Obama Administration's Budget Calls for New River Initiative

President Obama and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar launched a new Rivers Initiative, led by the Department of the Interior, to protect and restore rivers across the country.

The President’s 2013 budget prioritizes within the new Rivers Initiative river restoration and recreation projects in all 50 states; the development of a National Blueways System to recognize communities which rediscover, restore, and reconnect with rivers; and a National Rivers Atlas and other online river restoration and recreation tools.

The budget incorporates many of the projects conservation oranizations, such as American Rivers, and river advocates around the country helped generate through the America’s Great Outdoors initiative. American Rivers works to preserve blueways, dam removal, urban river protection and other projects at the center of the new initiative at Interior.

“The president’s Rivers Initiative is a powerful statement about the importance of healthy rivers in the lives of all Americans,” said Jim Bradley, senior director of Government Relations for American Rivers. “We applaud the Administration for investing in rivers, which are vital to our health, economy, and communities.”

Unfortunately, the President’s budget also includes deep cuts to clean water protections. The Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Water State Revolving Fund (CWSRF) and Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) were both substantially cut, reduced by nearly $350 million. 

Despite these cuts, the budget requests a percentage of “Green Reserve” funding – 20 percent for the CWSRF and 10 percent for the DWSRF -- for green infrastructure projects, like green roofs and rain gardens, and for water efficiency, to save water and energy.  The budget does propose additional funding for water infrastructure through a new National Infrastructure Bank, which has yet to be established.

“We are disappointed in the cuts to clean water funding, but we are pleased the administration is maintaining its commitment to green infrastructure,” said Bradley. “We look forward to working with the administration to connect Americans with their rivers and ensure our rivers continue to provide clean, safe and reliable drinking water supplies.”