Partners in Progress

by Tom Damm

In a room inside Talen Energy Stadium normally reserved for Philadelphia Union soccer player interviews, EPA and a group of partners had a game-changing announcement to make earlier this year.

It had nothing to do with soccer but a lot to do with goals – goals for the City of Chester, Pennsylvania to prevent flooding in its neighborhoods, revive its economy, and reduce stormwater pollution impacting its local creeks and the Delaware River.

EPA was joined by Chester, state, and private sector officials to announce a Community-Based Public-Private Partnership, or CBP3, to plan, finance, build and maintain up to $50 million in green stormwater infrastructure in Chester.

The Chester Stormwater Authority and its private partner, Corvias, have plans to transform the face of the city, turning hundreds of acres of hard surfaces into absorbent green spaces and working with small, minority-owned businesses to generate hundreds of local jobs in the process.

Green Infrastructure not only helps prevent stormwater runoff and localized flooding, it creates safe walkable communities that enhance the quality of life for the people who live there. The green features will mimic nature and allow stormwater to soak in rather than rush into streets and nearby waters carrying trash, bacteria, heavy metals and other pollutants.

As the speakers took turns at the podium, the launch of the partnership was met with great joy, appreciation and more than a few Amens from Chester residents.

Chester officials called it an opportunity to “turn the page” in their distressed city.  Corvias praised the city’s “courage” to try a new approach.  And the state infrastructure finance agency, PENNVEST, confirmed a $1 million grant to kick-start the effort.

EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region provided technical and planning assistance to help design and develop the partnership, led by our Water Protection Division Deputy Director Dominique Lueckenhoff.   She was instrumental in developing the prototype for the concept – the successful CBP3 in Prince George’s County, Maryland – and has written a playbook for other local governments to follow.

Since the launch event, the Chester Stormwater Authority Partnership has developed a Long-Term Implementation Plan and conducted six community meetings to roll out the plan, with significant local attendance and input.  Five more meetings are scheduled in the coming months.  Feedback from the meetings is being used to determine the priority order of projects.

 

About the Author: Tom Damm has been with EPA since 2002 and now serves as communications coordinator for the region’s Water Protection Division.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

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Green Apps Forum

By Jeff Tumarkin

Almost six months ago I was asked to help manage the Apps for the Environment Challenge. I really had no idea what to expect as this was uncharted territory for EPA. We researched other government challenges and decided the only way we could possibly succeed without being able to offer prize money was to work closely with the developer and mobile user communities; to ask them what they need from us in order to develop Green Apps.

Now, after participating with hundreds of developers, students, open data specialists and government innovators at our “Building Innovation Through Partnerships” forum Tuesday, Nov. 8th, I can fully appreciate the contributions and collaborations from around the country that has created what will hopefully be a lasting foundation for an environmental data and developer community!

The forum included an afternoon of discussions, breakout sessions and recognition for the winners of the Apps for the Environment Challenge. It was amazing to see a room full of such diverse groups, from the young teenagers whose team was awarded Best Student App, to CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley, U.S. Chief Technology Officer Aneesh Chopra, and our own Chief Information Officer Malcolm Jackson, all together to celebrate one vision of putting environmental data into the hands of the public.

The Apps for the Environment Challenge resulted in over 100 ideas from users as to what environmental mobile applications they would like to see, and 38 finished apps. More than 2000 votes were cast for the Popular Choice Award, and the challenge itself became one of the most popular ever hosted on Challenge.gov.

During the Business, Tech and User Perspectives panel discussion, a key point mentioned was that if the federal government acts as a data wholesaler and not retailer, releasing bulk data in any computer readable format, this will lead to success with the developer community
At the end of the day, both Lisa Schlosser, Federal Deputy CIO, and EPA CIO Malcolm Jackson both reiterated that EPA will be looking for other means and opportunities for community building with the green apps community, and by working closely together we can accomplish great things through this continued engagement.

Personally, this has been the most exciting initiative that I have worked on in my 30+ years of working at EPA. Our Team did an amazing job, and it was truly and honor and privilege to work with such a creative and dedicated group of staff and managers. I am very excited about the future as we continue to work closely with developers and users. I am confident that if we continue to work together individuals and communities will benefit by having access to the information they need to make better decisions about their health and the environment.

About the author: Jeff Tumarkin, the communications lead for EPA’s Office of Information Analysis and Access, lives outside Washington, DC in suburban Maryland. When not working at EPA Jeff spends his free time cycling, kayaking, fishing and promoting environmental protection in his own community.

Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in Greenversations are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Editor's Note: The views expressed here are intended to explain EPA policy. They do not change anyone's rights or obligations. You may share this post. However, please do not change the title or the content, or remove EPA’s identity as the author. If you do make substantive changes, please do not attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

EPA's official web site is www.epa.gov. Some links on this page may redirect users from the EPA website to specific content on a non-EPA, third-party site. In doing so, EPA is directing you only to the specific content referenced at the time of publication, not to any other content that may appear on the same webpage or elsewhere on the third-party site, or be added at a later date.

EPA is providing this link for informational purposes only. EPA cannot attest to the accuracy of non-EPA information provided by any third-party sites or any other linked site. EPA does not endorse any non-government websites, companies, internet applications or any policies or information expressed therein.