WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell of Florida introduced a bill today that utilizes green infrastructure to prevent wastewater and stormwater pollution. This legislation, called the Water Infrastructure, Sustainability and Efficiency (WISE) Act, ensures federal money for clean water projects that promote green infrastructure, water or energy efficiency improvements and other environmentally innovative activities. It also advances a long-standing Environment America priority.
"With summer coming, the last thing people want is sewage overflows and runoff pollution contaminating the beaches where they swim,” said Ed Johnson, president of Environment America. “This green infrastructure bill promotes the best solutions to ensure that we prevent this pollution and have clean water and safe beaches."
“In order to save our environment, we need to make bold investments so we can innovate our way to a future where no one lacks clean water,” said Rep. Mucarsel-Powell. “If passed, we could, by law, continue fighting against climate change and prioritizing projects that will reduce our municipalities’ reliance on outdated or crumbling water infrastructure and sewage systems.”
Some 850 billion gallons of untreated wastewater and stormwater pollute America’s waters each year through combined sewer overflows, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Green infrastructure projects can prevent this pollution with rain barrels, rooftop gardens, permeable pavement, open space and other techniques that capture stormwater on-site.
“If we invest in prevention, we save on cleanup,” said Bart Johnsen-Harris, clean water advocate for Environment America. “The WISE Act would protect clean water by helping communities make their sustainable projects a reality.”
The bill would permanently safeguard 20 percent of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund, a multi-billion dollar source of water infrastructure funding, for environmentally friendly projects.
“With calamities like fertilizer runoff, toxic algal outbreaks and leaky septic systems, Floridians are already experiencing what happens when we don't protect clean water,” said Jennifer Rubiello, director of Environment Florida. “Rep. Mucarsel-Powell’s proactive bill will help us build intelligently and prevent these kinds of pollution.”