The Environmental Protection Agency is awarding about $860,000 to 14 different communities in an effort to reduce water pollution. These communities will use the funds to expand their green infrastructures, which will hopefully improve water quality while also increasing the communities’ resilience to the issues that created the global climate change problem.
“Investing in green infrastructure pays off for our environment and our economy. It reduces water pollution and energy consumption while creating jobs,” said Gina McCarthy, an EPA administrator. “These investments help local communities build resilient systems to protect from severe storms, floods, and other impacts of climate change.”
The EPA states that this move is part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, a policy which states that communities should be supported and helped to prepare for oncoming climate changes by federal agencies.
These green infrastructures treat rain as it falls, keeping any storm water that may be polluted from getting into local communities’ sewer systems, effective reducing the pollution in local waterways. In order to do this, such techniques and tools as innovative street design, permeable materials, green roofs, trees, rain gardens, and rain harvesting systems are needed. These tools and techniques are intended to replace what are known as “gray” infrastructures, like ponds, filters, and pipes.
In previous attempts, the EPA has awarded 39 different communities a whopping $2.2 million in funding with the intention of improving environmental infrastructuresto better ready them for climate change’s effects. Such improvements further the ultimate goal because they reduce the burden on local water infrastructures.
Though the funding is limited, water pollution is a problem affecting the entire nation, as 1.2 trillion gallons of untreated sewage, storm water, and industrial waste get dumped into the water supply of the United States each year. Such catastrophic actions have made about 40% of lakes in the United States too polluted for swimming, fishing, or aquatic life.
Our nation is expansive and filled with diverse, fragile ecosystems. Even slight changes can cause huge repercussions. Take the Everglades for example. Between polluted runoff from agricultural operations and the encroaching urban sprawl, the Everglades’ complex water chemistry is being ruined. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council, “Nutrients such as nitrogen and phosphorus added by human activities cause profound imbalances in the Everglades water chemistry, disrupting native plant communities and altering wildlife habitat.”
Whether this funding will lead to a sustainable solution is yet to be seen. What is apparent, though, is that action does need to be taken on a macro scale. The EPA’s funding is limited in scope, but it’s always better to do something than nothing.