Changing Places, Changing Lives, Creating Leaders

| Richmond, CA

Groundwork Richmond, established in 2010, is one of 20 Trusts of the Groundwork USA network. The organization has established programs that benefit both the environment and the community in Richmond California, forming strong partnerships with local organizations and agencies to … Continued

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Groundwork Richmond: Greening the Urban Landscape

Groundwork Richmond, established in 2010, is one of 20 Trusts within the Groundwork USA network. The organization plays an integral role in developing the greenway, greening the urban landscape, engaging the community, and educating youth. Environmental justice is also central to Groundwork Richmond’s programs, which benefit both the environment and the local community. Groundwork Richmond has formed strong partnerships with local organizations and agencies to provide meaningful job training and workforce development to build the Richmond Greenway and enhance urban forestry.

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Parks with Purpose: Community Driven Green Infrastructure

Through their Parks with Purpose program, The Conservation Fund and partner organizations are designing and implementing green infrastructure in underserved urban communities while engaging and training residents to make way for lasting change.

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Partners in Northwest Indiana are Leading People to the Water

Together, partners in the Northwest Indiana area are leading people to the water. The LaPorte Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) – established in 1937 by the Indiana Soil Conservation Act – plays a vital role in both the Trail Creek Watershed Partnership and the Northwest Indiana Federal Partnership. They offer a variety of programs that educate and empower the community to take an active role in protecting their environment. In addition, the LaPorte SWCD is involved in watershed planning, advocating and implementing best management practices within the Trail Creek Watershed.

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Partnerships, Education, and Action in Northwest Indiana

| LaPorte, IN

The LaPorte Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) – established in 1937 by the Indiana Soil Conservation Act – helps residents of Indiana to conserve land, water, forests, wildlife and natural resources within the state of Indiana. Initiatives of the … Continued

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Plaster Creek Stewards

| Grand Rapids, MI

The Plaster Creek Stewards initiative began at Calvin College in 2009 to provide experiential education and a working lab for students. Through several Michigan Department of Environmental Quality grants, EPA Urban Waters grants, support from the Urban Waters community, and … Continued

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Education and Action in the Merrimack River Watershed

| Lawrence, MA

The Merrimack River Watershed Council (MRWC), a non-profit organization formed in 1976, works to restore and protect the Merrimack River Watershed through education, recreation, advocacy, and science. In 2012, the MRWC partnered with the Northern Middlesex Council of Governments to … Continued

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Atlanta Watershed Learning Network: Educating and Empowering Communities to Advocate for Equity and Environmental Protections

Environmental Community Action, Inc (ECO-Action) – a grassroots organization that works with people to fight for their rights to clean air, land, and water – acts as a support system to the communities they serve by providing resources and creating partnerships with other organizations. They have developed many programs designed for educating and empowering the Proctor and Intrenchment Creek watershed communities to advocate for equity and environmental protections. Among their initiatives, ECO-Action is heavily involved in community education and advocacy towards the implementation of green infrastructure projects that address stormwater flooding issues and provide more livable neighborhoods for underserved communities.

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Proctor Creek Watershed: Green Infrastructure That Benefits Community & Environment

In 2013, the Proctor Creek Watershed was designated by the EPA as an Urban Waters Federal Partnership location, with goals to engage the community while improving water quality, providing green spaces, and supporting green infrastructure. The Conservation Fund was awarded an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant in 2016 to work with residents and multiple organizations of the Proctor Creek Watershed to create green infrastructure solutions that benefit the community and the environment.

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Drinking Water 101 webinar series: Understanding the Basics of Drinking Water Sources, Treatment, and Quality

Drinking water crises in Flint, Detroit, Toledo, California’s Central Valley, and West Virginia have highlighted the need to invest in our natural and built infrastructure while also providing affordable water to all customers to ensure access to safe and healthy drinking water. To engage constructively as a community member and advocate, it’s important to understand drinking water systems and policies, rules, and technologies. 

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Youth Leadership to Solve the Pollution Problem

| Denver, CO

Over the last several years, a diverse group of stakeholders has undertaken a watershed planning effort for the urbanized section of Bear Creek in the Denver metropolitan area. Groundwork Denver is integrating two recommendations integral to the watershed plan: water … Continued

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Groundwork Hudson Valley: Exciting Climate Change Curriculum Launched as Part of NOAA Environmental Literacy Program

Recognizing the need to provide quality climate change curriculum for public high school students in Yonkers, NY, Groundwork Hudson Valley has created a hands-on, multi-visual curriculum that receives high marks from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). Entitled Global, Local, Coastal: Preparing the Next Generation for a Changing Planet, its development was funded by NOAA’s Environmental Literacy Program, one of only six grants awarded nationwide.

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Creative Engagement: Involving Youth in Community Solutions

Three projects from different organizations in the eastern United States are using creative methods to educate students about environmental issues in their communities and to empower urban youth to make a difference.  While the issues that the communities face are varied, each organization is engaging youth to raise awareness and to create solutions.

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Proyecto ENLACE del Caño Martin Peña: Restoring an Ecosystem and Building Resilient Communities in Puerto Rico

El Caño Martin Peña (CMP) is a 3.75-mile-long tidal channel located within the San Juan Bay National Estuary in Puerto Rico, the only tropical estuary within the National Estuary Program. The degraded channel has threatened not only communities’ health, but the ecosystem as well. ENLACE engages in public education activities to promote an understanding of the impacts of environmental degradation, fostering critical consciousness and democratic action to support restoration efforts. The restoration of the estuarine tidal channel will allow for mangroves to flourish and increase biodiversity, improving resilience during storms and providing opportunities for tourism.

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Crowdsourcing Water Quality Data through Mobile Apps

Monitoring of our waterways is critical to identify issues of concern, to evaluate restoration projects’ success, and to gauge changes over time. New technologies are continually shaping the way we collect data, providing water quality monitors with new capabilities and … Continued

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Tackling Runoff through Community Education and Technology

In urban settings, stormwater runoff is one of the leading water quality concerns due to limited surface area where water can infiltrate into the soil. Impervious surfaces result in water flowing quickly across pavement and down gutters and sewers rather than dispersing out evenly over the landscape. The farther and faster the water travels, the more contaminants and sediment it picks up along the way.

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Lummi Indian Business Council

| Bellingham, WA

LUMMI NATION YOUTH: WATER QUALITY, WATERSHEDS AND SALMON The Lummi Nation Youth: Water Quality, Watersheds and Salmon project is a project that seeks to engage fifth grade students at the Lummi Nation School in active stewardship of the environment, focusing … Continued

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Reducing Plastic Pollution in an Urban Watershed

| Keyport, NJ

The project will identify, reduce, and prevent plastic from reaching the lower Passaic River watershed and Newark Bay complex. This goal will be achieved through surface water sample collection for microplastics, followed by public outreach and education. Student interns from … Continued

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Saturday Environmental Academy

| Washington, DC

The Saturday Environmental Academy is a free, weekend-based, out-of-school-time environmental education program for 7th and 8th grade students from low-income, urban communities. The goal of SEA is to stimulate interest in and provide a fundamental education about the environment, and … Continued

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Urban Stream Team: Freshwater Recreation Monitoring

| Los Angeles, CA

Recreation in streams and rivers is a popular activity in the Los Angeles region. Yet, there is a lack of data on the water quality of these freshwater recreational areas creating possible public health risks. Heal the Bay proposes to … Continued

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Exploring the Green Infrastructure Workforce

This study was produced by Jobs for the Future (JFF) as part of NatureWORKS, a national initiative to understand the jobs, careers, skills, credentials, and potential of the U.S. green infrastructure workforce; and was funded by the U.S. Forest Service’s … Continued

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Innovative Environmental Education for Watershed Stewardship

| Kansas City, MO

Since its founding in 1996, Blue River Watershed Association (BRWA) has been a leader in designing innovative experience-based environmental education activities to improve the quality of the Blue River watershed and nearby streams. BRWA runs four innovative programs, T.R.U.E. Blue, Macro … Continued

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Leaders in Community Engagement

| Atlanta, GA

With its roots in community struggle for environmental justice, the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (WAWA has grown into a dynamic watershed education, advocacy and stewardship organization. WAWA arose from community efforts to halt discriminatory waste water treatment practices in West … Continued

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Urban Waters Community Improvement Plan

| Malden, Medford, and Everett, MA

The Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) is dedicated to restoring and protecting the most urbanized watershed in Massachusetts. It partners with federal, state, and local agencies, using science—including citizen science—to influence public policy. Its signature programs include a 15-year old … Continued

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Creative & Inclusive Community Engagement

| Seattle, WA

The Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition/Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG) is a coalition of ten groups working to promote the health of the Duwamish RIver, a 5.5 mile long Superfund site that flows through Seattle’s Duwamish Valley. DRCC/TAG works to implement effective, meaningful, … Continued

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Restoring the Wabash River in the Heart of Indiana

The Wabash River, which is Indiana’s state river, has a rich economic and cultural history. As a tributary of the Ohio River, it is part of the upper reaches of the 1,245,000-square-mile Mississippi River Basin, and so was a vital navigation and trade route for French traders traveling between Canada and the Gulf of Mexico.

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The Emerald Necklace: Connecting the Mountains to the Sea

The San Gabriel River drains a 713-mile watershed in the San Gabriel Mountains, flowing as far south as Long Beach, where it enters Alamitos Bay as a tidal river. It shares its watershed with two other major rivers: the Los Angeles and the Santa Ana.

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Changing Behaviors Through Messaging

The Barr Lake and Milton Reservoir Watershed Association (BMW), with members from wastewater agencies, cities and counties, water providers, environmental groups, planning agencies, and recreational interests, believed that if Colorado residents knew how their daily choices affected the watershed, they would be more mindful and actively reduce pollution. In 2012, BMW was awarded an Urban Waters Grant from the EPA to develop and test clean water messages, including Spanish translations, and implement an ongoing messaging campaign.

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Ataque de las Algas poster

Youth Engagement on the Rio Grande: A Refuge for the Neighborhood

| Taos, NM

The Valle de Oro National Wildlife Refuge, located in the South Valley of Albuquerque, New Mexico, is the first US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) refuge in the Southwest to be designated an “urban refuge.” With funding from the US EPA Urban Waters Program, Amigos Bravos partnered with area organizations to engage youth directly in water quality monitoring in the Rio Grande and adjacent irrigation ditches. Many of the youth had never seen the river before, much less interacted with it.

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Albuquerque youth learn about stormwater and watershed health

Informing Our Future by Understanding Our Past

| Washington, DC

The Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum explores issues impacting urban contemporary communities. Its approach starts with research and documentation of urban life and history organized around the concerns that are relevant to the largely African American residents in the local river neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River, where the museum is located; then expands to metropolitan Washington, DC area and to like urban communities. Through its innovative research focus, exhibitions, and education programs on the issue of urban waterways, the museum has actively encouraged community investment and stewardship.

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Visitors to the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Community Museum explore the groundbreaking original exhibition, “Reclaiming the Edge: Urban Waterways and Civic Engagement” part of the museum’s ongoing long range urban waterways initiative. On view Oct 2012─Nov 2013, “Reclaiming the Edge” examined the consequences of the abuse of waterways worldwide and the efforts by communities to restore them. Photos: Susanna Raab/Anacostia Community Museum/ Smithsonian Institution

Youth and Community Engagement Changes Places and Lives

| Washington, DC

Groundwork Anacostia, a “trust” under the umbrella of Groundwork USA, is based in the District of Columbia’s Ward 7, which has the longest portion of riverbank—including four out of the five tributaries that feed the Anacostia River. The neighborhood has a large amount of green space in the form of National Park Service (NPS) historical preserves, Civil War sites, and city parkland. Groundwork Anacostia’s main focus has been to improve this parkland, as well as local derelict lots and vacant land, in order to improve quality of life and access for neighborhood residents, while also offering innovative education and job training programs for area youth.

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Groundwork Anacostia Green Team youth paddle the Potomac River

The Duwamish Valley Youth Corps

| Seattle, WA

The Duwamish is Seattle’s only river. It is a 5.5 mile long Superfund site that flows through Seattle’s Duwamish Valley – a highly developed urban and industrial center south of downtown. In 2014, the Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition Technical Advisory Group (DRCC/TAG) founded the Duwamish Valley Youth Corps (DVYC) with support from the Forest Service’s Urban Waters Federal Partnership. The DVYC supports environmental improvement projects identified by residents in the Duwamish River Valley. With a focus on urban forestry, river restoration, and green infrastructure, the program is equal parts environmental science, job skills training, stewardship, and hands-­on restoration.

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Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition

Reawakened Beauty: Place-Based Learning on the Jordan River

| Salt Lake County, UT

In 2008, many Utah organizations came together to develop a long-range plan for the Jordan River that laid out a vision for a revitalized river corridor. The Jordan River Commission was created to spearhead this plan, and it has been successful in building partnerships with organizations now working together to implement this vision. These collaborations have led to a new public appreciation for the river corridor as a recreational amenity and opportunity for conservation, environmental education, and community building.

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Jordan River, Salt Lake County, Utah. Photo: Jordan River Commission.

Stream Processes-A Guide to Living in Harmony with Streams

This wonderful guide, developed by the Chemung Soil and Water Conservation District in Horseheads, NY, has detailed, yet extremely understandable language and graphics (as well as humor) for people to be able to really understand our love-hate relationship with streams–especially … Continued

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Creek Care Guide–A Stewardship Guide

Developed by Prescott Creeks in Prescott, Arizona, this guide offers practical tips on creek-friendly practices that will help keep our creeks, lakes, and community healthy––starting at your home or business. The stewardship guide is a water quality primer for residents … Continued

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Stormwater Messaging Posters

These posters were part of a program funded by EPA’s Urban Waters Small Grants. The Northern Middlesex Council of Governments and Merrimack River Watershed Council created these posters in the language of area residents–working with the community to idenify the … Continued

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Engaging Elected Officials in Your Work

Recorded webinar offering guidance, tips and successful examples of engaging elected officials in urban waters work. Presenters include: Sven-Erik Kaiser, U.S. EPA Office of Congressional and Intergovernmental Relations; Keely Monroe, Alliance for Justice; and Rick Magder, Groundwork Hudson Valley.  

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Environmental Justice for South Wilmington, Delaware

Flooding in South Wilmington neighborhood is a severe and well documented issue. South Wilmington is situated in a 100-year flood plain and surrounded on three sides by the Christina River. Knowing the extent of these issues, the City of Wilmington applied for and received funding in 2013 to repurpose three brownfields sites into a wetlands park in order to alleviate flooding.

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The Joy of Water

Homeowners guide to managing water on residential property. Step-by-step “recipes” to use on properties to reduce water pollution and small-scale flooding. Download this resource

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Citizen-led Monitoring of Urban Wetland Restoration in New Orleans

The Citizen-led Monitoring of Urban Wetland Restoration in New Orleans creates active wetland advocates by placing technology into community members’ hands, especially in those of low-income Lake Pontchartrain residents. This effort was supported in part by a $50,000 Urban Waters Small Grant funded by EPA.

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Earth Force KIC-NET Activity Guide

Keep It Clean – Neighborhood Environmental Trios (KIC-NET) is an educator’s guide to show the relation between water quality and land use with quality of life and environmental health to students.

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Addressing Baltimore’s Vacant Land Problem

Baltimore, Maryland, home to over 30,000 vacant and abandoned lots and numerous economically disadvantaged neighborhoods, is also home to some of the most innovative job creation strategies and vacant lot reclamation projects in the nation.

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Action on the Middle Blue River

In 2014 the Blue River Watershed Association (BRWA) received $59,940 from EPA’s Urban Waters Program to work with its partner agencies to engage eight teams of urban middle school students, four teams this spring and four teams in the fall. BRWA will engage the youth in water quality monitoring studies, data collection, and community presentations and projects.

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Connecting Residents to Village Creek

| Birmingham, AL

Village Creek, which flows through the heart of Birmingham, was once considered one of the most polluted streams in Alabama. Today, thanks to the Freshwater Land Trust, and with significant support from the U.S. EPA, there is new hope. The Freshwater Land Trust has gathered together community, non-profit, city and business leaders who are working together to transform Village Creek into a community asset.

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Engaging Community and Tracking Habitat Health

Funded by an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant, the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association and the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council teamed up with the Rhode Island Dept. of Environmental Mgmt. and other partners to develop a fish community monitoring program for Rhode Island’s wadeable urban rivers and streams. Program goals are to assess changes to habitat health, target locations for water quality restoration initiatives, engage community members in citizen science initiatives, and provide water quality information to the public.

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The Old Smoky Hill River Channel

In 2012 the Pollution Prevention Institute at Kansas State University was awarded a $60,000 urban waters small grant from EPA, part of which was used to conduct water quality monitoring in the river channel in addition to engaging the public in the removal of invasive species along the river bank. Intended outcomes of their project include establishing an understanding of the pollutants present in the river and helping create a more informed public which understands the importance and process of maintaining the integrity of the river channel.

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Helping to Save the Rain

Once known as the most polluted lake in the nation, Onondaga Lake has received significant attention over the last several decades. The lake’s upper water’s have undergone tremendous improvement because of efforts to remediate industrial and municipal pollution. Improvements to the county’s wastewater treatment plant as well as the reduction of combined sewer overflows (CSO) through the use of both grey and green infrastructure have led to the resurgence of the lake’s fishery.

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A River for All – Fighting for Environmental Justice and Health Equity in Seattle

In 2013 and after 12 years in the making, EPA released its Proposed Cleanup Plan for the Superfund site, starting the clock on a 105-day public review and comment period. This highly technical document recommended a mix of technologies for addressing the river’s toxic sediments and meeting the four objectives of the cleanup, which include protecting the health of people who consume seafood.

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A Watershed Plan is Born

In 2012 Groundwork Denver received funding from the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment through the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) 319 Nonpoint Source funds. With EPA’s funding Groundwork Denver has successfully created a non-point source watershed plan for the Lower Bear Creek.

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Stormwater and Sewer Overflows “Sexy?”–Effective Messaging in Galveston Bay

Water quality is not the most zany or attractive topic in which to engage citizens. They know it’s important, but how, really, can they affect change? The Galveston Bay Foundation has launched a successful suite of programs —matching playful and provacative messaging with down-to-earth behaviors—that will empower local citizens to improve water quality in the bay.

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A Model to Engage Youth

Each model site is a place where neighborhood surface waters (streams and lakes), receives water runoff from storms (stormwater), and becomes an outdoor learning site for investigations and actions by students from nearby schools. Thus Keep It Clean (KIC) – Neighborhood Environmental Trio (NET) means a program focusing on clean water (KIC), each with a school, park (preferably with a recreation center), and an accessible body of water or waterway within a few minutes walk of each other (NET).

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Restoring a Watershed One Community at a Time: Groundwork NOLA

In a city like New Orleans, community is everything. Walks down the street, one can simply speak to everyone passing by, and everyone would keep an eye out for one another. Everyone was each other’s neighbor. Eight years ago, prior to Hurricane Katrina, walking around the Lower Ninth Ward meant passing several homes on every block.

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Restoring Balance in an Urban Creek through Green Infrastructure

Ellerbe Creek flows out of the heart of Durham, North Carolina through the community on its 14 mile path to Falls Lake Reservoir, a drinking water source for more than half a million people. It offers a refuge for people and nature from the stresses of city life across its compact 37 square mile watershed. The entire creek has been designated as impaired since 1998 for ecological/biological integrity. Falls Lake Reservoir has similarly been identified as an impaired water body due to excessive levels of nitrates and phosphates associated with poorly managed stormwater and failing waste water systems.

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The Many Forms of Community-Based Environmental Education

  Recorded webinar that explores the many forms that environmental education may take in urban environments, including case studies from Colorado, Texas and California. Presenters include: Donny Roush, (EarthForce), Charlene Bohanon (Galveston Bay Foundation) and Tamara Doan (California Coastal Commission).

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