Green infrastructure upgrades to protect waterways from raw sewage, USA

Posted on Mon, 2013-05-13 01:52 by Rosie M.

King County and the city of Seattle have agreed to invest in major upgrades to local sewage and combined stormwater collection, piping and treatment under settlements with the Department of Justice and the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA.

The agreements are the result of extensive federal and state government cooperation and pave the way for employing more "green infrastructure" projects like green roofs, permeable pavements, and urban runoff gardens, which help reduce demands on local sewer and stormwater systems.

"EPA is working with cities and counties to find smart, effective solutions to reduce raw sewage and contaminated stormwater," said Cynthia Giles, assistant administrator for EPA's Office of Enforcement and Compliance Assurance. "Today's settlements allow Seattle and King County to tackle their biggest water quality problems first and use innovative solutions, like green infrastructure, to help dramatically improve local water quality."

"Today's settlement will substantially reduce overflows of sewage-contaminated stormwater into the Puget Sound and other area waterways and significantly benefit the environment and health of residents of King County and Seattle," said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. "The agreement provides a long-term planning approach to managing the area's stormwater that integrates green infrastructure and requires improvements to system-wide sewer operations and maintenance."

Both agreements allow the city and county to use an integrated planning approach, which encourages communities to set their own clean water project priorities and invest in fixing the most pressing problems first. The settlements also require King County and Seattle to develop and implement a joint plan to improve system-wide operations and maintenance, since Seattle conveys the combined sewage it collects to King County's system for treatment prior to discharge.

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