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EPA Awards $120,000 in Urban Waters grants to Revitalize Mystic River Watershed

Release Date: 08/19/2014
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

BOSTON – In two separate grants, EPA is awarding $120,000 to two organizations working to clean up the Mystic River Watershed, just outside Boston, Mass. The two Mystic River Watershed grants are part of $2.1 million EPA awarded nationally to 37 organizations in 17 states and Puerto Rico to help restore urban waters, improve water quality, and support community revitalization and other local priorities.

Grants of $60,000 each to address water quality issues will go to Alternatives for Community and Environment (ACE) for the “Chelsea Creek Action Group Urban Waters Community Improvement Plan” along the Chelsea Creek and to Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) for the “Green Infrastructure program for the Malden River.”

“EPA funding to help protect urban waters from pollution will help protect the health of the thousands of urban dwellers who get out and enjoy recreation on our local waters,” said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “We’re proud that this money will help us continue the important work to address water quality issues in the Mystic River Watershed.”

With the EPA grant, Alternative for Community & Environment will partner with the Chelsea Creek Action Group to assist Environmental Justice communities in implementing their Chelsea Creek Community Improvement Plan to transform the Chelsea Creek to a community asset. ACE plans to engage residents in reviewing and updating the Community Vision for the Chelsea Creek, assisting them to understand existing regulatory mechanisms for protecting water quality, and facilitating their taking a proactive role in the promotion of the Chelsea Creek as an environmental, recreational, economic, and educational resource.

"Over the course of years ACE has worked with the environmental justice communities of Chelsea and East Boston to realize the community's vision of a Chelsea Creek that could be both an environmental and economic asset for their residents. We greatly appreciate EPA's support of these efforts with this grant and look forward to helping our partners the Chelsea Collaborative and NOAH in creating a community plan for improving water quality in the Chelsea Creek," said Staci Rubin, Senior Attorney and Environmental Justice Legal Services Program Director at ACE.

For the second grant, Mystic River Watershed Association (MyRWA) will work to promote green infrastructure in Medford, Malden and Everett, three watershed environmental justice communities. MyRWA plans to educate residents, business owners, and municipal staff about stormwater and build grassroots support for the installment of green infrastructure (GI) solutions on private and public lands. The program works directly with municipal staff in the three communities to train them on principles of green infrastructure as well as provide a technical GI guidance document, and expose them to areas contributing the highest loads of phosphorus and areas most feasible for application of GI. The project will ultimately recommend potential modifications to code/ordinace/bylaws in each community to promote green infrastructure.

“The Mystic River Watershed Association is grateful that US EPA is focusing increased attention on the Mystic River watershed and on the Malden River in particular. The Malden River is a very important amenity for the cities of Malden, Everett and Medford and it needs attention. We look forward to working with these communities to achieve our project outcomes – a more and better informed public, better equipped municipal storm water programs and stronger partnerships to guide this river to a more healthy condition. Through the Urban Waters grant that our organization has received project work will focus on storm water education and outreach, green infrastructure planning and greater understanding of existing water quality conditions,” said EkOngKar Singh Khalsa, Executive Director of the Mystic River Watershed Association.

A Steering Committee of government and local stakeholders has been active in the Mystic River Watershed since 2009 working on a joint mission to improve water quality and increase access to public open space. In 2013, this watershed initiative was named one of 18 Urban Waters Federal Partnerships by EPA. Through these federal partnerships, EPA and sister agencies are working to revitalize urban waterways and communities that surround them, transforming overlooked assets and driving urban revival.

The funding is through EPA’s Urban Waters program, which supports communities in their efforts to access, improve and benefit from their urban waters and the surrounding land. Urban waters include canals, rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, estuaries, bays and oceans in urbanized areas.

Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, runoff from city streets, and contamination from abandoned industrial facilities. Healthy and accessible urban waters can help grow local businesses and enhance economic, educational, recreational and social opportunities in nearby communities. By reconnecting communities to their local urban waters, EPA will help communities to actively participate in restoring urban waters while improving their neighborhoods.

More Information on EPA’s Urban Waters program: http://www.epa.gov/urbanwaters/index.html

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