Working to Make a Visible Difference in Newport News

Newport News Assistanceby Jonathan Essoka

Our months of planning paid off last week with an all-day forum that brought EPA together with a host of other government agencies and partners to address the revitalization needs of Newport News, Virginia.

Newport News is one of five communities in EPA’s Mid-Atlantic region receiving assistance under the Agency’s “Making a Visible Difference in Communities” (MVD) effort.

A room full of about 80 people engaged in finding solutions to the most pressing problems facing the city’s most overburdened neighborhoods – from air and toxics pollution to equitable development.

A series of panels offered best practice examples and resources, and a networking session gave members of the community a chance to meet one-on-one with federal, state and city agency representatives.

There was good energy throughout the day with practical and positive discussions on the opportunities and challenges, and on the need for the process to be inclusive and the community to be involved.

As EPA’s MVD coordinator in Newport News, I had the pleasure of working with the city, the Southeast CARE Coalition and our other partners to plan the forum.  I know we’re all glad that the weekly conference calls, regular emails, and last-minute agenda changes are behind us.

Now the real work begins.

The information we gathered will help our agencies and organizations build on the progress already being made in Newport News.  We assured the community that we weren’t just dropping in and leaving.  We’ll continue to fit in where it makes sense to help the city as a whole address its revitalization priorities.  For example, EPA is helping to bring green infrastructure to a city schoolyard to serve as a model for reducing stormwater pollution and preventing flooding.

At the forum, EPA Regional Administrator Shawn Garvin called for a coordinated response to the environmental and public health issues identified by the community.

Based on the turnout and the dialogue, we have momentum behind that charge.

 

About the author: Jonathan Essoka works in the Office of State and Watershed Partnerships in the Water Protection Division of EPA Region 3.

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.

Redemption for Streams, Communities

by Tom Damm

Site design for Harrisburg project

Before and After: Poster with new site design stands at project location in Harrisburg.

Local residents couldn’t help but wonder why some 40 people were gathered under a tent at the site of a neighborhood eyesore in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.

One resident came by on foot, another drove up in his car to check out what was happening on this large asphalt parking lot flanked by dilapidated and shuttered buildings.

What they heard was good news.

The gathering was to announce the award of 17 Green Streets, Green Jobs, Green Towns (G3) Partnership grants, including one for design work to help the Salvation Army Harrisburg Capital Region relocate its operations to this abandoned site at the corner of 29th Street and Rudy Road.

According to the Salvation Army, the site is ideally situated near those most in need of its services, is accessible via a central bus route, and is in close proximity to several local schools.  And – the reason for the gathering – the site will include green features to reduce stormwater runoff and improve the livability and vitality of the community.

This G3 grant will be used to design a stormwater management system that will include 20,000 feet of rain gardens, 100 trees, 1,100 native plants, a walking trail, cisterns and other means to capture an estimated 6 million gallons of rainwater each year.  That rainwater would otherwise stream from the property with pollutants in tow, impacting local waters like Spring Creek in Harrisburg that eventually flow to the Chesapeake Bay.

This is the sixth year the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Chesapeake Bay Trust, in partnership with the Maryland Department of Natural Resources, have awarded G3 grants.  The more than 90 grants given to date are resulting in nearly $18 million in green projects, including more than eight collective miles of green streets.

As EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin told the crowd of awardees who came to Harrisburg from states throughout the Chesapeake Bay watershed, “This is an amazing partnership.  We’re improving water quality, but we’re also improving the quality of life in our neighborhoods and communities.”

 

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.

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.

Financing Faster, Cheaper, Greener Urban Stormwater Management

Partnerships, market-based incentives, and private sector investment are all key elements of driving effective and affordable urban stormwater innovation.

Partnerships, market-based incentives, and private sector investment are all key elements of driving effective and affordable urban stormwater innovation.

By Dominique Lueckenhoff

Cities and towns across the region are facing huge infrastructure needs to manage urban stormwater runoff, a growing contributor to water pollution. That’s why EPA convened a Sustainable Stormwater Financing Forum in Washington, DC on December 9.

This first-of-its-kind forum – described as “ground-breaking”, “visionary”, and “unique” – hosted representatives of federal, state, and local governments, non-government organizations, and academia, along with private sector engineers, developers, and finance industry representatives. How important was it that all of these different organizations came together? Seth Brown of the Water Environment Federation (WEF) may have said it best: “Making connections between these sectors is vital for the future growth of innovative financing/funding approaches that are needed for the successful management of urban stormwater runoff.”

The forum covered topics from partnerships to market-based incentives and private sector investment, all key elements of driving effective and affordable urban stormwater innovation. DC’s Stormwater Retention Credit program and the Philadelphia Water Department’s Greened Acre Retrofit Program were two of the localized programs discussed with the audience. Without a doubt, the highlight of the forum was an in-depth discussion of a community-based public-private partnership recently adopted by Prince George’s County in Maryland. Under an agreement, the County will partner with the private company to pilot $100 million of green infrastructure projects. According to Prince George’s County, the projects are designed to “provide cost savings, create thousands of local jobs and boost economic development.”

Sustainable solutions to urban stormwater runoff have the potential to spur local economic development, create jobs, and improve quality of life for communities, all while protecting the environment. It was inspiring to hear from experts and leaders in the field about the innovative approaches that will be critical to addressing complex environmental problems – like urban stormwater runoff – today and into the future.

About the author: Dominique Lueckenhoff is the Deputy Division Director of the Water Protection Division in EPA’s Mid-Atlantic Regional 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.