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Company awards more than $114,000 to 25 community improvement projects
American Water Works Company, Inc., the largest investor-owned U.S. water and wastewater utility company, has announced recipients of the company’s 2009 Environmental Grant Program awards. A total of 25 projects will be supported by grants totaling more than $114,000.
Established in 2005, American Water’s Environmental Grant Program offers funds for innovative, community-based environmental projects that improve, restore or protect the watersheds, surface water and/or groundwater supplies in the communities it serves.
“American Water is committed to ensuring water quality through testing and treatment, as well as through consumer education and community protection programs,” said Debra Vernon, manager of corporate responsibility. “We are all environmental stewards in protecting our water supplies, and this program is one way we help communities play an active role in this important effort.”
The 2009 grant recipients, which are located throughout American Water’s service areas, include the following:
• WiLDCOAST received $7,500 to help build environmental stewardship for the Tijuana and Otay River watersheds. Pollution from the Tijuana River is responsible for 80% to 90% of San Diego County’s beach closures, while the Otay River watershed has long been threatened by illegal dumping practices. WiLDCOAST will work to improve the water quality of both rivers and empower local residents as environmental stewards through cleanup events, stewardship training and pollution monitoring and reduction activities.
• The Explorit Science Center received $2,500 in grant money to underwrite a new permanent Streambed Table exhibit in the Yocha-De-He Community Fund Wet Lab. The Streambed Table exhibit will include hands-on experiments with water flow, soil deposition, erosion and slope changes, and will demonstrate how dams work. Visitors will be able to design and build various ways for water to move through the streambed and see the effects on the land. The exhibit will emphasize the importance of being environmental stewards and the role of waterways in the region and the world.
• Below the Surface was awarded $3,000 for its “90 ways in 90 days to clean and conserve water” program. Focusing on the Des Plains and Mississippi watersheds, the project aims to increase awareness of upstream action and downstream impact and by providing one tip per day on a website; creating a watershed workbook for elementary, middle and high school students; and creating a water monitoring network in the Mississippi River online.
• Pontiac Township High School received $5,000 to help fund its P2D2 Pontiac Prescription Drug Disposal Plan. The program will focus on reducing the amount of pharmaceuticals in the water supply by providing the public with an alternative way to dispose of their unwanted medicines.
• Sun Foundation for Advancement in the Environmental Sciences and Arts was awarded a grant of $3,000. This grant will fund the creation of materials that outline the current Clean Water Celebration in Peoria, Ill., so that other communities and states may create a similar program, which is geared toward education on the importance of watershed protection.
• Will County Land Use Department received $3,000 to help fund the debris removal and stabilization of Fiddyment Creek. Partners for this project include City of Lockport, Will County, Homer Township, IDOT and Forest Preserve of Will County. The Des Plaines River Watershed is also addressed by the project.
• Sugar Creek Nature Park was awarded $7,500 to fund the development of a nature park and spread awareness about the protection of source water. Partners for the project include Crawfordsville Community Schools, Wabash College and Friends of Sugar Creek. The city of Crawfordsville has embarked on a three-year rejuvenation program for Sugar Creek encompassing a total area of 63.6 acres.
• Wabash River Enhancement Corporation received $7,000. The grant will provide funding to monitor 800 streamroad crossings for temperature, ph, nutrients, and copper. More than 150 community volunteers will be mobilized to complete the monitoring.
• River Action received a grant for $3,300 to fund the Duck Creek Buffer Program. The program includes planting 30 ft of native grasses and forbs along Duck Creek’s main stern and tributaries to improve water quality, provide habitat for wildlife, prevent erosion and sediment delivery and encourage best storm water management practices.
• The Friends of Wolf Run received a grant for $10,000 for a guided exploration program of springs in the Wolf Run Watershed. The program will educate participants on the hydrology, water chemistry and environmental issues associated with the more than 30 springs, seeps and karst systems in the watershed.
• The Raven Run Nature Education and Visitor Center Wet Laboratory was awarded $8,850 toward the completion of the facility. The laboratory will coordinate scientific investigations with outdoor educational programs that will reach as many as 20,000 schoolchildren per year. The new center will help ensure the long-term viability of the sanctuary as a focal point of conservation research and education, as well as a nature retreat.
• Cranbrook Institute of Science received a grant of $3,000. Through its established outreach program, “Water on the Go,” the institute will provide in-classroom watershed education and hands-on instruction for middle school students throughout Houghton County, Mich.
• Open Space Council of St. Louis County received $5,000 to be used to fund efforts in landowner outreach and education which were recommended in the Lower Meramec River Source Water Protection Project Report. The efforts will focus on the Hamilton-Carr Creek, Fox Creek and Brush Creek watersheds.
• Soil and Water Conservation District of St. Louis County was awarded $5,000 for its creation of a rain garden guide and ancillary materials in support of the Show Me Rain Gardens initiative. The projected outreach of the program is nearly one million people.
• Wildcat Glades Conservation and Audubon Center received $6,300 to fund programs centered on watershed protection education. The programs will be created to meet state educational requirements and will be offered to families, schools and students during a summer camp.
• Friends of Alum Creek and Tributaries was awarded $1,840 for its project to improve the quality of West Spring Run tributary by addressing the erosion issues resulting from receiving too much water from surrounding areas. By increasing the vegetation buffer, the water volume will be decreased and increased biodiversity will occur.
• Cumberland County Recycling & Waste Authority received $4,000 to support the pharmaceutical collection and disposal event for Cumberland County residents. The project offers an environmentally friendly disposal alternative for unwanted and expired medications commonly found in the home.
• Everhart Museum, Lackawanna County, was awarded $7,500. The grant will initiate an educational program for children to provide an environmental science experience with hands-on study at the museum and nearby Nay Aug Park. The program, called SPARCS (Science, Park, Art & Responsibility for Children at School), will develop educational units aligned with the Pennsylvania State Standards of Education on stream biodiversity, water well-being, horticulture and personal impact through reducing, reusing and recycling.
• California University of Pennsylvania, Washington County was awarded $4,000. The funding will support baseline research of the waters of the Pike Run watershed from which to build future educational programs, service projects and research. The project also includes integrating the data analysis into coursework in the university’s College of Science and Technology, and fostering relationships with community organizers with the goal of reforming a watershed protection group under the previous Pike Run Watershed Association name.
• Montgomery County Department of Parks & Heritage Services was awarded $6,500 to help support “Mowing to Meadows” in Norristown Farm Park to protect the Stony Creek watershed. By converting an abandoned five-acre ball field that lies in the floodplain into a naturalized meadow, the initiative will deliver significant storm water management benefits, including improved watershed and biodiversity, and reduced greenhouse gases from less frequent mowing.
• Abrahams Creek Watershed Association, Luzerne County, received $5,000 to expand efforts to improve water quality, control runoff and prevent creek degradation by restoring riparian buffers along several tributaries within the Abrahams Creek watershed. The project also includes educating local residents about storm water management, pollution control and issues related to improving the health of the creek.
• South Park Township, Allegheny County, was awarded $1,125. The grant will provide the tools to be used by volunteers performing the fall 2009 clean up along the Piney Fork and Peters Creeks, as well as help fund the tire and trash disposal. Community partners include the Tri-Community Anglers Association, Montour Trail Council, Peters Creek Watershed Association and local scouting troops.
• Berks County Solid Waste Authority received a grant for $3,000. The agency is expanding its pharmaceutical collection and disposal activities and education program to help keep over-the-counter and prescription drugs from finding their way into the region’s water supply.
• Borough of Pen Argyl, Northampton County, was awarded $737 to assist with volunteer efforts to apply markers to approximately 280 storm water basins. The project’s objectives are to alert the public that urban storm water and runoff pollution are serious threats to the health of creeks and rivers that supply drinking water, and to encourage residents to properly dispose of pollutants.
• Lower Makefield Township, Bucks County, received $1,000. The funding will assist volunteer efforts to apply markers to approximately 600 storm drains to help discourage residents from dumping illicit materials into storm sewers. The township’s Environmental Advisory Council is partnering with Yardley Borough and local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts to conduct the storm drain marking in the Brock Creek, Buck Creek and Delaware River watersheds.