Empowering Communities, Advocating Solutions



For immediate release:
Thursday, April 12, 2012
For more information contact:
Brian Smith, CCE, 716-831-3206, bsmith@citizenscampaign.org
Jeff Odefey, American Rivers, 914.584.8972
Terry Poltrack, American Society of Landscape Architects, 202.216.7852
Mark Buckley, ECONorthwest, 541.344.4955
Lori Harrison, Water Environment Federation, 703.216.8565


New report demonstrates how green infrastructure can save communities money

Buffalo, NY – Communities looking for the most cost-effective options for managing polluted runoff and protecting clean water should choose green infrastructure solutions, according to a national report released in New York today by Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE). The report was prepared by American Rivers, the Water Environment Federation (WEF), the American Society of Landscape Architects (ASLA), and ECONorthwest. Read the report at www.americanrivers.org/goinggreen 

The report, Banking on Green: How Green Infrastructure Saves Municipalities Money and Provides Economic Benefits Community-wide, demonstrates that green infrastructure practices can offer more cost-effective solutions relative to traditional infrastructure approaches. The report also details additional potential benefits of green infrastructure such as lower energy expenses, reduced flood damage and improved public health.

Green infrastructure refers to practices like green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales, and pervious pavement that capture and treat rainwater and runoff. These measures reduce the amount of polluted runoff -- the water that mixes with oil, pesticides, and other pollutants as it rushes over streets, parking lots, and yards into local streams. Green infrastructure captures rain water that would otherwise overwhelm combined sewer systems and lead to sewage overflows.

Communities throughout New York State are adversely impacted by aging and failing wastewater infrastructure. Polluted stormwater runoff and sewage overflows are leading causes of beach closures and impair water quality throughout New York. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that $36.2 billion is needed to fund wastewater infrastructure projects over the next 20 years. The report’s findings demonstrate that New York communities can manage stormwater and reduce sewage overflows cost effectively with green infrastructure.

Throughout New York State, there are significant problems with polluted runoff, and significant potential to apply green infrastructure solutions:
• The Buffalo Sewer Authority is expected to finish its long term plan for addressing combined sewer overflows by the end of this month. It is estimated that four billion gallons of raw or partially treated sewage are discharged into area waterways every year.
• In Onondaga County, a county plan to keep 250 million gallons of rainwater out of the sewage drains by 2018 with green infrastructure has earned recognition by the EPA as a top 10 green community.
• The Capital Region experiences approximately 90 combined sewer overflows that can discharge a billion gallons of sewage into local waterways annually.
• In New York Harbor alone, there are 460 CSO’s that dump 27 billion gallons of polluted runoff and raw sewage annually, which travels up the Hudson River.

“This report demonstrates that cash-strapped communities can address their sewage overflow problems in a cost effective manner by using green infrastructure,” said Brian Smith, Program and Communications Director, Citizens Campaign for the Environment. “Green infrastructure is a win-win for local economies and our environment.”

The report features case studies from cities saving money and enjoying the other benefits of green infrastructure. For example, New York City’s plan to reduce combined sewage overflows will save an estimated $1.5 billion over 20 years by incorporating green infrastructure rather than relying solely on traditional gray infrastructure like massive pipes. The report’s top findings are as follows:
1) Not only can the green infrastructure option cost less, but these practices can further reduce costs of treating large amounts of polluted runoff.
2) Green infrastructure can help municipalities reduce energy expenses.
3) Green infrastructure can reduce flooding and related flood damage.
4) Green infrastructure improves public health -- it reduces bacteria and pollution in rivers and streams, preventing gastrointestinal illnesses in swimmers and boaters.

The report is available for download at www.americanrivers.org/goinggreen
Statements from Organizations that Authored Report:

“Polluted runoff is a pervasive threat to clean rivers and streams nationwide,” said Chris Williams, Senior Vice President for Conservation at American Rivers. “Communities across the country are protecting their water resources with green infrastructure. It effectively reduces pollution, saves money, and delivers other benefits like flood damage prevention and improved public health.”

“WEF was pleased to be part of this important project,” said Jeff Eger, Executive Director of WEF. “We strongly support innovative green infrastructure solutions, which can be economically effective ways to protect and sustain our valuable water resources. Case studies shared in this report should be helpful to communities around the country and are from areas where green infrastructure is already making a difference.”

“For many decades, landscape architects have been helping communities large and small manage their stormwater with innovative green infrastructure solutions such as green roofs, rain gardens, bioswales, and pervious pavements,” said Nancy Somerville, Executive Vice President of the American Society of Landscape Architects. “The case studies and the cost analysis in this white paper clearly demonstrate that green infrastructure techniques are proven and cost effective at managing stormwater, preventing flooding, improving water quality, and promoting public health. Landscape architects will continue to implement these projects in more and more neighborhoods across the country.”

"This report addresses the real economic tradeoffs facing local utilities and developers as they consider green vs. conventional infrastructure," said Mark Buckley, Managing Director of ECONorthwest.


Citizens Campaign for the Environment (CCE) empowers communities and advocates solutions for our shared environment and public health and is supported by over 80,000 members throughout New York State and Connecticut. www.citizenscampaign.org

About American Rivers
American Rivers is the leading organization working to protect and restore the nation’s rivers and streams. Rivers connect us to each other, nature, and future generations. Since 1973, American Rivers has fought to preserve these connections, helping protect and restore more than 150,000 miles of rivers through advocacy efforts, on-the-ground projects, and the annual release of America’s Most Endangered Rivers®.

Headquartered in Washington, DC, American Rivers has offices across the country and more than 100,000 supporters, members, and volunteers nationwide. Visit www.americanrivers.org, www.facebook.com/americanrivers and www.twitter.com/americanrivers.

About ASLA
Founded in 1899, ASLA is the national professional association for landscape architects, representing 16,000 members in 48 professional chapters and 68 student chapters. The Society's mission is to lead, to educate, and to participate in the careful stewardship, wise planning, and artful design of our cultural and natural environments. Learn more about landscape architecture at www.asla.org.

About ECONorthwest
ECONorthwest specializes in economics, planning, and finance. Founded in 1974, we’re one of the oldest independent economic consulting firms in the Pacific Northwest. ECONorthwest has extensive experience applying rigorous analytical methods to examine the benefits, costs, and other economic effects of environmental and natural resource topics for a diverse array of public and private clients throughout the United States and across the globe.

About WEF
Founded in 1928, the Water Environment Federation (WEF) is a not-for-profit technical and educational organization of 36,000 individual members and 75 affiliated Member Associations representing water quality professionals around the world. WEF members, Member Associations and staff proudly work to achieve our mission to provide bold leadership, champion innovation, connect water professionals, and leverage knowledge to support clean and safe water worldwide. To learn more, visit www.wef.org.

updated by bsmith  4/12/12