Today’s blog post comes from the Clean Rivers Campaign – an education & advocacy program designed to raise awareness of the stormwater runoff and sewage overflow issues in Allegheny County. NMRWA is one of the CRC’s six founding organizations.
Two years ago, the Clean Rivers Campaign launched an advocacy campaign to educate our elected officials and the public about the opportunity to create a sustainable and vibrant Pittsburgh by investing in a green first approach to solving our stormwater runoff and sewer overflow problems.
The response has been incredible – Pittsburghers recognize it’s good for families, workers, and the environment to maximize our largest ever public investment to stop water pollution AND solve multiple community needs at the same time.
Recent events show that our advocacy has paid off! A few weeks ago, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ruled that ALCOSAN’s current, gray infrastructure-only plan for solving our region’s water quality problems was “deficient.”
Mayor Peduto responded with enthusiastic agreement, and we now have a real opportunity to build a “green first” plan for the Pittsburgh region that maximizes investment in green solutions, reinvests in neighborhoods, and creates family sustaining jobs. THEN we can looks to what complimentary gray strategies are needed to meet full water quality compliance.
But our work is far from over. Just recently, ALCOSAN reported that the Department of Justice (who serves as the legal representative for the EPA) has indicated a willingness to renegotiate the Consent Decree and to reach a new agreement by April—a very short window of opportunity!
We know that EPA officials have been flexible in allowing other cities to prioritize green solutions. But, ALCOSAN has shown that they lack the vision needed to make a “green first” strategy successful and to make large-scale green solutions a reality, we need visionary leadership at ALCOSAN. We also need compelling local data to guide implementation, and sustained public pressure to hold ALCOSAN accountable.
These three critical pieces stand between the choice to bury billions of public dollars under our rivers or to invest that money in ways that will create clean water, healthy communities, and economic opportunities for generations to come.
We need your help. And we need to act fast.
You stood with us at ALCOSAN public hearings and Beyond Tunnel Vision presentations. We need you to stand with us now as we keep up the pressure, educate our policy makers, and hold our leaders accountable to building a sustainable and equitable green-first sewer plan.
We also need your help to raise funds for something no one else has done—a study demonstrating the water quality improvements and community benefits that could result in from a green-first investment in the Pittsburgh region. This information will help leaders and advocates make the case for a “green first” plan.
We are calling on our supporters—you—to show your support for green solutions, bycontributing what you can to make the study happen.
In a recent letter to the Clean Rivers Campaign, Cynthia Giles, the Assistance Administrator for Compliance from the EPA wrote:
“Given the multiple benefits, EPA encourages the use of green infrastructure to the maximum extent possible. The EPA is supportive of, but cannot compel communities to employ green infrastructure practices. Communities can, however, propose the use of green infrastructure in their wet weather plans. We encourage you to share your thoughts and ideas on green infrastructure with ALCOSAN.”
Our work over the past two years has shown that Pittsburgh does want to go green. Now it’s time to make it happen. Please visit our IOBY crowdfunding campaign at: https://www.ioby.org/project/green-first-burgh