Urban Waters

Reclaiming America’s Urban Waters through Capacity-Building and Community Engagement

The Project | The Communities | The Outcomes |
Contact Information

The Project

Starting in early 2011, River Network partnered with U.S. EPA and Groundwork USA to “jump start” a new urban waters movement in the U.S. by building highly capable and sustainable community-based organizations.

We have provided $300,000 in regrants and intensive capacity training support to ten local organizations (see below) to help address the unique challenges of their urban watersheds. We also established an Urban Waters Learning Network to foster networking and provide training to a larger set of organizations working to restore urban waterways across the U.S.

As we enter the next phase of the project, we have expanded the Urban Waters Learning Network to include more than 50 groups that are recipients of EPA Urban Waters grants. These groups will participate in webinars of common interest, regional conference calls, workshops at national events like our annual River Rally and other networking opportunities.

We expect the Urban Waters Learning Network will grow as EPA continues to support local projects through its Urban Waters Small Grants Program. You may learn more about the Program, including about possible Requests for Proposals that might be active, here.

The Communities

  • Duwamish River Cleanup Coalition (Seattle, WA) advocates for the Superfund cleanup of the Duwamish River in south Seattle. With this grant, they strengthened their organization and programs to better serve the fishing families and environmental justice communities most impacted by the Duwamish River’s past and ongoing pollution issues.

  • Groundwork Buffalo (Buffalo, NY) works with the residents of Buffalo’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods and students from three Buffalo public schools to review vacant lot clean-up plans and help restore significant water resources through demonstration projects that use green infrastructure techniques.

  • Plaster Creek Stewards (Grand Rapids, MI) is a collaboration of Calvin College faculty and staff, residents, local churches, and community partners dedicated to restoring Plaster Creek, one of West Michigan’s most polluted watersheds. This grant supported the outreach/education component of a 3-yr. restoration plan to forge connections between the upstream agricultural communities and downstream low-income urban neighborhoods.

  • Village Creek Human and Environmental Justice Society (Birmingham, AL) has 20 years’ experience leading community-based educational, restoration and advocacy activities around the heavily impaired Village Creek, which flows through Birmingham’s poorest neighborhoods. This project is engaging community members and youth through water quality monitoring, a classroom-based science curriculum, and numerous community meetings and educational opportunities.

  • West Atlanta Watershed Alliance (Atlanta, GA) works to protect and restore three West Atlanta watersheds by encouraging residents to incorporate conservation practices and to learn about water issues affecting their communities. This project is engaging Proctor Creek watershed residents in community-led efforts to alleviate the area’s long history of flooding due to combined sewer overflows.

  • Additional organizations receiving intensive capacity-building services through this project include:

    • Groundwork Denver (Denver, CO)
    • Mill Creek Restoration Project (Cincinnati, OH)
    • River des Peres Watershed Coalition (University City, MO)
    • Park River Watershed Revitalization Initiative (Hartford, CT)
    • Prescott Creeks Preservation Association (Prescott, AZ)

For More Information

Diana Toledo
Director of Mobilization & Southeast Programs
(828) 258-2109