#TimeToBuild — that simple hashtag was one of the unifying messages for Infrastructure Week 2018. The week brought together infrastructure advocates from across the political spectrum to discuss the need for the country to address our infrastructure needs. This year, NRPA joined as an Infrastructure Week affiliate for the first time and hosted events to share our message.
We were pleased to spearhead an effort with our partners at the US Water Alliance and the National League of Cities to host a congressional briefing on green infrastructure. The event, “Water, Parks, and Cities: Partners in Green Infrastructure,” brought Kathryn Ott Lovell, Commissioner of Philadelphia Parks & Recreation, Kishia Powell, Commissioner of the City of Atlanta’s Department of Watershed Management, and Cynthia Pratt, Deputy Mayor of Lacey, Washington, to the Capitol to discuss green infrastructure. All three panelists talked extensively about how park agencies and water utilities can work together to implement green infrastructure. Both Atlanta and Philadelphia are great examples of this relationship between the water utility and the parks and recreation agency. These partnerships don’t come without their challenges, which both Commissioner Powell and Commissioner Ott Lovell spoke about, but the payoff can be transformational for local communities.
Another major theme of the panel, and an important topic for the Congressional staffers present to hear about, was the flexibility and funding needed from the federal government to make these projects a success. The projects in Philadelphia and Atlanta could not have happened without flexibility from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). EPA allowed both Atlanta and Philadelphia to deal with issues of pollution without building larger storm water collection systems, and instead focus their resources on green infrastructure. This green infrastructure method of treatment is more affordable to build and has a greater benefit to the community. Deputy Mayor Pratt spoke to the fact that cities need financial support from the federal government to make these projects a success.
Working together with the National League of Cities and The US Water Alliance, NRPA was able to share these important messages with Congress. NRPA’s Public Policy Team looks forward to working with these groups in the future and taking part in Infrastructure Week again next year, because it is #TimeToBuild.