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Green infrastructure should protect Texans from flooding

Environment Texas calls on water board to invest flood funds in nature-based solutions
For Immediate Release

AUSTIN -- Environment Texas Research and Policy Center today called on the state to invest a minimum of 20% of the $793 million dollar Flood Infrastructure Fund in green infrastructure, including rain gardens, urban forests, and mimicked wetlands. Today is the final day for public input on the program.  

“We’ve been fighting floods with pipes for so long it’s hard to imagine anything different,” said Anna Farrell-Sherman, the Clean Water Associate at Environment Texas, and author of the organization’s letter, “but you don’t go fishing with only one lure: we need to tackle this problem with every technique we’ve got.”

Gray storm infrastructure, including concrete pipes, levis and dams, is designed to move water quickly, which can be important in truly torrential downpours. But helping water soak into local soil helps prevent flooding in the first place: green infrastructure techniques can absorb up to 90% of rainwater. This is extremely important for preventing local flooding because it holds rainwater in the soil instead of contributing to the swelling of waterways, and the rushing of water into our houses. It’s been proven to work: the one bayou in Houston that didn’t flood in Hurricane Harvey was the one protected by green infrastructure.

Houston has embraced green infrastructure in their recent flood mitigation plans, with a new set of incentives for developers. The city of Houston calculated that in addition to providing better flood protection, construction costs for green projects would decrease by an average of two percent, and maintenance by thirty-four percent compared to traditional grey projects.

As the water board decides how to spend the $793 million dollar statewide fund, Environment Texas argued in a letter that green infrastructure is a smart investment as it effectively reduces flooding, can be cheaper than gray infrastructure, and provides multiple additional benefits, including filtering rainwater to remove pollution, beautifying our communities, and cooling our cities.

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Environment Texas Research & Policy Center is dedicated to protecting our air, water and open spaces. We investigate problems, craft solutions, educate the public and decision-makers, and help the public make their voices heard in local, state and national debates over the quality of our environment and our lives.