Rusty Storm Drain, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from GrungeTextures’ photostream

On October 27th, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released a memorandum entitled “Achieving Water Quality Through Integrated Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater Plans.” In it, they addressed the need for states and municipalities to best achieve compliance with the Clean Water Act (CWA) through integrated planning. They acknowledged that meeting the objective of the CWA to keep raw sewage and pollutants carried by stormwater out of our drinking water will be a costly undertaking. But, they offered hope to cash-strapped cities in the form of green infrastructure:

As you know, given the multiple benefits associated with green infrastructure, EPA strongly encourages the use of green infrastructure and related innovative technologies, approaches, and practices to manage stormwater as a resource, reduce sewer overflows, enhance environmental quality, and achieve other economic and community benefits. Many cities and communities in the United States are now employing green infrastructure practices and know the value of such projects to not only protect water resources, but also to bring opportunities for greenways and multiuse recreational areas, improving property values, saving energy and creating green jobs.

According to American City & County, the new guidelines were “hailed by the Washington-based U.S. Conference of Mayors (USCM) as a step forward in the partnership between federal, state and local governments in addressing the problem.”

We’ve blogged many times on these pages about the need to take a green approach to Pittsburgh’s own stormwater runoff issues. And, we are far from the only ones here advocating such an approach. Action United is just one of the groups calling for a better way:

As a community, we need to have a say in how this problem is corrected. ALCOSAN is proposing one path, which relies on large concrete tunnels under our rivers to store and move water from one place to another. We can follow that path. Or, we can find solutions that use green technologies like roof gardens, trees, permeable pavement and rain gardens to capture storm water where it falls. These solutions are greener and better for our communities. Plus, they have the added benefits of creating permanent jobs and beautifying neighborhoods; making them places where people want to visit, live and shop.

By ALCOSAN’s own estimates, their proposed price tag to solve the problem is over $2 BILLION. You can make your voice heard in how we approach this problem at a town hall meeting on November 9th:

ALCOSAN (Allegheny County Sanitary Authority) Town Hall Meeting
I.B.E.W.#5 Circuit Center & Ballroom, 5 Hot Metal St., Pittsburgh, PA 15203
WHEN: 11/9/11, 5:30PM – 7:30PM
COST: “FREE and open to the public, and refreshments or light lunch will be provided.”

You can let the Clean Rivers Campaign know you’re attending by RSVPing on Facebook here.