House Passes Critical Clean Water Bill

Legislation Would Fund Nation’s Water and Sanitation Needs

Washington, DC (March 12, 2009) – A bill that will help close the multi-billion dollar annual gap that exists between wastewater infrastructure needs and current funding was passed today by the U.S. House of Representatives.

“This bill will help make it safer to swim in our nation’s lakes, streams and rivers,” said Nancy Stoner, co-director of the Water Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “Congress has taken a step to protect public health and improve quality of life, and, if properly funded, this bill could create hundreds of thousands of jobs that can’t be shipped overseas. By including green infrastructure solutions in the bill, the House is making it clear that we can no longer afford to waste water – our most precious resource – or threaten our communities and waterways with polluted storm water.”

According to experts at NRDC, the legislation, the Water Quality Investment Act of 2009 (H.R. 1262), requires utilities to notify health authorities of sewer overflows. It also invests $150 million a year to accelerate the cleanup of toxic hot spots in the Great Lakes and increases federal investment in green infrastructure.

Green infrastructure uses vegetated median strips, permeable pavement, and rain-catching roofs and gardens to strategically trap polluted runoff, restore natural surface and groundwater systems, and prevent contaminants from reaching waterways.

The Senate is expected to begin consideration of its version of the bill in the next few weeks.