Bill to prioritize federal government’s investment in stormwater infrastructure passes U.S. House
Washington, D.C. – Today the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 3906, the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act, to establish a stormwater infrastructure funding task force to study and provide recommendations on how to better address the impact of stormwater on waterways and communities throughout the country including Puget Sound, the nation’s largest estuary.
“Stormwater is the single largest source of water pollution in America, yet very little is being done at the federal level to confront the growing problem,” Congressman Denny Heck (WA-10) said. “State and local budgets are stretched too thin and they deserve a federal partner to contribute to their efforts. In Washington state, we estimate we will need nearly 19 billion dollars of investment in stormwater infrastructure between now and 2036. This bill is an important first step to help experts and stakeholders find the best ways to fund stormwater infrastructure.”
The task force, managed by the Environmental Protection Agency, would include representatives of federal, state, and local governments, as well as individuals from private and nonprofit groups. The task force will be required to submit a report to Congress of their recommendations no later than 18 months after the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act is enacted.
Stormwater runoff is the greatest source of water pollution in the Puget Sound and in the United States. Rainwater flowing over streets, parking lots, and rooftops picks up pollutants that flow into nearby waterways, endangering public health, costing Americans millions of dollars in lost tourism revenue, increasing drinking water treatment costs, causing urban flooding, and degrading habitat for fish and wildlife. This problem is only growing as cities and metropolitan areas expand.
In 2017, Heck and Congressman John Katko of New York introduced legislation to increase federal investments in research and implementation of green stormwater infrastructure. The legislation would provide money for stormwater experts to develop rain gardens, permeable pavement, green roofs, and other innovative, practical materials. These innovations offer a better return on investment than more water treatment or sewer infrastructure, would offer long-term benefits, and would create jobs for people building these materials in five Centers of Excellence established throughout the United States.
Heck is a co-chair of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, which is devoted to promoting ways to prevent pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.