The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $2.1 million to 37 organizations in 17 states and Puerto Rico to help protect and restore urban waters, improve water quality, and support community revitalization and other local priorities. The funding is through EPA’s Urban Waters program, which supports communities in their efforts to access, improve and benefit from their urban waters and the surrounding land. Urban waters include canals, rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, estuaries, bays and oceans in urbanized areas.
“People, buildings, and businesses are all concentrated in urban areas, making it even more important to protect waterways from pollution,” said EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, in a news release. “These communities will receive grants, allowing them to help turn these waterways into centerpieces of urban renewal, spurring economic development and job creation.”
EPA is awarding grants ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 for projects taking place in areas that align with the 18 designated Urban Waters Federal Partnership locations. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership is made up of 13 federal agencies working to reconnect urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts. All funded projects work to advance environmental justice in their communities and focus on one of the following three categories: community greening and green infrastructure, communities and water quality data, and integration of water quality and community development in planning.
Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, runoff from city streets, and contamination from abandoned industrial facilities. EPA says healthy and accessible urban waters can help grow local businesses and enhance economic, educational, recreational and social opportunities in nearby communities.