Testifying for Rain Garden Tax Breaks

Testifying is different durring a pandemic, but that didn't stop our Clean Water Associate Anna from calling in to the Houston City Council Meeting last week to voice our support for nature-based infrastructure features like rain gardens and constructed wetlands that can help make our flood infrastructure more resilliant. (Image: Katie Haugland Bowen/flickr)

Houston Skyline and Buffalo Bayou
Anna Farrell-Sherman

Texas communities are tired of stormwater issues. Flooded basements after storms, drought across the panhandle, eroded streams, and algea poisoned lakes. To fix these issues we need to help our stormwater slow down and soak into the soil: we need nature-based infrastructure features like rain gardens and constructed wetlands. Thats why our Clean Water Associate Anna testified to Houston City Council last week in support of CM Kamin’s proposed Tax Abatement Program for Green Infrastructure. 

The program sounds complicated, but in reality, it is an old idea: the City Council wants to give tax breaks to property owners who use nature-based features to soak up stormwater on their land. Here is Anna’s Testimony:

“Hello, I am Anna Farrell-Sherman, Clean Water Associate with Environment Texas, a statewide advocate for clean air, clean water, and open spaces. I am here to state my support for the proposed Green Stormwater Infrastructure Tax Abatement Program.

“As our Clean Water Associate, I work to protect Texas communities from water pollution, drought, and flooding— issues that Houston faces far too often. 

“Green Stormwater infrastructure, from rain gardens to constructed wetlands, fights these issues by allowing stormwater to slow down and soak into the soil. Water that is held in the ground is cleaned of toxic pollutants, recharges our groundwater, and can’t flow over streets to join a raging flood. 

“The proposed Green Stormwater Infrastructure Tax Abatement Program will help the city of Houston make the most of the benefits green infrastructure can bring. This past January, I published a report looking at how well Texas cities supported the use of Green stormwater infrastructure in their local laws. Houston scored a 50%, ranking 8th out of 10 GSI hotspots. The main recommendation in our report was for the city to create GSI incentives for private developers, which has the potential to add 6 full points to the city’s score. This Tax Abatement program does just that. With those points, the city could tie for 3rd place on our scorecard, joining San Antonio and Austin as a statewide leader in protecting its citizens from the dangers of flooding and water pollution. 

“Environment Texas also supports the comments of our partners CEER Houston, Bayou City Waterkeeper, and Katy Prairie Conservancy, whose comments will be submitted in written form later today. Thank you so much for your time this morning and for considering this opportunity to protect Houston residents from flooding and water pollution by  bringing the benefits of green infrastructure into our communities.”


twitter conversation between Houston City Council Member Abbie Kamin and our Clean Water Associate


Anna Farrell-Sherman