Engaging Partners in Clean Water

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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.

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.

Hearing from allies in the fight for our environment

As a communications person, sometimes it’s hard to feel directly connected to EPA’s mission. How does editing a speech help protect human health and the environment? I’m not a scientist assessing monitoring data or an enforcement officer…enforcing things. I write about what they do.

Recently, though, I had an opportunity to get a little more involved by helping create an online discussion forum to get insights from the public on some of the biggest problems facing our nation’s water resources. We debuted Coming Together for Clean Water in mid-March and took public comments on watershed management, nutrient pollution, and stormwater management for two weeks so that we could get broad input on these topics in advance of EPA’s upcoming conference of the same title. The conference will convene about 100 executive-level leaders from across the water sector to discuss these three topics. The comments from the online forum will be shared with conference participants.

We received hundreds of thoughtful, detailed comments from people involved in all aspects of the water sector—state environment officials, engineers, advocates, and interested citizens. A lot of participants seemed to want to harness the momentum of the environmental movement by ramping up outreach efforts. By making people feel ownership of their watersheds, rivers, and lakes, we can help them become partners in caring for these resources.

Moderating the comments and watching the conversation grow on this forum (or being the “blog mama,” as I called it) was a great experience. Reading so many great suggestions for addressing water pollution, frustrations about what’s not working, and success stories made me realize that EPA is not in the environmental fight alone—we’ve got lots of willing partners from all walks of life, and they are eager to share their experiences.

About the author: Jennah Durant works on the Office of Water communications team. This blog is part of an ongoing series about EPA’s efforts toward the Open Government Directive that lays out the Obama Administration’s commitment to Open Government and the principles of transparency, participation and collaboration.

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.