The first deadline of President Obama’s Executive Order on Federal Sustainability (EO 13514) was recently met when EPA announced new guidance for Federal agencies to reduce stormwater runoff from Federal building projects.
The new stormwater guidance for Federal building projects calls for innovative approaches for preserving local water systems by using porous pavement, green roofs, rainwater capture for landscape irrigation, and other strategies. Managing stormwater on building sites – including strategies to make sure more rain is absorbed into the ground instead of channeled into municipal sewer systems – is an important way the Federal Government is leading by example.
Most stormwater from building sites runs off into municipal sewer systems. In cities like Washington, DC that have combined storm sewers, which are water treatment systems that treat rain water and municipal sewage the same way, big rainfalls associated with storms can create overflows that are harmful to water quality in local rivers and streams.
Look for local examples of leadership from the Federal Agencies in your own communities – like the green roof on the EPA Laboratory Annex in Cincinnati, or USDA’s rainwater capture system at the People’s Garden on the National Mall.
Nancy Sutley is the Chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality