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EPA Provides $260,000 to Improve Water Quality in Onondaga Lake and Beyond; Grants to Fund an Onondaga Lake Watershed Coordinator and Green Jobs Training Program

Release Date: 08/08/2013
Contact Information: John Martin, (212) 637-3662, martin.johnj@epa.gov

      (New York, N.Y.) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a total of $260,000 to two organizations for work that will improve water quality in Onondaga Lake and the Onondaga Lake watershed.

      The New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) has used a $200,000 EPA grant to hire an Onondaga Lake Watershed Coordinator for a two-year period. The Onondaga Environmental Institute will use a $60,000 EPA grant to train people in Syracuse to develop, build, install and maintain controls on stormwater using green infrastructure. Green infrastructure is an approach to water management that protects, restores, or mimics the natural water cycle and enhances quality of life for communities.

      "Because of the tremendous work of concerned citizens, community leaders and government agencies, Onondaga Lake becomes healthier each year,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “These EPA grants will further these efforts, creating a cleaner lake and watershed for generations to come.”

      “The Onondaga Environmental Institute is grateful to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is excited about the opportunity to work with our partners, and looks forward to fulfilling this grant,” said Onondaga Environmental Institute President Edward Michalenko.

      “We at the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission are pleased to be able to assist with the ongoing restoration efforts for Onondaga Lake and its watershed,” said NEIWPCC Executive Director Ron Poltak. “The many dedicated partners engaged in this initiative have accomplished much to date and we intend to take advantage of the momentum established and build off their strong work.”

      NEIWPCC’s Onondaga Lake Watershed Coordinator will work with community groups, businesses and local governments and the Onondaga Nation to develop strategies for the restoration of the physical, chemical and biological health of the Onondaga Lake Watershed. The Watershed Coordinator will also initiate outreach awareness efforts with groups to explain or promote restoration of and access to Onondaga Lake and other natural areas within the watershed. In addition, the Watershed Coordinator will support local governments in assessing the impacts of proposed projects, land use planning and other local decisions on the integrity of Onondaga Lake. The coordinator is Aimee Clinkhammer.

      The Onondaga Environmental Institute will sponsor two green Infrastructure training workshops for low-income, unemployed adults at the L&M Training Center in Syracuse’s southside. Participants will be taught to create and maintain green infrastructure, including rain gardens, bioretention basins, rain barrels and green roofs. In addition, the program will include training on life skills, job readiness, workplace safety and exposure to a variety of “green” careers. The Onondaga Environmental Institute will also use its EPA grant to host two month-long afterschool programs to train young people ages 15 – 21 about green infrastructure, job readiness, life skills, workplace safety, community outreach and environmental justice. This grant is part of the EPA’s National Urban Waters program, which supports communities in their efforts to access, improve and benefit from their urban waters and the surrounding land.

      For more information about the benefits of green infrastructure, visit http://water.epa.gov/infrastructure/greeninfrastructure/index.cfm.

      Additional information on the EPA’s Urban Waters program is available at http://epa.gov/urbanwaters.

      For more information about climate change and the report recently released by the President, visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/climate-action-plan.

      Follow EPA Region 2 on Twitter at http://twitter.com/eparegion2 and visit our Facebook page, http://facebook.com/eparegion2.

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