Wednesday, July 11, 2012

City Receives Grant Award for Bellemeade Creek Watershed


The city of Richmond and the Green Infrastructure Center (GIC) have been awarded more than $59,000 in grant funding for the Bellemeade Creek Watershed Coalition from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The award, $59,671, is part of $2.7 million in total awards to 46 organizations in 32 states and Puerto Rico to help restore urban waters, support community revitalization and protect Americans’ health.

The proposed Bellemeade Watershed Coalition project builds upon widespread local support for environmental restoration of Bellemeade Creek in South Richmond. The project will establish a new community-based coalition that will be trained in myriad aspects of watershed stewardship and healthy communities. Bellemeade Creek is part of an urban watershed that includes the Bellemeade neighborhood and Hillside Court public housing development. It feeds into Goodes Creek, a tributary of the James River. Land use is primarily residential within the neighborhood, but the watershed project area is bound by commercial/industrial corridors along Route 1 and Commerce Avenue.

Over the past year, the City, GIC and its environmental organization partners have worked with community members, non-profit groups and business leaders to develop a Watershed Concept Plan for the Bellemeade neighborhood. The Plan was developed by integrating the new Oak Grove Elementary School (currently under construction), which sits adjacent to Bellemeade Creek, with the watershed to identify strategies to improve the health of both the creek and the community. Components include green streets that provide safe routes to school and improve water quality; creek crossings that provide watershed education and stream bank restoration; and community rain gardens that improve water quality and provide outdoor education.

The City has launched a number of new initiatives to promote walkability, greenways and healthy lifestyles in the city over the past several years, to include everything from crosswalk improvements and sidewalk repairs to stormwater runoff mitigation and a plan for better access to the James River.

“This grant will be extremely helpful as we continue to move forward with RVAgreen: A Roadmap to Sustainability. This grant will help bring together neighbors, students, and non-profits to make sure that the tributaries that flow into the mighty James are clean and healthy,” said Mayor Dwight C. Jones. “A sustainable and healthy Richmond can only be achieved with a healthy James River.” 

EPA’s Urban Waters program funding supports communities’ 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. The grants range from $30,000 to $60,000 for projects across the country, including a number of underserved communities. Recipients will promote the restoration of urban waters through community engagement and outreach, water quality monitoring and studies, and environmental education and training. To view a list of the projects that will be funded, visit www.epa.gov/urbanwaters/funding.

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 educational, economic, recreational, employment and social opportunities in nearby communities. By promoting public access to urban waterways, EPA will help communities become active participants in restoring urban waters while improving and protecting their neighborhoods.

EPA’s Urban Waters program supports the goals and principles of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership, a partnership of 12 federal agencies working to reconnect urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with communityled revitalization efforts.

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership closely aligns with and advances the work of the White House’s placebased efforts, including the Partnership for Sustainable Communities, to revitalize communities, create jobs and improve the quality of life in cities and towns across the nation. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership also advances the work of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative.

Information on EPA’s Urban Waters program: www.epa.gov/urbanwaters

Information on the Urban Waters Federal Partnership: www.urbanwaters.gov