Paving Our Way to Water Shortages: How Sprawl Aggravates the Effects of Drought

Americans from coast to coast have been suffering through one of the worst droughts in decades. Many blame erratic weather conditions for water shortages, while others point to population growth. But that’s not the whole story. Another major contributor to our water problems is the way we develop land. As we pave over more and more wetlands and forests, this new report shows that we are depleting our water supplies. It’s not only the arid West that is facing critical shortages. The rapidly suburbanizing Southeast, blessed with a seemingly inexhaustible water supply, is now in serious trouble, as are many other formerly water-rich regions of the country.

Discussing green infrastructure jobs and innovative water policies in Milwaukee, WI

Water.

What’s the first thing you think of when you read that word? If you answered, “jobs,” you’re probably here at the Urban Water Sustainability Leadership Conference here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where Phaedra Ellis-Lamkins, CEO of Green for All, just released Water Works: Rebuilding infrastructure, creating jobs, greening the environment. “No group has the potential to hire more people,” Ms. Ellis-Lamkins told the audience of utility managers, engineers, planners and advocates. Energy efficiency may be the focus of green jobs in Washington, D.C., but green energy “has nothing on job numbers” compared to green water infrastructure. According to the new report, adequate investment in green water infrastructure over the next five years could generate $265.6 billion in economic activity and create close to 1.9 million jobs.

Smart growth news – June 10, 2011

‘Smart growth,’ water savings are linked
El Paso Times (Texas), June 6, 2011
Higher-density “smart growth” neighborhoods located in the right places could delay by decades an expensive plan to pump water to El Paso from other parts of Texas, the city’s top water official said Wednesday. “It’s not a matter of water supply; it’s a matter of infrastructure,” Ed Archuleta, El Paso Water Utilities president and chief executive officer, told members of the Public Service Board at their Wednesday meeting.

Chelmsford hosting Smart Growth seminar
Wicked Local Chelmsford (Mass.), June 9, 2011
It’s easy to be confused by the economic terms bandied about, particularly “growth” and “development” – but wonder no more. These words and others will be explained at an event starting Thursday, June 16 at the Chelmsford Senior Center. The economic development consultant Smart Growth America will hold a presentation on sustainable growth practices, especially as suggested in the Chelmsford Master Plan, from 7 to 9 p.m. A full-day workshop will take place the following Friday.

Trumka speaks to Chamber board directors
The Hill, June 8, 2011
On Wednesday morning, Trumka told a closed meeting of the Chamber’s board that the country needs to rebuild its crumbling infrastructure. The push for more spending on roads, bridges and highways has become a common cause this year for the labor federation and the business group. Trumka and Tom Donohue, the Chamber’s president and CEO, have made several joint appearances together, including testifying together before Congress.

Community uniting to reverse sprawl trend in Winston-Salem
Yes! Weekly (NC), June 8, 2011
On June 2, around 75 people attended Smart Growth vs. Urban Sprawl, an event at Temple Emanuel designed to highlight both the negative aspects of sprawl and a number of alternatives through video, guest speakers and song. Joines and Bennett were two of the guest speakers, along with Rabbi Mark Strauss-Cohn of the temple, Russ Dubois of the Creative Corridors Coalition and Judy Hunt, one of the city’s principal planners.

Philadelphia launches stormwater protection project with Green City, Clean Waters

Last week the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and the Philadelphia Water Department signed an agreement to officially begin using green stormwater infrastructure to reduce Combined Sewer Overflows to its waterways. Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, speaking at a conference last week, presented the new plan:

The Philadelphia Water Department (PWD) submitted plans for the project to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) in September, 2009, after vetting the plan with Philadelphia residents. Green City, Clean Waters lays the groundwork for the PWD to build primarily green infrastructure – such as stormwater tree trenches, vegetated bumpouts, porous asphalt, rain gardens, sidewalk planters – over the next 25 years. These projects will transform non-porous surfaces that repel rain into surfaces that allow water to soak through, reducing the amount of environmentally damaging stormwater runoff.

Webinar: Sustainability and Drinking Water (Dec. 8)

On December 8 from 1:00pm-2:30pm EST, the American Water Works Association (AWWA) is hosting a webinar on “Sustainability and Drinking Water: Fundamentals, Applications, and Resources.” From the AWWA announcement: In the past few years, legislative bodies, regulatory agencies, and the general public have become more aware of, and concerned about, the effects of business decisions … Continued

EPA tweaks official water policy to invest in existing communities, save taxpayer money

Supported by encouragement and recommendations from Smart Growth America, The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency issued a new policy in late March to guide how billions in annual federal water funds should be used. The new guidance ensures that water facilities that communities depend on every day aren’t neglected in favor of running new systems out to undeveloped areas, saving taxpayer money in the process.

Want clean water? Support green infrastructure

It’s one of our most basic needs, and one we take most for granted — clean, fresh water. But polluted stormwater runoff, overtaxed sewer systems, increasingly urbanized areas and shrinking forests and grasslands are threatening Americans’ water quality. Tell your Representative to support green infrastructure now!

Solving wastewater issues through green innovation in Syracuse

Across the country, older cities are struggling with outdated water-sewer systems that collect sanitary sewage and stormwater runoff in a single pipe system. When a big storm occurs, the system gets overloaded: sewage combines with stormwater and runs into lakes and streams, causing serious water pollution and health issues. Cities are beginning to turn instead to “green” infrastructure as a viable alternative to addressing combined sewer overflow. Green infrastructure uses plants and porous pavement among other tools as natural ways to filter water, increase infiltration, and reduce stormwater runoff into pipes.

Hope for the Chesapeake Bay

A fishing boat on the Chesapeake Bay. Photo from WikiCommons. The Chesapeake Bay is the country’s biggest estuary — and one of its biggest failures. Despite over 20 years of clean-up efforts, we have barely made a dent in the extreme levels of pollution from which the Bay suffers. In today’s Baltimore Sun, an op-ed … Continued

October Washington update: Federal policy news

This is the latest edition of the Washington Update from Smart Growth America. The Washington Update is a typically policy-heavy newsletter covering federal policy developments here in Washington. If you want to know more about the details of policy and would like to receive this regularly via email, you can sign up for it (and … Continued