Thank You Congressman Heck!
By Julia Luna, Communications Specialist
Have you ever taken a moment to stop and think about stormwater runoff? You may have heard the term before but what is it really? Simply put, stormwater runoff is rainfall that flows over the ground surface, though our drainage systems, and into our waterways. However, when rain falls, as it often does here in Washington, it flows over our roofs, driveways, and streets, picking up a wide variety of toxins that end up in Puget Sound. With our growing population, and as the need for new infrastructure continues to rise, it’s apparent that our state budget is stretched thin and a federal commitment to support stormwater infrastructure is needed.
Recognizing this large need, Congressman Denny Heck recently introduced the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act . Congressman Heck delivered a hearty statement to his House colleagues during debate, encouraging them to pass this bill, which they did that same day. Congressman Heck’s office provided details about the bill and the need for improved stormwater infrastructure in a July 16 news release:
“Stormwater is the single largest source of water pollution in America, yet very little is being done at the federal level to confront the growing problem,” Congressman Denny Heck said. “State and local budgets are stretched too thin and they deserve a federal partner to contribute to their efforts. In Washington State, we estimate we will need nearly 19 billion dollars of investment in stormwater infrastructure between now and 2036. This bill is an important first step to help experts and stakeholders find the best ways to fund stormwater infrastructure.”
The bill establishes a task force to study stormwater infrastructure. The task force, managed by the Environmental Protection Agency, would include representatives of federal, state, and local governments, as well as individuals from private and nonprofit groups. The task force will be required to submit a report to Congress of their recommendations no later than 18 months after the Innovative Stormwater Infrastructure Act is enacted.
In 2017, Congressman Heck and Congressman John Katko of New York introduced legislation to increase federal investments in research and implementation of green stormwater infrastructure. The legislation would provide money for stormwater experts to develop rain gardens, permeable pavement, green roofs, and other innovative, practical materials. These innovations offer a better return on investment than more water treatment or sewer infrastructure, would offer long-term benefits, and would create jobs for people building these materials in five Centers of Excellence established throughout the United States.
As you may know, Congressman Heck is a co-chair of the Puget Sound Recovery Caucus, which is devoted to promoting ways to prevent pollution from urban stormwater runoff, protecting and restoring habitat, and restoring and re-opening shellfish beds. Thank you, Congressman Heck, for all you have done and continue to do for Puget Sound!