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Ann Arbor, Mich. — Ahead of a Congressional briefing in Washington, D.C., the Great Lakes Commission (GLC) released a report outlining steps to increase the adoption of green infrastructure in communities across the Great Lakes. The Great Lakes Regional Green Infrastructure Policy Analysis (https://www.glc.org/wp-content/uploads/GI-policy-analysis.pdf) provides recommendations to federal, state and provincial and local policymakers in the U.S. and Canada to decrease the amount of stormwater running off into area waterways and eventually into the Great Lakes.

Runoff of stormwater — rain that runs off roads and rooftops and collects pollutants along the way — is a growing cause of water pollution across the Great Lakes basin. Excessive runoff is a growing cause of flooding, and associated loss of property and economic activity.  Green infrastructure (GI) reduces runoff and improves water quality by trapping pollutants before they get into the streams and rivers that drain into the Great Lakes. GI includes features like rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, and street trees that filter and hold or slowly release stormwater.

“With a changing climate and the increasing frequency of extreme weather, local communities are struggling to deal with excess stormwater and associated flood events,” said John Linc Stine, chair of the Great Lakes Commission and commissioner of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency. “At the same time, costs for communities to maintain traditional water infrastructure are skyrocketing as aging pipes, pumps, and treatment systems outlive their intended lifespan. The ability to deploy green infrastructure is highly impacted by federal and state or provincial policies. This report allows us better understand federal, state and provincial barriers to green infrastructure and what actions policymakers can take to eliminate them.”

The analysis was highlighted at a congressional briefing organized by GLC and the Northeast-Midwest Institute that featured speakers from GLC, American Rivers, the Great Lakes and St. Lawrence Cities Initiative and Environmental Consulting and Technology Inc., and remarks from U.S. Reps. Debbie Dingell (D-Mich.) and Dave Joyce (R-Ohio).

The Great Lakes Regional Green Infrastructure Policy Analysis was undertaken as part of the GLC’s Green Infrastructure Champions Pilot Program (https://www.glc.org/work/champions), which aims to catalyze the adoption of green infrastructure practices and policies across the basin by bringing together leaders and helping them share their knowledge. The policy analysis and recommendations were developed with input from a regional advisory team. The Champions Pilot Program is funded by the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.

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