Authors: Shamar Bibbins On Thursday, December 15th, Green For All hosted an event in Edmonston, Maryland, highlighting how investments in water infrastructure creates jobs and protects the environment. The press conference featured Congresswoman Donna Edwards, EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner, Gary Belan from American Rivers and Mayor Robert Kearns from the Town of Edmonston, Maryland. The occasion for the event was the one-year anniversary of Edmonston's innovative "Green Street."
The small town of Edmonston, which is just outside our nation's capitol and sits along the Anacostia River, had faced repeated floods due to stormwater runoff. Year after year floods had caused a heavy economic burden on the town, and environmental damage to the river. For a small town of 1,500, this was unsustainable. Leveraging funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, the town made a commitment to building a more sustainable community. At a cost of $1.4 million, Edmonston's Green Street brought good jobs (70 in total), sustainable flood control, low-cost LED streetlights, and quality of life improvements for walkers, bikers and runners. A county-initiated pumping station was also placed in town to help mitigate the flooding.
Edmonston's investment in upgrading its main street with a green, smart system has become a national "model for green infrastructure investment," according to the Washington Post.
The most critical part of the project is its storm water bio retention and filtration system. The system diverts stormwater or rain runoff away from storm drains and the sewer system to specially landscaped areas along the street, which filter the water naturally through the ground. These bio-retention cells look like regular roadside green space, holding trees and plants, but they also serve a very important function in the ecosystem. The street uses permeable pavement, which captures the first 1.33 inches of rainfall during storms. This means approximately 90% of all rain showers in a typical year are completely filtered. The bio retention and filtration system treat 62% of the street, and the permeable pavement of the bike lanes treat an additional 28%. These innovations help keep the Anacostia (as well as the Potomac and Chesapeake Bay) cleaner.
The attendees at Thursday's event - who were a mix of local elected officials, green business owners, green consultants, engineers, local water advocacy organizations, and allies from labor - agreed that by building similar systems across the county, we can put people to work and help our economy, not to mention clean up our waterways. In a recent Green For All report, Water Works, we highlight the job creation potential each state has by investing in our nation's water infrastructure. At the press conference, Congresswoman Edwards noted that the state of Maryland alone could create 36,000 - 56,000 jobs. Rep. Edwards also used the event to highlight her "Green Infrastructure for Clean Water Act of 2011″ which, if passed, would establish up to five Centers of Excellence charged with conducting research on green infrastructure and provide communities with training and technical assistance on how to implement green infrastructure practices. We should not have to wait for investments to make these common sense solutions a reality all across America. Edmonston is just one example of how infrastructure investments create jobs and make our communities healthier. Our infrastructure is in dire need of upgrades, and our communities deserve clean and safe water. Let's hope that we won't have to wait much longer - time is ticking. Ask your representative to support Rep. Edwards' bill.
For more highlights from the event, please check out:
- The Gazette: Edmonston's ‘Green Street' becomes keynote to environmental legislation
- Washington Post: Suburban DC town cited as model for green infrastructure investment
- Water World: Investments in water infrastructure create jobs, healthy environment