Francisco Perez

Natural Cities, Healthy Waters

Goal: Protect Texans from water pollution, flooding, and drought with nature-based infrastructure features like rain gardens and constructed wetlands that help stormwater slowdown and soak into the ground.
Our waterways are special here in Texas, but unfortunately, they face increasing threats from flooding, drought and water pollution. A full two thirds of freshwater sites and nearly half of all our beaches were too polluted to safely swim in on at least one testing day in 2017. We deserve better, and luckily, nature-based infrastructure can help.  Here in Texas, we are advocating for the increased use of rain gardens, green roofs, wetlands and other nature-based infrastructure features which can prevent water pollution, mitigate flooding, ease drought, reduce urban heat and make our communities more beautiful. Learn more about our work below.
  • <h4>WATER POLLUTION</h4><h5>Rain gardens and other nature-based features can filter out up to 90% of pollutants in stormwater runoff.</h5><em>Anna Farrell-Sherman / Staff</em>
  • <h4>FLOODING</h4><h5>One in every ten Texans faces moderate or high risk from riverine floods. Nature-based features like constructed wetlands help to hold back floodwaters before they become dangerous.</h5><em>Boomertog / Shutterstock.com</em>
  • <h4>DROUGHT</h4><h5>Because nature-based features help rainwater soak into the soil, they help to replenish our aquifers, reduce urban heat, and help our communities be more resilient in the face of drought.</h5><em>Anna Farrell-Sherman / Staff</em>
Runoff pollution in Texas

Our State’s waterways, from Barton Creek to Galveston Bay, are the pride of Texas communities. They provide the water we drink, the rivers where we kayak, and the banks along which we play.

Unfortunately, runoff pollution threatens our water. The concrete jungle of development prevents rainwater from soaking into the ground, forcing it to run over roofs and roads, picking up oil, toxic chemicals, litter and animal waste. When this polluted water reaches our waterways it makes us sick and threatens the habitat of our wildlife.

The solution to runoff pollution is nature-based infrastructure, including rain gardens, green roofs, and the conservation of natural spaces. These techniques allow rainwater to soak into the ground, filtering out pollution, slowing floods, reducing erosion, and restoring our aquifers. Texas can use these features to protect our waterways. That’s why we’re calling on Texan communities to increase the use of nature-based infrastructure statewide: through innovative municipal policy, statewide research, and private development leadership. To protect our clean water, let’s use the best tools we have.

Clean Water Associate Anna presenting at a nature-based infrasrtucture conference
Francisco Perez
The Solution: Nature-based infrastructure

Nature-based Infrastructure imitates nature by allowing rainwater to slow down, and soak in to local soil. This prevents water pollution while mitigating floods, combating drought, and reducing urban heat. Common examples include rain gardens, green roofs, permeable surfaces and rainwater harvesting.

The benefits of nature based systems include:

  • Improving water quality. Stormwater systems can trap between 45 and 99 percent of solid pollutants.
  • Mitigating flooding. Nature-based systems can absorb between 50 and 90 percent of rainfall and have the potential to fully prevent flooding from less severe storms.
  • Preventing drought. Allowing rainfall to soak into local soils replenishes aquifers easing droughts later on.
  • Reducing urban heat. Green areas of cities absorb more heat reducing summer temperatures by 10-15 degrees.
  • Removing greenhouse gases from the atmosphere. Trees and green roofs can capture hundreds of pounds of carbon dioxide over their lifetimes.
  • Preventing toxic algae blooms. Filtering out pollutants decreases the amount of nutrient laden runoff that enters local waterways reducing the risk of toxic algae blooms.
  • Beautifying the landscape. Projects add greenspace to our communities, improving the quality of life.
Our Recent Work

Our goal for the 2021 Texas legislative session is to pass HB 2350, legilation that will increase access to nature-based infrastrucure by providing funding oppertunities for nature-based projects Texas communities. 

We work to support the adoption of nature-based stormwater management across the state. We tackle the biggest barriers to implementation: lack of education, lack of funding, and lack of coordination, through reports, legislation, and more:

Reports

2020 Stormwater Scorecard

2020 Safe for Swimming

Growing Greener Factsheet

Catching the Rain Factsheet

2017 Stormwater Scorecard

Comments/testimony

2020 Comments on TWDB’s Flood Infrastructure Fund

2020 House Natural Resources Interim Charge Two Comments

Support letter for research on degraded beach water quality

2019 Comments on TWDB's Flood Infrastructure Fund

News articles

KXAN: Ruling in property protest rights case voids Austin land development code overhaul votes

The Houston Chronicle: Trump administration scraps clean-water rule aimed at protecting streams, wetlands 

KXAN: New land development code clears 1st hurdle —what does it mean for flooding risks?

Texas Environmental News: Experts gather in San Antonio for nature based infrastructure workshop

KRLD News Radio: Texas Storm Water Pollution Study Shows Largest Cities And Counties Failing

San Marcos Daily Record: San Marcos Ranks Fourth In Annual Stormwater Scorecard

Texas Observer: Climate Change Will Make Harmful Algae Blooms in Texas Waterways More Common

Houston Chronicle: Trump administration rolls back clean-water rule for streams and wetlands

Blogs

The House Natural Resources Committee can Fund Nature-Based Infrastructure

Houston Invests in Nature-Based Infrastructure

Preventing Sewage Spills with Rain Gardens: TWDB’s new rules

Experts gather in San Antonio for nature based infrastructure workshop

Texas Invests in Nature-Based Infrastructure

Green infrastructure should protect Texans from flooding

Greener cities flood less. Why are most of Texas’ flood solutions still gray?