- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
On July 24, 2012, the EPA announced a plan to spread $950,000 amongst 17 communities to expand green infrastructure that would improve water quality and thus protect human health. The awarded amounts run from $30,000 to $75,000. Many of the recipients are large communities with large water handling and treatment systems. Click on this link to see the list of communities and a description of each project.
Not a single project will actually accomplish a green (or any other color) project. Some plan to use the money to pay for a study. Some plan to use it to develop or buy software. Some plan to use it to study how to write regulations and determine how to code it. But not a single project that was ongoing or planned was on the list. The closest community was Sanford, Maine, who asked for funds to redesign a site that drained to the Mousam River to improve the water quality. Some were extremely vague such as La Crosse Wis., who asked for money to help model a flood-prone area because of climate changes.
I thought the goal of the program was to provide funds to help initiate green infrastructure to improve water quality and human health. Seattle mentioned they already had an extensive network of green infrastructure and wanted funds to improve modeling and evaluation tools. Maybe they are actually just asking for money to buy new software.
It is possible that there was much more involved in the actual applications but that did not come through with the EPA descriptions. It is also possible that the smaller communities that might have a better use for such funding were unaware of the contest (program) because they do not have the resources to continually read all the publications from the agency. If that is the case, then kudos to Seattle for having someone on staff with so much time on their hands they could write an application that awarded them $75,000 for a new software package.
On the other hand, it seems to me that the EPA is responsible to oversee communities and their handling of water treatment and stormwater. Their enforcement branch surely has a relatively good idea of who needs help improving their vital infrastructures. As an example, Detroit has been ordered since 1977 to improve their stormwater systems and for various reasons have been unable to fully comply. Just giving money to some communities may not be an answer though. There needs to be some mechanism to assure that the moneys are properly applied.
Some of these same cities that are planning to use this money to perform a study on how to implement green infrastructure also have a desperate need to improve existing water infrastructure. Inadequate planning and spending has allowed existing systems to grow old with no actionable plans for replacement. Many communities are in the position of spending their money on fixing broken pipes rather than being able to be proactive. Low interest loans do not seem to be helping as those monies still need to be repaid and the budgets are not adequate. The citizens are getting tired of seeing their water and sewer bills grow and rates vastly above inflation and not getting the improved systems expected. Our water supplies are the best in the world but how much longer will that be the case as we spend money on doing studies and not on providing proper maintenance?