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Founders of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus Introduce Bill to Help Stop the Spread of Toxic Stormwater Runoff

Feb 29, 2016
Press Release

Congressional Puget Sound Recovery Caucus

TACOMA, WA – February 29, 2016 – Today, U.S. Representatives Derek Kilmer (WA-06) and Denny Heck (WA-10) introduced a bill to help communities stop the spread of toxic stormwater runoff into key waterways. The legislation would create financing incentives to help state, Tribal, and local governments invest in Green Stormwater Infrastructure (GSI).

GSI uses natural and engineered systems to promote the uptake and filtration of stormwater at its source to protect habitats and reduce flood risks. Currently, when stormwater runoff moves through the drainage systems of larger municipalities it collects a wide range of toxic substances – from motor oil to septic waste – and carries it straight into the local watershed. The Seattle Times recently reported that GSI can play a critical role in removing these pollutants, which a joint National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Washington State University study found can kill coho salmon within a matter of hours.     

“Stormwater runoff may be hard to spot but it’s taking a toll on Puget Sound,” said Kilmer “When heavy rains hit, the pollution that washes into our waterways hurt the salmon, oysters, and the overall health of our Sound. It’s a problem that communities across the country are wrestling with as well. Our legislation supports the groundbreaking work being done in places like Tacoma to capture more of these pollutants and clean up our waters.”

“Stormwater runoff is the top contributor to pollution in Puget Sound, but our nation’s largest estuary isn’t the only place impacted by stormwater,” said Heck. “Across the country, in every community, rain mixes with chemicals, oils, and other harmful pollutants to flood into our waterways. A stronger federal investment in the prevention of runoff allows for the implementation of cutting-edge solutions and puts our communities on a course towards healthy waters for everyone.”

The bill would allow communities looking to utilize GSI to access dedicated funding within the Environmental Protection Agency that supports local water quality projects. It would also give priority to projects that include GSI for competitive Federal Highway funding. 

Congressmen Kilmer and Heck co-founded the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus in 2013 as part of their ongoing commitment to preserving Puget Sound. The three priorities of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus are: preventing pollution from urban storm water runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds.