Environment

ENLACE gets $60K EPA grant to reduce water pollution

A view of part of the Martín Peña Channel in Hato Rey. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)
A view of part of the Martín Peña Channel in Hato Rey. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing a $60,000 grant to nonprofit ENLACE to design a plan for a new stormwater drainage system along the Marín Peña Channel.

The funding is part of the EPA’s Urban Waters program, which supports community efforts to restore and revitalize local canals, rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, estuaries, bays and ocean areas and provide access to them.

The goal of the Urban Waters program is to fund research, investigations, experiments, training, surveys, studies and demonstrations that advance the restoration of urban watersheds, emphasizing underserved communities.

ENLACE’s mission is to rehabilitate the Marín Peña Channel and its bordering communities by building partnerships between the communities and the public and private sector.

“ENLACE has done outstanding work addressing the significant problems that plague the Marín Peña Channel,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “This planning process is designed to reduce water pollution and analyze how green infrastructure can be utilized in densely populated neighborhoods. It will also factor in the newer challenges created by climate change and intense flooding.”

ENLACE will design a conceptual plan for a new stormwater drainage system. Components of the conceptual plan will include water quality improvements to the Marín Peña Channel and incorporation of green infrastructure initiatives and mechanisms, while taking into consideration new challenges presented by climate change. The scope of work includes creating a participatory design process that will analyze green infrastructure options for a densely populated area.

The EPA is awarding grants ranging from $40,000 to $60,000 for projects taking place in areas that align with the 18 designated Urban Waters Federal Partnership locations. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership is a partnership of 14 federal agencies working to reconnect urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts.

All funded projects work to advance environmental justice in their communities, and focus on one of the following three categories: community greening and green infrastructure, communities and water quality data, or integration of water quality and community development in planning.

Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, toxics, 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. By reconnecting communities to their local urban waters, the EPA will help communities to actively participate in restoring urban waters while improving their neighborhoods.

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