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Federal Agencies Expand Urban Waterway Revitalization Efforts in Western Lake Erie Basin

Release Date: 05/14/2013
Contact Information: Anne Rowan, 312-353-9391, 312-296-0883 (cell), rowan.anne@epa.gov. (Media only)

CHICAGO – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, announced that the Western Lake Erie Basin is one of 11 new locations selected for revitalization efforts by the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. First launched in 2011, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership works to reconnect urban residents with their waterways and open spaces.

EPA Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman was joined by Rich Sims, the Northeast Regional Conservationist for the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, and Lt. Col. Owen J. Beaudoin, Commander of the Buffalo District for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, at a kick-off event today at Middlegrounds Metropark in Toledo, Ohio. U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur, Toledo Mayor Michael P. Bell and Tim Schetter, Director of Natural Resources for Toledo-area Metroparks joined them for the announcement.

“Restoring waterways in the Toledo area will improve public health, provide recreational opportunities and boost the local economy,” said Hedman. “EPA, NRCS and the Corps will work with local partners to transform degraded waterways into assets for Toledo residents and to improve water quality in the Western Lake Erie basin.”

“Including Toledo in the Urban Waters Federal Partnership program is a big step forward for us,” said Congresswoman Kaptur. “We worked hard to get our region included in this initiative because a healthy Lake Erie is vitally important to a healthy local economy.”

With the addition of 11 new locations across the country, the work of the partnership is now in 18 communities. A progress report released last week details the successes and plans for future actions as well as actions taken by each of the 13 federal partners. Through the partnership, agencies are working to revitalize urban waterways and communities that surround them, transforming overlooked assets and driving urban revival. Projects will further the goals of the partnership and address a wide range of issues such as improving water quality, restoring ecosystems and enhancing public access to urban waters.

“The Natural Resources Conservation Service has a long history of working through partnerships to create sustainable environmental benefits, like improved water quality,” said Sims. “In 2006, NRCS and many of the partners here today established the Western Lake Erie Basin Watershed Partnership. Projects like the Toledo Rain Garden Initiative began with support from NRCS and the WLEB Partnership. Over 50 rain gardens planted around Toledo retained 200,000 gallons of untreated rainwater to date. The Urban Waters Partnership allows us to expand our efforts in the Western Lake Erie Basin.”

“The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) Buffalo District looks forward to collaborating with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Natural Resources Conservation Service on the Urban Waters Partnership,” said Lt. Col. Beaudoin. “The partnership will allow USACE to identify synergies between Federal, state and local agencies through our existing authorities, and engage communities on the importance of urban water resources management.”

Americans use urban waterways as sources of drinking water and for a variety of activities including boating, fishing and swimming. Revitalizing these urban waterways will reconnect citizens to open spaces and have a positive economic impact on local businesses, tourism and property values, as well as spur private investment and job creation in communities.

Launched in 2011, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership closely aligns with and advances the work of other White House efforts such as the Partnership for Sustainable Communities by revitalizing communities, creating jobs and improving the quality of life in cities and towns. The partnership also supports President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative aimed at making the federal government a better partner with communities that are working to provide safe, healthy and accessible outdoor places.

The participating agencies are:

- U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
- U.S. Department of Energy
- U.S. Department of Education
- U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
- U.S. Economic Development Administration
- U.S. Forest Service
- U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development
- U.S. Department of Interior
- U.S. Department of Transportation
- Corporation for National and Community Service
- National Center for Environmental Health/Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
- National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
- National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

More information: http://www.urbanwaters.gov