The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is awarding $1.3M to 22 organizations in 18 states to help protect and restore urban waters and to support community revitalization and other local priorities.
“Often underserved communities in our nation’s cities face disproportionate impacts from pollution, and too often they lack the resources to do something about it,” said Joel Beauvais, EPA Deputy Assistant Administrator for Water. “EPA provides support to empower these communities to improve the quality of their waterways and to help reconnect people and businesses with the water they depend on.”
Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, runoff from city streets, and contamination from abandoned industrial facilities. Healthy and accessible urban waters can enhance economic, educational, recreational, and social opportunities in surrounding communities.
This year’s Urban Waters grantees will inform and engage residents in stormwater management and pursue community-based plans to address pollution in waterways. To accomplish these goals, many projects will address trash in waterways; test rivers, streams and lakes for pollutants; and prepare the next generation of environmental stewards for careers in the green economy. The 22 organizations receiving EPA grant funding are as follows:
Mystic River Watershed Association, Massachusetts ($60,000) will partner with towns and cities near Boston to create a multimedia education program to increase awareness of stormwater pollution for a regional coalition of municipalities.
Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, Massachusetts ($60,000) will develop a green infrastructure plan for Day Brook in Holyoke to reduce stormwater flow into the brook and resulting combined sewer overflow discharges into the Connecticut River.
NY/NJ Baykeeper, New Jersey ($48,150) will expand its plastic pollution reduction project by identifying, reducing, and preventing plastic transported via stormwater from reaching the lower Passaic River watershed and Newark Bay complex.
Sarah Lawrence College, New York ($60,000) will work with community scientists to investigate the severity and local sources of water pollution while increasing community engagement and stewardship in four underserved urban watersheds in the Lower Hudson River region.
Anacostia Watershed Society Inc., Maryland ($50,000) will educate and train middle-school students from low-income communities in Washington, DC on the problems associated with stormwater runoff and mitigation strategies through a variety of activities.
Virginia Commonwealth University, Virginia ($59,773) will develop a community greening and green infrastructure plan for its two urban campuses and the Richmond Arts District.
The Conservation Fund, Georgia ($60,000) will expand community engagement in planning for two future green infrastructure projects aimed at reducing stormwater runoff located in the headwaters of Proctor Creek in Atlanta.
University of Tennessee, Tennessee ($59,995) will, through a community-driven effort, collect nutrient data across the Baker Creek watershed, which will help the City of Knoxville and Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation develop a watershed restoration strategy.
Openlands, Illinois ($60,000) will, in partnership with the Healthy Schools Campaign, manage the Space to Grow program which transforms schoolyards into vibrant places that benefit students, communities, and the environment.
The University of Toledo, Ohio ($59,988) will, in collaboration with North Toledo community members, Vistula Management, United North, and the Toledo-Lucas County Sustainability Commission, develop a plan to incorporate green stormwater infrastructure (GSI) at low income, multi-family housing sites in Toledo, Ohio.
Lake Pontchartrain Basin Foundation, Lousiana ($60,000) will partner with several New Orleans-based underserved schools to assess neighborhood stormwater runoff. The data from which will be used to improve local pollution mitigation practices.
Amigos Bravos, New Mexico ($55,508) will work with an underserved community located in Alburquerque’s South Valley to address chronic flooding due to poor stormwater management.
Saint Louis University, Missouri ($58,793) will evaluate whether the use of brine pretreatment as an alternative to chloride used as road salt will help reduce local chloride water pollution.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Nebraska ($59,935) will improve stormwater and green infrastructure training and assistance for Omaha’s workforce, students, and residents.
City and County of Denver, Colorado ($60,000) will develop the Heron Pond Regional Open Space Master Plan to consolidate and restore into open space approximately 80 acres of land surrounding Heron Pond, with an ultimate goal of reducing urban runoff pollution, improving wildlife habitat, and creating recreation opportunities for the highly urbanized, industrial, and underserved Globeville neighborhood.
Groundwork Denver Inc., Colorado ($60,000) will work with local high school students from Sheridan, Colorado, an underserved community located at the mouth of Bear Creek, and Metropolitan State University, to determine the sources of E. coli feeding into the creek.
South Dakota School of Mines & Technology, South Dakota ($58,996) will develop and promote a stormwater and green infrastructure educational program for K-12 and college students and the broader community, culminating in a community design charrette for the planning of low-impact development and green infrastructure practices for the proposed Rural America Initiatives development.
Arizona State University, Arizona ($58,227) will work with students and Girl Scouts Troops to monitor water quality in local waterways and recreational fisheries to develop recommendations for community- based solutions.
Constitutional Rights Foundation, California ($59,673) will, in partnership with Los Angeles Waterkeeper and UCLA, expand its teaching curriculum for local undeserved high school students on community stormwater assessments to include enhanced STEM education, and will conduct local civic-minded community environmental projects.
Heal the Bay, California ($59,998) will partner with Los Angeles Trade Technical College and local high schools to monitor bacterial water pollution in the Los Angeles River, which will be used to make recommendations to local government agencies and watershed stakeholders for improving water quality and protecting public health.
Lummi Indian Business Council, Washington ($56,433) will teach third- through fifth-grade students at the Lummi National Schools about how a watershed works, water quality parameters, sources of impairments, and how this impacts the salmon and shellfish that the Lummi Nation depends on for subsistence, economic, and cultural needs.
The Lands Council, Washington ($45,250) will offer green job training and career pathways through the Green Sleeves Program at the Geiger Correctional Center in Spokane and will work with local high school teachers to develop and teach a year-long environmental science curriculum focusing on stormwater pollution and low-impact remediation.
The Urban Waters Small Grants are competed and awarded every two years. Since its inception in 2012, the program has awarded approximately $6.6M in Urban Waters Small Grants to 114 organizations across the country and Puerto Rico, with individual award amounts of up to $60,000.
To learn more about the funded projects, visit https://www.epa.gov/urbanwaters/urban-waters-small-grants
Information on EPA’s Urban Waters program: https://www.epa.gov/urbanwaters