Senate Bill Would Fund R&D for Natural Processes against Stormwater

U.S. Sens. Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) have introduced legislation to help address water quality challenges by encouraging the research, development and promotion of new technologies and designs that use natural processes to combat polluted stormwater runoff.

The Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act would establish up to five regional centers of excellence that would spearhead the research and development of new stormwater management techniques, which use soil and plant life to filter stormwater polluted by sediments and chemicals on the surface before it reaches nearby waterbodies. The legislation would also establish a green infrastructure program within the EPA's Office of Water to coordinate and promote the use of new stormwater techniques. EPA's regional offices would complete similar efforts.

The legislation further authorizes technical assistance and project grants to local wastewater utilities for green infrastructure projects that take advantage of these alternative techniques to stormwater management. The legislation does not alter the Clean Water Act's regulatory requirements but rather seeks to expand the options for communities to achieve clean water standards.

The legislation defines "green infrastructure"' as stormwater management techniques that preserve, restore, enhance, or mimic natural hydrology, such as green roofs, porous pavements and ground cover, or vegetated channels and detention areas that reduce the burden of stormwater on wastewater infrastructure and the environment.

The bill is supported by the National Association of Clean Water Agencies; Natural Resources Defense Council; American Rivers; American Public Works Association; Water Environment Federation; Center for Neighborhood Technology; Clean Water Action; and the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators.

Companion legislation has been introduced in the House by Reps. Donna Edwards (D-Md.), Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.), and Steve Driehaus (D-Ohio).