Water Resources Education Network Awards Funding to 22 Partnerships

HARRISBURG, PA (May 16, 2014)  - The Water Resources Education Network (WREN) Project, a project of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund (LWVPA-CEF), has announced that 22 community partnerships across the Commonwealth have been awarded a share of grant funds totaling $68,720.

The WREN Project has two clean water initiatives: Watershed Education to prevent polluted runoff to waterways, and Source Water Protection Education to raise awareness about the importance of protecting public drinking water sources, including groundwater and surface water, from contamination.

Eleven partnerships will complete their Source Water Protection project work by June 30, 2014. The remaining 11 Watershed Education grant recipients will carry out grass-roots community water education projects between July 1, 2014 and June 30, 2015.

WREN is a nonpartisan informal collaboration of organizations and public officials working for the protection and management of Pennsylvania’s water resources, through grass-roots education and informed policy-making. WREN provides training and grants that support community coalitions raising public awareness of water resources. WREN projects empower communities to take action and develop and implement public policies to protect Pennsylvania water resources.

Eleven Watershed Education Projects totaling $47,720 were awarded funding for activities focusing on improving watersheds by reducing nonpoint source water pollution. Funding for NPS education projects is made available by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Nonpoint Source Management Program through Section 319 of the federal Clean Water Act administered by the United States Environmental Protection Agency.

The 11 grantees selected for funding under the 2014-2015 WREN Watershed Education Grant Program are listed below.

2014-2015 WREN Watershed Education Project Summaries:

Delaware County (SE): Chester-Ridley-Crum Watersheds Association

Project Title: Making the Most of Demonstration Rain Gardens: Connecting Residents with ‘How-to’ Information

Grant Amount:  $5,000 Partners: Aqua Pennsylvania, Media Borough, Nether Providence Borough

Focus: The partners will hold two community rain garden workshops to encourage homeowners in Media Borough and Nether Providence Township to install rain gardens as a way to beautify their properties, reduce polluted runoff and contribute to a healthier environment using native plants.  Partners will design two interpretive signs to be installed at two highly visible demonstration rain gardens previously completed by CRC.  The signs, equipped with QR codes, will link to new rain garden how-to materials at the CRC website, to be developed with assistance from the municipal environmental advisory councils (EACs).  A sign dedication ceremony is planned and a variety of social media tools will be used, including a “Share Your Rain Garden” button on the new website. An evaluation plan with surveys will be developed to measure increased knowledge among participants about stormwater management.

Luzerne County (NE): Conyngham Borough

Project Title: NPS, Stormwater, AMD and Related Issues: A Collaborative Project Between Conyngham Borough and Residents Aimed at Awareness, Knowledge and Action

Grant Amount: $4,600 Partners: Conyngham Borough, Friends of the Nescopeck

Focus: The partners will engage and educate public officials and residents about solutions to nonpoint source pollution and acid mine drainage (AMD) through two workshops, tours for local officials of the Jeddo Mine tunnel, construction of a demonstration rain garden on borough property to share best management practices, installation of five rain barrels at selected Borough buildings, and establishment of a resource center for AMD, stormwater solutions and BMP maintenance at the municipal building. The success of the project will be measured in terms of participation, including questionnaires and online surveys.

Dauphin County (SC): Covenant Community Corporation

Project Title: Clean Water Harrisburg: Awareness to Action

Grant Amount:  $4,600 Partners: City of Harrisburg, Capital Region Water, Harrisburg Rain Barrel Coalition, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay, Paxton Creek Watershed and Education Association

Focus: The Partners will conduct a minimum of six workshops focusing on polluted runoff and combined sewer overflows in the city of Harrisburg, as well as information about cost-effective green infrastructure approaches to help reduce the problem. The partners will develop a suite of complementary printed and internet-based resources to manage and pay for community-based green infrastructure projects. The target audience for the project includes, but is not limited to, the City of Harrisburg’s Public Works Department; the Harrisburg City Council; city neighborhood groups; faith-based institutions and business and nonprofit associations located within the service area of Capital Region Water. The partners will teach and facilitate the efforts of their target audiences to incorporate simple green infrastructure best management practices on their properties and in their neighborhoods. Project evaluation will involve pre- and post-surveys to gauge increased understanding and changes in attitudes and behaviors among community members.

Delaware County (SE): Haverford Township Parks and Recreation

Project Title: Haverford Reserve Storm Water Education and Rain Garden Installation Project

Grant Amount: $4,185 Partners: Delaware County Conservation District, Delaware County Master Gardeners, Haverford Township

Environmental Advisory Committee, Eastern Delaware County Stormwater Collaborative

Focus: The partners will conduct two rain garden workshops and planting sessions at the Haverford Reserve and produce printed and audio/visual materials to encourage and help promote the goal of the installation of 100 rain gardens during the next 10 years in the Township. Haverford officials and residents participating in the project will form a core group that will provide the expertise needed to reach this Township-wide goal of using rain gardens to improve infiltration, reduce polluted runoff and create beautiful, native gardens that achieve multiple goals and reduce sediment pollution to the Darby-Cobbs Watershed. Partners will assess project results through an evaluation plan.

Lycoming County (NC): Hughesville Borough

Project Title: Storm Water Drains Identification and Marking

Grant Amount: $2,885 Partners: Hughesville Council, Hughesville Borough Water Authority, Hughesville Volunteer Fire Company

Focus: The partners will identify and mark the stormwater drain systems in the borough to raise awareness among emergency responders, businesses, residents and municipal officials about the direct connection between storm drains and streams, and that contaminants from a hazardous spill may pass through the drains, directly to local streams and threaten water quality. Partners will use a Geographic Information System (GIS) to map the stormwater system, and generate wall-mounted maps for emergency response. Door hangers will be created with information about protecting the watershed and what to do in the event of a hazardous spill, and will be distributed by the mayor and members of the borough council to every residence in the borough. Presentations will be made to the borough council, fire department and water authority to familiarize them with the new drain marking system and the need for stormwater protection. An evaluation will be completed to determine increased understanding among community members.

Indiana County (SW): Indiana County Conservation District

Project Title: Indiana County Stormwater Education Partnership

Grant Amount:  $4,750 Partners: Indiana County League of Women Voters, White Township Supervisors, Indiana County Office of Planning and Development, Indiana Community Garden (ICG), Evergreen Conservancy

Focus: Collaborating with ongoing county efforts, this project will address the pollution effects of stormwater runoff by holding a stormwater education and management workshop featuring recognized experts.  Aimed at municipal and county officials and engineers in and around Indiana County, the workshop will feature the benefits of existing rain gardens and water friendly practices, as well as provide additional resources to municipal officials and staff to encourage the development and installation of innovative stormwater management practices in their own municipalities. The partners will create two interpretive rain garden signs to be installed at existing rain gardens in highly visible areas. Project evaluation will involve pre- and post-surveys and evidence of progress toward enacting stormwater regulations on a local level.

Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Butler, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Washington and Westmoreland Counties (SW): Penn’s Corner RC&D Council (Penn’s Corner Conservancy and Charitable Trust)

Project Title: Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater Management

Grant Amount: $4,700 Partners: Westmoreland County Conservation District, Westmoreland County (Department of Planning and Development), Penn State Cooperative Extension, Allegheny County Conservation District, City of Pittsburgh, Allegheny County – County Executive’s Office

Focus: The partners will revise Lancaster County’s publication The Homeowner’s Guide to Stormwater, for a southwestern Pennsylvania audience. The partners will produce 7,500 copies of the 26-page Guide as well as an electronic version that will be distributed among municipalities by Conservation Districts in a nine-county area. The new Guide will be used as an educational tool for homeowners in southwestern PA in order to foster a more active role in managing stormwater generated on their properties, rather than allowing the runoff to increase pressure on the existing infrastructure. Project partners and conservation districts will track distribution of the Guide to the municipalities in order to note where additional requests for information are received and what additional information is needed for homeowners.

Delaware County (SE): Radnor Township Environmental Advisory Council

Project Title: Township Building Educational Rain Garden Construction and Workshop

Grant Amount: $3,000 Partners: Radnor Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), Radnor Township, Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership (Villanova University), Audubon, PA, Darby Creek Valley Association, The Radnor Conservancy, Radnor Bird Town, Memorial Library of Radnor Township, Chanticleer Gardens, Wayne Art Center

Focus: The partners will construct demonstration rain gardens on the grounds of the Radnor Township Municipal Building. Educational signage will be installed at the site to provide information on the area’s watershed, the importance of protecting water quality and best management practices to mitigate pollution and run-off. An educational workshop will be held to educate Township residents about how ‘green infrastructure’ projects, such as rain gardens, can provide natural solutions to reduce runoff volume and improve runoff water quality. Rain garden information and a video of the educational workshop will be posted on the Township’s “Green Radnor” webpage to expand access. Evaluation strategies will assess short-term, medium and long-term impacts correlated to the Township’s Comprehensive Stormwater Management Study.

Schuylkill County (NE): Schuylkill Headwaters Association, Inc. (SHA)

Project Title: Blue Mountain Green Vision: Planting Rain Gardens for Community Change

Grant Amount:  $5,000 Partners: Orwigsburg Borough, Blue Mountain School District, Orwigsburg Lions Club, Schuylkill Conservation District

Focus: The partners will conduct the first collaborative stormwater best management project of its kind in Schuylkill County to engage residents in the Borough of Orwigsburg and surrounding communities. They will work with 20 Blue Mountain School District Green Club high school students to plan the retrofit of an existing stormwater retention basin into a rain garden upstream from a deeply eroded swale.  Installation of the new rain garden will be done by 250 middle school students from the district using 5,000 native plants. Educational signage will be created and installed by students and the Orwigsburg Lions Club to inspire residents to take action by installing rain gardens on their own properties. Partners will conduct a Community Information Session about stormwater solutions along with a student-led tour of the rain garden. The project will be evaluated using pre- and post-surveys.

Tioga County (NC): Tioga County Conservation District

Project Title: Tioga County Source Water Protection NPS Media Outreach

Grant Amount: $4,000 Partners: Tioga County Planning Commission, Tioga County Sourcewater Protection Coalition

Focus: Partners will create two 3-minute videos on non-point source pollution and what local communities can do to protect and enhance the most valuable natural resource – water. Officials from municipalities and local watershed groups will be interviewed for the videos. The partners plan to release the videos through social media, local municipal and county websites and the local TV station, as well as use them during the local Fair, in the Tioga Countryside Council film series and at educational venues. The project’s goal is to build connections between the local water suppliers, municipalities and residents in order to increase best management practice installations throughout Tioga County, including increased use of rain barrels, rain garden installations and more participation from municipalities in the County’s Dirt and Gravel Road program.

Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties (SE): Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership

Project Title: Backyards with Benefits: Protecting Your Creek While Beautifying Your Property

Grant Amount: $5,000 Partners: Cheltenham Township, Cheltenham Environmental Advisory Council (EAC)

Focus: Project Partners will engage streamside property owners to attend a stream buffer workshop, design and plant five riparian buffers on selected creekside residential properties with the help of volunteers. Other streamside property owners will later be invited to an ‘open yard’ tour showcase featuring educational information and encouraged to install riparian buffers on their properties. Educational materials on backyard healthy stream practices will be distributed and a variety of social marketing tools such as “clean stream pledges” will be used.  Evaluations will be conducted to obtain information about barriers preventing homeowners from implementing a riparian buffer.

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Eleven partnerships have been awarded Source Water Protection (SWP) Opportunity Grants to help conduct drinking water protection initiatives in their regions. The grant funds total $21,000 for Source Water Protection projects that will be completed by June 30, 2014. Funding for the SWP Opportunity Grants is made available by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection’s Source Water Protection Program through Section 1452 (State Revolving Loan Fund for Drinking Water Source Water Protection) of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996 administered by the US EPA.

The 11 partnerships selected for funding under the 2014-2015 WREN Source Water Protection Opportunity Grant Program are listed below.

2014 WREN Source Water Protection Opportunity Grant Project Descriptions:

Centre County (NC): Central Pennsylvania Source Water Alliance for Protection Coalition  Grant Award: $1,075

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant enabled the Central PA Source Water Alliance for Protection to conduct its Clean Water Days drinking water education outreach efforts with schools in Centre/Clearfield County.

Lycoming County (NC): West Branch Regional Authority on behalf of the North Central Source Water Protection Alliance (NCSWPA)  Grant Award: $2,000

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will enable the West Branch Regional Authority on behalf of the new North Central Source Water Protection Alliance (NCSWPA) to assist a number of Lycoming County public water systems in the NCSWPA service area to update their SWP plan mapping into a Geographic Information System (GIS), update potential sources of contamination, produce updated SWP plans and develop and print public educational flyers.

Lycoming County (NC): West Branch Regional Authority on behalf of the North Central Source Water Protection Alliance (NCSWPA)  Grant Award: $2,000

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will enable the North Central Source Water Protection Alliance (NCSWPA) to incorporate as a 501 (c)(3) non-profit organization, create a web page for NCSWPA and provide public education materials for distribution to local water systems.

Lycoming County (NC): Williamsport Municipal Water Authority Grant Award: $1,380

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will enable the Williamsport Municipal Water Authority (WMWA) to acquire an Enviroscape® model as a teaching aid for use at the Waterdale Environmental Education Center, a facility that the WMWA is developing at its Water Filtration Plant known as the Waterdale Lodge, in a historic building. The model will help to illustrate the types of contaminants and pollution that can occur in a watershed if not controlled by good land use practices and best management practices.  WMWA wants to stress the importance of maintaining and protecting the Mosquito Creek, Hagermans Run and Lycoming Creek watersheds, which are the sources of Greater Williamsport’s drinking water supplied by WMWA.

Tioga County (NC): Tioga County Conservation District on behalf of the Tioga Source Water Protection Coalition  Grant Award: $1,800

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will enable the Tioga County Source Water Protection Coalition to map potential sources of contamination, source water protection areas, improve emergency response coordination and update source water protection plans using GPS. In addition, the grant will assist the Tioga County Source Water Coalition to raise awareness with display materials for drinking water public education.

Lancaster County (SC): Denver Borough  Grant Award: $1,450

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will assist Denver Borough with implementation of a stream monitoring and data collection program in the Cocalico Creek Watershed source water area and assist Ephrata Borough, which has an intake on the Creek. Results will be shared with conservation groups and the public in newsletters and online.

Lancaster County (SC): Chiques Creek Watershed Alliance Grant Award: $500

Project Description: Funds from the SWP Opportunity Grant will be used for outreach at the annual Watershed Expo on June 14, 2014 to promote public drinking water education. The event will include a groundwater model demonstration and other activities.

Berks County (SC): Center for Excellence in Local Government – Albright College, on behalf of Berks County Water and Sewer Association (BCW&SA)  Grant Award: $1,000

Project Description: The BCW&SA will work with its water system providers to identify critical locations for the placement of two Drinking Water Spill Response signs along area roadways.

Berks County (SC): Center for Excellence in Local Government – Albright College, on behalf of Berks County Water and Sewer Association (BCW&SA) Grant Award: $1,575

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will enable the BCW&SA to acquire an Enviroscape® Water & Wastewater Treatment model as a teaching aid for municipal education training, school field trips, in the classroom and as a display at the BCW&SA annual conference. The model will help to illustrate the types of contaminants and pollution that can affect drinking water sources in a watershed if not controlled by appropriate land use practices and best management practices.

Berks County (SC): Center for Excellence in Local Government – Albright College, on behalf of Berks County Water and Sewer Association (BCW&SA) Grant Award: $1,500

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will fund the following: print, mail, analyze data and prepare updated Source Water Protection Area maps of Berks water systems to show the locations of critical Source Water Protection Areas. This information will be presented to municipal officials, water and sewer providers and emergency personnel at the BCW&SA annual Conference.

Beaver County (SW): Creswell Heights Joint Authority  Grant Award: $1,000

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will enable the CHJA to continue educational efforts to the Authority’s constituents through distribution of brochures outlining source water contaminants and ways to prevent such pollutants.

Cambria County (SW): Greater Johnstown Water Authority Grant Award: $1,720

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will allow the Greater Johnstown Water Authority (GJWA) to purchase and install a stream data logger for the main feeder stream to the GJWA Dalton Reservoir. The data logger, and the data it provides, will further the collaborative efforts between GJWA, Cambria County Conservation District, Stonycreek/Little Conemaugh SWP Coalition and the Stoneycreek River Improvement Project (SCRIP).

Cambria County (SW): Greater Johnstown Water Authority Grant Award: $1,000

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will allow the Greater Johnstown Water Authority to begin implementation of a program to treat the nest and egg population of Canada Geese at the Dalton Reservoir, to reduce or remove the chemical hazard caused by the geese.

Beaver County (SW): Borough of Monaca Grant Award:  $1,000

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will allow the Borough to install Pet Waste collection stations, Watershed Protection Signs at parks in the watershed area and distribute educational cards focusing on water pollution and health risks of pet waste. The Borough Manager will also develop a community awareness campaign at the Borough’s website and highlight the issue in the Borough’s newsletters.

Beaver County (SW): Vanport Township Municipal Authority Grant Award:  $2,000

Project Description: The SWP Opportunity Grant will assist the Vanport Township Municipal Authority with the purchase of Enviroscape ® and groundwater models to be shared with public water systems in Beaver County as a teaching aid for use in public education efforts about impact from land use risks to public water supplies.

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