Next week, the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will hold a joint conference to examine the growing role of green infrastructure in managing urban stormwater runoff. The invitation-only event will draw key stakeholders from the utility, engineering, educational, environmental, and government communities to examine ways to more widely implement green infrastructure practices.
NACWA has been participating along with several other organizations over recent weeks as part of a planning team to assist CEQ and EPA as they developed the conference agenda. NACWA is grateful for the opportunity to work with CEQ and EPA—along with other members of the planning team—to help design this important event. The participation and input of municipal clean water utility experts actually implementing green infrastructure practices on the ground will be crucial to the conference’s success, and NACWA is pleased that a wide cross-section of the Association’s utility members have been invited to take part.
As more cities and towns across the United States pursue innovative and creative solutions to manage stormwater, there is a growing recognition that green infrastructure can provide valuable management options combining cost-effectiveness with environmental, economic, recreational, and public-health benefits. At the same time, many communities continue to face challenges to effective green infrastructure implementation, including regulatory and economic barriers.
Among the goals of the conference will be to better identify both the opportunities and challenges facing green infrastructure. Invited stakeholders and experts at the conference will focus on a number of issues, such as:
- defining the range of benefits of green infrastructure practices;
- identifying barriers to these practices;
- finding opportunities for funding, financing and valuing green infrastructure; and
- developing practical steps that government at all levels, communities, and others can take to promote greater implementation of green infrastructure to manage urban stormwater.
The conference not only will feature presentations from experts on current, effective green infrastructure practices, but will also include small-group discussions on how to best expand green infrastructure implementation. The CEQ and EPA will be sharing the outcomes and recommendations from the conference later this year.
Many communities around the nation are recognizing that green infrastructure can play an important role in conjunction with traditional approaches to manage stormwater and urban wet weather runoff in more effective and efficient ways. But there are still a number of barriers, especially on the regulatory side, that can inhibit the implementation of green infrastructure and low impact development. NACWA is hopeful the upcoming conference will provide an opportunity to share many of the municipal green infrastructure success stories, while also highlighting how the federal government can do more from both a financial and regulatory perspective to encourage appropriate green infrastructure use. Because at the end of the day, we want to ensure that it’s easy to be green!