On May 9, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works held a hearing* on America’s Infrastructure Act of 2018. This hearing is the start of the biennial process of renewing the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA). During the hearing there was continued positive discussion about the promotion and use of green infrastructure in projects funded, authorized, or allowed under this legislation.
This bipartisan bill contains language championed by ASLA on the use of green infrastructure. In fact, thanks to the successful advocacy of ASLA, S. 692 – The Water Infrastructure Flexibility Act, was wholly included within this legislation. S. 692, sponsored by committee member Sen. Deb Fischer (NE), was passed unanimously by the Senate in October of 2017 and would promote the use of green infrastructure projects in addressing water management needs.
Throughout the hearing multiple senators and witnesses discussed the use of green or natural infrastructure as an effective alternative or compliment to grey infrastructure. Sen. Tom Carper (DE), the ranking member on the panel, even went so far as to praise natural infrastructure as useful in way that traditional gray infrastructure is not. He also spoke about how the use of green infrastructure along the coasts and shorelines could help mitigate storm surges and coastal flooding, echoing language in the Living Shorelines Act, another bill ASLA has supported.
The Society recently completed a successful Advocacy Day on April 26 where ASLA members spoke with senators, members of the House of Representatives, and their staffs about these same important issues. Resiliency, a critical priority for the Society, was on the lips or nearly every senator in the hearing room. Other provisions supported by ASLA that are included in this bill are the reauthorization of the Clean Water State Revolving Fund (SRF) and the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA). In its current form, this bill is a win for landscape architects, and the ASLA government affairs team will continue to advocate for its passage.
*The hearing’s witness panel included Pat Riley from the Family Farm Alliance, Dennis Sternberg from the Arkansas Rural Water Association, Kristina Swallow from the American Society of Civil Engineers, Delaware Secretary of State Jeffrey Bullock, and Tony Pratt from the American Shore and Beach Preservation Association.