Two non-profit organizations in Kansas City, Mo., have been selected to receive a total of $119,940 in funding from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Urban Waters Small Grants Program for projects focused on improving areas around the Middle Blue River through Jackson County, Mo., and part of Johnson County, Kan.
The separate grants to the Blue River Watershed Assn. and the Heartland Conservation Alliance Inc., are part of $2.1 million in funding that EPA is providing to 37 organizations in 17 states and Puerto Rico to help protect and restore urban waters, improve water quality and support community revitalization and other local priorities.
The Blue River Watershed Assn. will receive $59,940 to work with its partner agencies to create and engage eight teams of underserved community youth by involving them in water quality monitoring studies, data collection, and community presentations and projects. Each team will include a high school youth coordinator, an educator and a mentor who is a professional in the field of water quality, environmental stewardship, engineering, biology, or a similar field. Students will share their connection to the watershed with others through presentations and community projects designed by each team.
The Heartland Conservation Alliance Inc., will receive $60,000 to study 3,000 vacant lands in the Middle Blue River watershed for the purposes of identifying properties to redevelop with green infrastructure or low-impact development. This effort will build upon current work for developing an overall Blue River watershed restoration strategy. The goal of the project is to improve watershed health and community vitality.
EPA’s Urban Waters Small Grants Program supports the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a collaborative effort of 13 federal agencies working to reconnect urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts. Established in 2011, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership initially focused on seven designated project areas in urban communities across the country. In May 2013, the Middle Blue River was one of 11 additional project areas added to the focus.
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.