Science to Action: Urban Waters Education

| Los Angeles, CA

In 2013, UCLA Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IoES) partnered with LA Waterkeeper (LAW)  on an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant to develop a teaching curriculum for high school students at Jefferson High School in south Los Angeles in order … Continued

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Green Infrastructure to Decrease Stormwater Flooding, Enhance Water Quality and Promote Equity

To further combat the impacts of CSOs, stormwater runoff, and pollution in urban watersheds, local organizations and businesses formed the RI Green Infrastructure Coalition (GIC) in 2014. The Coalition is made up of nearly 40 local businesses, non-profits, and government offices in the Providence-Metro and Newport-Aquidneck Island areas. They are forming partnerships and using green infrastructure to decrease stormwater flooding, address climate change impacts, enhance water quality, and promote equity in urban watersheds.

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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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Lower Hudson Urban Waters Collaborative: Strengthening Stewardship through Partnerships and Community Science

To further understand the severity and sources of bacterial pollution in the four urban subwatersheds in the Hudson River Estuary, Sarah Lawrence Center for the Urban River at Beczak (CURB), supported by an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant, created the Lower Hudson Urban Waters Collaborative. Partnering with Riverkeeper, the Hudson River Watershed Alliance, and the Bronx River Alliance, the Urban Waters Collaborative created a strong partnership in the Lower Hudson Valley in which the organizations share experiences and combine data resources with the goal of strengthening stewardship and community science capacity.

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RiverXchange: New Mexico Students Connect Globally as They Learn about the Rio Grande Watershed

RiverXchange—a school-based program that supports and supplements Common Core and 21st Century Standards—is designed to introduce water resources concepts to young people using a variety of fun methods that integrate writing, math, science, and physical activity. By interacting with models, reading relevant texts, learning from experts, and going on field trips, students learn about watersheds, river ecosystems, and the importance of water conservation. They also learn how to monitor water quality and calculate their own ecological footprints, then internalize these concepts by writing about them in their own words.

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Raising Awareness: Microplastic Pollution in the NY-NJ Harbor Estuary

Advocating for change starts first with quantifying and documenting the extent of plastics pollution. The NY/NJ Baykeeper study illuminates the high prevalence of plastics pollution within the Harbor Estuary and highlights the importance of both decreasing plastics consumption and increasing disposal awareness. 

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Oklahoma City’s Drinking Water in a Struggling Watershed

In 2012, the Oklahoma Water Resources Board (OWRB) received an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant, sub-granted by the Oklahoma Secretary of Energy and Environment, to study the causes of the eutrophic conditions in Lakes Hefner and Overholser and to evaluate which Best Management Practices (BMPs) could significantly reduce the nutrient load affecting water quality in the lakes. Originally, the study focused on identifying BMPs that could be implemented in the lakes themselves. However, it was found that most of the pollution was coming from urban runoff entering the North Canadian River.

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Photo of Lake Overholser

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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Urban Waters Civic Action Project

| Los Angeles, CA

Funded by an EPA Urban Waters Small Grant, the Constitutional Rights Foundation (CRF) joined with UCLA’s Institute of Environment and Sustainability (IoES), and the LA Waterkeeper (LAW) to form a unique partnership between scientists, public policy professionals, and educators.  Together, they created the Urban Waters Civic Action … Continued

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Space to Grow: Transforming Schoolyards into Vibrant Places

| Chicago, IL

Space to Grow transforms Chicago schoolyards into beautiful and functional spaces to play, learn, garden, and be outside. Schoolyard transformations prioritize physical activity, outdoor learning, and community engagement. The green schoolyards incorporate landscape features, such as rain gardens, native plantings, … 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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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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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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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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Local Government Stormwater Financing Manual

This document from EFC EPA, published in 2014, was inspired by and written for local government leaders. Though effectively managing urban stormwater runoff requires leadership and bold decision making at all levels of government, it is at the local level … 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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River Voices (2015) Green Infrastructure & Urban Rivers

This issue of River Network’s quarterly newsletter explores the topic of turning our cities blue, of moving from gray to green infrastructure, and the related benefits to our communities of restoring the health of our urban waters. Download this resource

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Chesapeake Stormwater Network

Website of Chesapeake Stormwater Network, an organization that promotes more sustainable stormwater management in the Chesapeake Bay through advocating for the reform of federal, state and local laws, permits, regulations and designs manuals. Website Link

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Daylighting: New Life for Buried Streams

Report describing the process of daylighting streams. Daylighting projects liberate waterways that were buried in culverts or pipes or otherwise removed from view and re-establishes a waterway in its old channel where feasible, or a new channel. Download this resource

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Centennial Creek Restoration Project

Centennial Creek, a tributary of the Salinas River, begins east of the City of Paso Robles, California and flows into the Salinas River on the west side of town. The Salinas River flows into the Monterrey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This is significant because any improvements made to Centennial Creek, though miles away, will positively impact the marine sanctuary.

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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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Vacant Lots to Greenways in Kansas City

Heartland Conservation Alliance (HCA) was created as an alliance of diverse partners who share a vision and work collectively to conserve natural areas, connect people to nature and convene partners. Their mission is creating multiple benefits for people by focusing on projects that save Kansas City’s valuable natural resources and give them back to benefit the community—“ecological democracy.”

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Visioning for Green Infrastructure

While ECO-Action serves as the lead for the project there are many partners working together to address stormwater and combined sewer overflow impact on Proctor Creek. Green infrastructure concepts and principals are being infused into the Clark Atlanta University dual engineering courses. This marks a milestone in the efforts led by ECO-Action to increase awareness among faculty, staff, and students about the importance of green infrastructure and the type of positive impacts these practices and principals can have at a local level.

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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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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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Cleveland Botanical Garden Transforms Vacant Property Using Green Methods to Reduce Runoff

| Cleveland, OH

The Garden is a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to spark a passion for plants and cultivate an understanding of their vital relationship to people and the environment.” Their commitment extends beyond the gardens and into the community through various projects and programs that work to engage people in learning about the importance of a healthy environment.

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