The National Association of Clean Water Agencies (NACWA, www.nacwa.org) is celebrating Earth Day 2007 by forming a partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA, www.epa.gov), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC, www.nrdc.org), the Low Impact Development (LID) Center (www.lowimpactdevelopment.org), and the Association of State and Interstate Water Pollution Control Administrators (ASIWPCA, www.asiwpca.org) to develop strategies for promoting the benefits of green infrastructure to mitigate sewer overflows and reduce stormwater pollution.

NACWA has been at the forefront of efforts to advocate the use of green infrastructure as one way to address the nation’s clean water challenges that result from wet weather. Just last month, NACWA and NRDC crafted a Green Infrastructure Statement of Support to which nearly 30 organizations have signed on as signatories. As a result of this effort, EPA convened a meeting of the signatory groups this week to come up with a plan for moving the green infrastructure agenda forward.

Green infrastructure includes vegetated swales, rain gardens, porous concrete, and rain barrels to capture or divert storm water that otherwise would go directly into the sewer system and uses nature’s own mechanisms for treatment.

The struggle to meet increasing challenges placed on aging wastewater infrastructure from population growth, strict Clean Water Act requirements, and even the rising cost of construction materials and labor is ongoing, according to the NACWA. The EPA, the Government Accountability Office (GAO, www.gao.gov), the Congressional Budget Office (CBO, www.cbo.gov) and the Water Infrastructure Network (WIN, www.win-water.org) estimate the funding gap between what is currently being spent and what the nation’s clean water utilities need at $300-$500 billion over the next 20 years.