Revitalizing WETropolitan Areas

By Christina Catanese

Have you ever wondered why development on edges of rivers so often seems to cut people off from the water, rather than giving them access to it?  In Philadelphia, when I walk across the Walnut Street bridge over the Schuylkill River, I sometimes wonder why rivers, the lifelines of our cities, are often under-utilized as a community resource.

Recently, EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and leaders of other federal agencies were in Baltimore to launch the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, an exciting new federal partnership to help surrounding communities reap the environmental, economic and social benefits that living near a water body can provide.

Revitalizing urban waters stimulates local economies by helping businesses, promoting tourism, raising property values, and creating jobs.  Access to safe and attractive urban water resources can also improve the quality of life for people living in urban areas, especially in underserved communities.  The value that urban water resources can provide is enormous, particularly in difficult economic times.

EPA’s role in the partnership will focus on using science and the law to protect and preserve water quality and provide assistance in assessing and addressing the legacy of contamination. Learn more about how EPA is participating in the Urban Waters Partnership.

To begin its efforts, the partnership identified seven pilot locations. Two of these are in the Mid Atlantic Region – the Anacostia Watershed and the Patapsco Watershed – and each has strong restoration efforts underway.

The Anacostia River Watershed is one of the most urbanized watersheds in the country. It’s also home to 43 species of fish, over 200 species of birds, and more than 800,000 people.  Current initiatives in the watershed include planting trees, restoring urban streams, and education and jobs for DC youth.  EPA has been partnering with DC and Maryland to reduce trash in the river with the Anacostia River Trash TMDL (as you’ve heard about in our previous blogs).

If you live or work in an urban area, how do you see urban waterways being utilized…or not?  What’s your vision for how urban waters can play a role in our lives, environment, and economy?

About the Author: Christina Catanese has worked at EPA since 2010, and her work focuses on data analysis and management, GIS mapping and tools, communications, and other tasks that support the work of Regional water programs. Originally from Pittsburgh, Christina has lived in Philadelphia since attending the University of Pennsylvania, where she earned a B.A. in Environmental Studies and Political Science and an M.S. in Applied Geosciences with a Hydrogeology concentration. Trained in dance (ballet, modern, and other styles) from a young age, Christina continues to perform, choreograph and teach in the Philadelphia area.

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