American Rivers Identifies Nearly 200 Projects

Green infrastructure projects are critical to stimulating the economy, and American Rivers and its partners have identified 194 water-related projects in 25 states and the District of Columbia with a total cost of $1.1 billion that are ready to begin within 6 to 9 months. The list provides examples of the types of green infrastructure projects that will not only create jobs and jumpstart the economy, but will also improve clean water and natural flood protection.

“It is time for a new public works program to create American jobs, boost long-term economic growth, and protect our most vital resource: clean water,” said Betsy Otto, vice president of strategic partnerships for American Rivers.

American Rivers applauded President-elect Obama and Congress for their efforts on green economic recovery measures and encouraged funding for projects that will bring the nation’s water infrastructure into the 21st century.

"Our water infrastructure is antiquated and crumbling and can’t cope with our drinking water, wastewater, and flood protection needs, and climate change is making the situation worse” said Otto. “The good news is, investments in green solutions to these water infrastructure problems will create jobs, save money, and protect public health and safety.”

The project examples were compiled by American Rivers, NRDC, the Environmental Law and Policy Center, and The Ferguson Group.

Project highlights include:

Improving stormwater management on city streets in Chicago, Los Angeles, Portland, Philadelphia, Washington, and Milwaukee through the use of permeable pavement, tree-planting, and rain gardens.

Creating a major new riverfront park on the Ohio River in Cincinnati, while also improving flood protection.

Installing a green or “eco” roof on New York City’s PS41 to reduce stormwater runoff and help regulate temperatures inside the school building.

Removing concrete and restoring stormwater retention and public park space in Ocean Springs, Miss., in an area that was abandoned after Hurricane Katrina.

“Many communities are ready to begin construction on green infrastructure projects but lack the financial resources,” said Otto. “Funding green infrastructure projects would provide an immediate stimulus to the economy while ensuring that plentiful clean water will be available in the future to drive economic growth.”

American Rivers estimates that if 600 U.S. cities installed green roofs on just 1 percent of their large roofs, over 190,000 jobs would be created.

An economic analysis conducted by the Alliance for Water Efficiency estimates that total economic output per million dollars of investment in water efficiency programs is between $2.5 and $2.8 million. It estimates that a direct investment of $10 billion in water efficiency programs can boost U.S. employment by 150,000 to 220,000 jobs.

Green infrastructure incorporates natural systems that can help supply clean water, reduce polluted runoff, reduce sewer overflows, minimize flooding, and enhance community health and safety. It means restoring floodplains instead of building taller and taller levees. It means planting trees and installing green roofs, rather than enlarging sewers or building a costly new treatment plant. And it means retrofitting buildings and homes with water-efficient plumbing instead of constructing an expensive water supply dam.

Green infrastructure solutions provide multiple benefits, including lower energy use and greenhouse gas emissions. They also create jobs in many sectors that aren’t outsourced, including plumbing, landscaping, engineering, building, and design. Green solutions support green tech industries, including supply chains and the jobs connected with manufacturing of materials from low-flow toilets to roof membranes.

“We need to invest more in water infrastructure, but we need to invest more wisely, too.” said Otto. “Instead of spending billions to build costly, energy-intensive 19th century approaches, we should invest in 21st century green infrastructure solutions.”

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