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Federal Agencies Expand Urban Waterway Revitalization Effort to Proctor Creek in Atlanta

Release Date: 05/17/2013
Contact Information: Davina Marraccini, 404-562-8293 (direct), 404-562-8400 (main), marraccini.davina@epa.gov

ATLANTA – Today the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture, Transportation and Urban Development, the Army Corp of Engineers and the Centers for Disease Control, along with other federal partners, announced that the Urban Waters Federal Partnership is expanding to Proctor Creek in Atlanta, Ga. Proctor Creek is one of only 11 communities nationwide to be newly selected for the partnership.

EPA Acting Assistant Administrator for Water Nancy Stoner was joined by EPA Deputy Regional Administrator Stan Meiburg and Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed in announcing the Proctor Creek partnership during a press conference at Maddox Park. The announcement marked the first stop of a Proctor Creek tour planned as part of the National Brownfields Conference also taking place this week in Atlanta. Officials from the many partnering federal, state and local agencies, along with business, nonprofit and community leaders were also present.

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.

“This is an unprecedented partnership,” said Nancy Stoner, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Water. “Thirteen federal agencies supporting local efforts—in both the public and private sectors—to transform degraded, forgotten waterways into neighborhood centerpieces that revitalize the surrounding communities.”

“Safe, clean rivers, lakes and streams are an important part of what makes urban communities work,” said Ed Jennings, Jr., Regional Administrator, HUD Region 4. “HUD strongly supports the Urban Waters Partnership and welcomes Proctor Creek’s selection. HUD will continue to work with our federal partners and the participating local communities to align appropriate HUD resources with water cleanup efforts.”

“The revitalization of Proctor Creek will transform neighborhoods throughout northwest Atlanta,” said Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed. “With the help of federal and community partners, this effort will spur economic development, connect communities with new recreation opportunities and green space, and integrate critical investments in storm and wastewater management. This public-private partnership demonstrates Atlanta’s commitment to becoming a top-tier sustainable city.”

“Communities in and around the Proctor Creek Watershed have long suffered from pollution caused by Atlanta’s aging sewer infrastructure, disinvestment in the urban core, illegal dumping and other environmental and public health hazards,” said Na’Taki Osborne Jelks, Chair of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. “The strength of the Partnership will be realized through collaboration with residents who have assets, local knowledge and a history of action focused on restoring the watershed.”

The Proctor Creek watershed, part of the larger Chattahoochee River watershed, is 16 square miles with a population of 127,418 people living in over 25 different neighborhoods. Decades of neglect have resulted in numerous environmental challenges—from tire dumping and brownfields to impaired water quality and pervasive flooding. Many of these environmental problems pose additional health risks to people residing in the surrounding communities.

Through the Proctor Creek partnership, agencies are working to recreate a sustainable creekside community in the city—transforming overlooked assets and driving urban revival. Five federal agencies are serving as “champions” for the local effort: EPA, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Mobile District, the Federal Emergency Management Agency, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the U.S. Department of Transportation.

With the addition of 11 new locations across the country, the work of the partnership, now in 18 communities, will expand to the country’s largest cities and underserved communities. These 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. A progress report recently released details the successes and plans for future actions at each program location, as well as actions taken by each of the federal partners.

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 spaces.

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

The 10 additional new project locations are:

- Big River and Meramec River watersheds near St. Louis, Mo
- Delaware River Basin that covers Philadelphia, Camden, N.J., Chester, Pa., and Wilmington, Del.
- Grand River in Grand Rapids, Mich.
- Green-Duwamish River in Seattle
- Mystic River watershed in Greater Boston
- Martin Pena Canal in San Juan, P.R.
- Middle Blue River in Kansas City, Mo.
- Middle Rio Grande in Albuquerque, N.M.
- Passaic River in Newark, N.J.
- Western Lake Erie Basin near Toledo, Ohio

More information about the Urban Waters Federal Partnership: http://www.urbanwaters.gov

More information about Proctor Creek: http://www.atlantawatershed.org/bureaus/storm/proctor-creek-watershed/index.htm