Engaging Partners in Clean Water

by Tom Damm 

To appreciate how the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund is helping communities improve their local waters and lands – and ultimately the Bay – all you need is a quick look at the list of project summaries:

  • Assistance to seven townships in Pennsylvania with barnyard improvements, stream-side buffers and manure storage to manage agriculture runoff.
  • Outdoor classroom construction in Prince George’s County, Maryland, engaging teachers, students and building supervisors in stormwater management.
  • Eastern oyster restoration in Western Branch of the Lynnhaven River in Virginia.

Throughout the list of 47 projects, you can see how the Stewardship Fund is engaging farmers, homeowners, churches, businesses and municipalities in efforts to improve water quality and restore habitat across the Chesapeake Bay watershed.

The Stewardship Fund is a partnership between EPA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation (NFWF).   EPA provided $9.7 million of the nearly $12.7 million awarded in 2019, attracting almost $21 million in matching contributions.

Those gathered for the recent announcement of this year’s grants got to see the benefits of the program up close.  The backdrop for the speakers was one of the rain gardens installed with a 2017 grant at Our Lady of Mount Carmel Parish and School in Baltimore County, Maryland.

Students from the school’s Environmental Club stood front and center for a photo opportunity at the end of the ceremony.

The Gunpowder Valley Conservancy – the organization that worked with the school on the green infrastructure project – received another grant this year to expand its Clear Creeks Project.

The $200,000 grant will allow the group to provide discount funding in Baltimore County for “Bay-Wise” practices that reduce stormwater into local waterways, such as rain barrels, rain gardens and stream cleanup events.

At the announcement, EPA’s Chesapeake Bay Program Office Director Dana Aunkst emphasized the importance of programs like the Stewardship Fund, saying “local projects by groups and communities will continue to be critical to our success in achieving clean water.”

 

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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