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ALBUQUERQUE (AP) — U.S. Sen. Tom Udall has introduced legislation that aims to reduce pollution caused when storm water runoff carries chemicals and sediment into rivers and streams.
The New Mexico Democrat says storm water runoff is the leading cause of water pollution nationwide.
The Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act of 2013 would encourage the use of innovative and economic approaches to manage and reduce such pollution and restore natural surfaces, such as permeable pavement, natural drainage features, and green roofs.
These newer approaches can be more cost-effective than traditional stormwater infrastructure projects, which use large amounts of concrete and steel infrastructure to collect runoff and rapidly move it downstream. The investments would also create jobs and stimulate the economy.
In New Mexico, improvements to reduce stormwater runoff could better protect communities during major storms, such as the downpours this summer, which caused serious flooding and damage to roads, bridges and levees. During the storms, areas that had made improvements to reduce flooding, including the recent bosque redevelopment projects, were spared significant damage.
“New Mexicans know how precious clean water is, and they know our country is near a crisis point when it comes to how we manage our water,” Udall said.
“During this summer’s floods across New Mexico, recent bosque restoration projects helped manage Rio Grande flows and protected our communities. Our bill provides a cost-effective alternative to reduce the leading cause of water pollution and help communities across the country relieve pressure on aging infrastructure, reduce flooding and create more green spaces, which provide natural filters for pollution. Best of all, it would help create jobs and stimulate the economy at the same time.”
Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD) introduced a companion bill in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The bill has four primary objectives. It would:
• Promote innovative stormwater infrastructure to states, local governments, and the private sector.
• Make investments so that communities can implement their own stormwater projects.
• Create up to five Centers of Excellence throughout the United States to conduct research, develop recommendations, and provide training and technical assistance for implementing management practices for stormwater control and management that are tailored specifically to each region.
• Promote public-private partnerships to create jobs in the design and construction of innovative stormwater control infrastructure.
• The bill is supported by the following organizations: American Forests, American Planning Association, American Rivers, American Society of Landscape Architects, Green For All, National Association of Clean Water Agencies, National Recreation and Park Association, Natural Resources Defense Council, and Water Environment Federation.