Bay Journal

Urban Waters grants going to Anacostia, Patapsco watersheds

  • By Whitney Pipkin on July 22, 2014
Watts Branch in Washington, D.C. is one of the urban waterways that will benefit from a new round of EPA grants focused on urban projects. (Dave Harp)

Three projects benefitting the Anacostia Watershed in the District of Columbia and Maryland will benefit from $1.2 million in EPA grants to revitalize urban waterways. A project in Baltimore that benefits the Patapsco Watershed also will benefit from this round of urban-focused grants.

In the Anacostia, Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, the Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum and the University of Maryland each were awarded grants between $50,000 and $60,000 for projects that benefit the urban waterway and local community.

“We’re especially proud that all three organizations recognize the value of achieving environmental justice and engaging students and other community members in hands-on environmental learning and stewardship,” EPA Regional Administrator Shawn M. Garvin said in a press release.

The EPA awarded this round of grants to 37 projects nationwide that are taking place in one of its 18 designated Urban Waters Federal Partnership locations. The partnership of federal agencies says a focus on improving urban waters can grow local businesses and enhance economic, educational and recreational opportunities near cities.

With its $52,000 grant, Living Classrooms will launch a hands-on environmental educational program with third and fifth graders at Watkins Elementary School in Washington, D.C. Students participating in the Urban Water Watchers program will participate in three watershed ecology and water quality lessons in the classroom and spend time on the Anacostia River in the foundation’s educational vessel and in canoes and kayaks.

Read about Living Classrooms’ ongoing work along the Anacostia here.   

The Smithsonian Anacostia Community Museum will use its $60,000 grant to engage at-risk high school students in water quality monitoring activities along the Watts Branch tributary of the Anacostia River through its Citizen Scientist Project. The museum also will schedule community outreach presentations on the results of monitoring activities.

Watts Branch and the surrounding community have already benefitted from major transformations, which you can read about here

The University of Maryland will use its nearly $59,000 grant to implement a two-pronged pilot project on impaired sub-watersheds of the Anacostia. The project will first design low impact development (LID) solutions to retrofit area school roofs, parking lots, service drives and sport facilities in an effort to reduce runoff discharge. The project will also develop lesson plans that integrate the LID solutions into outdoor laboratories, which will be piloted at New Hope Academy in Landover Hills, Md.

Outside the Anacostia watershed, the University of Baltimore received a nearly $60,000 grant to benefit the Patapsco Watershed with a project in Baltimore. The university will use DNA-based microbial source tracking to estimate how much fecal bacteria pollution humans and dogs are contributing to outfalls from the Mill Corridor, a stretch of the lower Jones Falls stream that runs through “two historically blue collar neighborhoods,” the release states.

The data will help the city prioritize infrastructure repairs to reduce these sources of waste and help inform educational efforts among local students about their stream ecosystems. The project aims to eventually reduce bacteria loads in the lower Jones Falls stream and the Inner Harbor.

Read more about the EPA grants for urban waters here

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About Whitney Pipkin
Whitney Pipkin, writes about food, agriculture and the environment. She lives in Alexandria, VA, and is a fellow of the Institute for Journalists of Natural resources and blogs at
Read more articles by Whitney Pipkin


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