Green Streets Improving Communities, Waterways

by Tom Damm

In a park-like setting along the Susquehanna River in Marietta, Pennsylvania, picnic tables were arranged in a large rectangle to give speakers room to talk about how their new green streets grants would control stormwater and otherwise improve their communities.

Some of the grantees came from hours away to share plans for their funding under the 2019 Green Streets, Green Towns, Green Jobs program, sponsored largely by EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Trust.

With posters and flip charts held tightly against a breeze off the river, a dozen speakers relayed highlights of their winning projects to an attentive audience of their peers.

We learned, for example, that in Baltimore, they’re turning hard vacant lots into absorbant green spaces.  In Martinsburg, West Virginia, they’re designing green features to prevent flash flooding.  And on the Eastern Shore in Cambridge, Maryland, they’re redoing a parking area so that rain sinks in rather than runs off into sewers and waterways with pollutants in tow.

You can get a full list of the projects and more information on the program here.

Mayor Harold Kulman of the historic host community, Marietta, took to the podium during the official grant announcement ceremony to describe how stormwater improvements will create jobs, beautify the downtown area and reduce pollution to the Susquehanna – the largest source of freshwater to the Chesapeake Bay.

EPA and the Chesapeake Bay Trust have been providing these “G3” grants for nine years, helping communities design and build projects that offer multiple environmental, economic and quality of life benefits.  The funds – nearly $9.4 million since the program’s inception – have been matched locally by about 2-1.

This year’s grants alone are expected to support more than 200 green jobs and reinforce one of EPA’s top priorities – improving water infrastructure.

About the Author:  Tom Damm works in the Office of Public Affairs at EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Region, contributing strategic communications in support of EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office.

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