As an advocate for the beautiful, clean, sparkling waterways of Texas, I have had the pleasure of working alongside engineers and policy experts to fight flooding, water pollution, drought, urban heat, and countless other issues caused or exacerbated by Texas’s overdependence on concrete water infrastructure. When stormwater flows over concrete it can pick up pollutants and build into toxic torrents that flood communities downstream. Again and again the experts I spoke with pointed to one solution: nature-based infrastructure. Nature-based infrastructure incorporates natural spaces into our stormwater system to help water slow down and soak into the soil, thereby protecting our communities from floods and toxic runoff.
The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) has acknowledged the power of nature-based infrastructure by prioritizing natural solutions in the Flood Infrastructure Fund rules and by naming it their first short-term goal in the 2021 Intended Use Plan. However, the TWDB’s current rules encumber communities looking to embrace nature-based techniques: nature-based solutions are too simple and too cost-effective to reach the high cost threshold for the Green Project Reserve Funding. Since the inception of the State Revolving Fund Programs here in Texas, only four projects have been funded in the nature-based infrastructure category. If we are going to protect our communities that needs to change.
We currently live in a state with vulnerable water infrastructure. One in every 10 Texans is at moderate or high risk of riverine flooding each year. More than 780 miles of Texas rivers and streams are unsafe for swimming due to stormwater runoff. Extreme heat claims an estimated 1,300 American lives each year, making it the leading cause of weather related deaths in our country. To protect our communities from these very real dangers we need to embrace nature-based infrastructure as soon as possible. HB 2350 will let our communities do just that. Please call your representitives to vote for HB2350 and when you do, remember the flooding after last season’s hurricanes, the dangerously high summer temperatures, and our beautiful Texas waterways.
The San Antonio River Authority’s office rain garden provides greenspace, attracts birds and butterflies, and filters the water from the building’s roof before it flows into the San Antonio River.