While we all understand that advocating for the profession of landscape architecture is important, at the most basic level many of us ask “what’s in it for me?” The Advocacy Committee of our ASLA Upstate New York Chapter will begin posting updates on important advocacy initiatives and successes as they relate to our nation and our home state. We hope that you are impassioned by our power to influence legislation when we act collectively and are invigorated by our successes.
A recent success was the passage of two widely bipartisan supported bills related to funding for clean water, H.R.7279 - Water Infrastructure Improvement Act and S.692 - Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act. These two acts increase spending for clean water and give States the mandate to promote Green Infrastructure and “Integrated Planning,” which can assist communities with meeting their requirements under the Clean Water Act.
The following statement was issued by Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA:
Thanks to the continued advocacy efforts of ASLA and its members, the Water Infrastructure Improvement Act is now law. Over the last decade landscape architects have been at the forefront of advocating for green infrastructure policies that improve community infrastructure, including water and stormwater management.
The Water Infrastructure Improvement Act also codifies a concept from the Obama administration known as “Integrated Planning,” which can assist communities with meeting their requirements under the Clean Water Act. This EPA developed integrated planning approach can lead to more sustainable and comprehensive solutions, such as green infrastructure, that improve water quality and provide multiple benefits that enhance communities.
S.692 - Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, SEC. 519. EPA Green Infrastructure Promotion, for the first time codifies the promotion of Green Infrastructure practices and instructs the agency “to promote the use of green infrastructure in and coordinate the integration of green infrastructure into, permitting programs, planning efforts, research, technical assistance, and funding guidance.”
The EPA provided $335,000 in technical assistance to five communities to develop elements of integrated plans for municipal wastewater and stormwater management, one of which was Onondaga County’s “Save the Rain” program http://savetherain.us/ The Onondaga County Department of Water Environment Protection worked with multiple municipal separate storm sewer systems (MS4s) and other stakeholders, developed priorities, and evaluated proposed wastewater and stormwater projects. This integrated approach is making great progress.
The EPA States:
In addition to supporting these community planning efforts, the projects resulted in three reports that provide practical examples and transferable tools to communities that are interested in integrated planning.
As Landscape architects we are in a position to help implement this law by working with municipalities to develop and design projects that improve water quality locally. Green infrastructure projects will help mitigate extreme weather events, create jobs, and public places that enhance our local communities.
H.R.7279 - Water Infrastructure Improvement Act https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/7279
S.692 - Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/senate-bill/692/text
Press Release, Congresswoman Grace Napolitano, co-author of H.R. 7279, December 19, 2018
News Announcement, statement by Nancy Somerville, Hon. ASLA, January 15, 2019
EPA website regarding Integrated Planning for Municipal Stormwater and Wastewater