replicated across the country and that have been proven to help keep waterways clean by reducing the volume and impact of stormwater runoff.

"The most important factor in all of these projects is that the designers looked at stormwater as a resource, not a waste product," said Sierra Club development analyst Eric Olson.

Profiles of the winning projects can be viewed at http://www.sierraclub.org/buildingbetter.

This article originally appeared in the 11/01/2006 issue of Environmental Protection.

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