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Water Resources Education Network Awards Grants To Support 15 Community Partnerships

The Water Resources Education Network (WREN) Project, a project of the League of Women Voters of Pennsylvania Citizen Education Fund, has awarded $65,000 in funding for the 2012 round to fifteen community partnerships across the state. 

            Projects will carry out grass-roots community water resource education projects between July 1, 2012 and June 30, 2013. 
            WREN is a nonpartisan informal collaboration of organizations and public officials working for the protection and management of Pennsylvania’s water resources, both surface and ground water, through grass-roots education and informed policy-making. 
            WREN provides training and grants for local coalition building to promote community awareness and development of public policies necessary to protect Pennsylvania water resources. 
            Since 1992, LWVPA-CEF has awarded almost $2 million in funding through the WREN Project to over 300 community partnerships working to safeguard Pennsylvania water resources.
            The WREN Project has two clean water initiatives: Watershed Education to prevent Nonpoint Source (NPS) pollution to waterways, and Source Water Protection (SWP) Education to raise awareness about the importance of protecting public drinking water sources. 
            Twelve non-point source (NPS) projects totaling $47,000 were awarded for activities focusing on improving watersheds by reducing nonpoint source water pollution.  
            Funding for NPS education projects is made available by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Nonpoint Source Management Program through Section 319 of the Federal Clean Water Act, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.  
            A list of all projects funding, including contacts for each project, is available online.  Information on projects funded in previous years is also available online.
            The successful grantees of the 2012-2013 WREN NPS Grant Program are:

-- Beaver County: Beaver County Conservation District, $2,800: The partners will conduct a storm drain marking project to raise awareness among businesses, residents and municipal officials about the direct connection between storm drains and streams , and that contaminants passing through the drains leads directly to local streams, impacting water quality.  Storm drain markers will be placed in the commercial downtown and surrounding area of New Brighton, PA, to serve as reminders that the storm drains lead to the  Beaver River.  Prior to the installing the markers, door hangers describing the project and water quality issues will be distributed to businesses and residences.  Several methods will be employed to promote the project including postings on the partners’ websites, the district’s Facebook page and through its newsletter.  A display will be placed in the New Brighton Library.  The Pre and Post surveys will be distributed to gauge increased understanding and changes in attitudes and behaviors among community members. 

            Partners include: New Brighton Borough.

-- Berks: Longswamp Township Environmental Advisory Council, $5,000: The project partners will hold a community stormwater management workshop that promotes use of rain barrels and rain gardens to reduce stormwater runoff and replacement of lawn areas with native trees and plants to create Birdtown habitats.  Workshop attendees will have a hands-on opportunity to learn while doing during the rain garden construction at township property in Longswamp.   Rain barrels will be offered to pre-registered attendees at a nominal fee.  Partners will create four strategically placed interpretive signs that address watersheds, wetlands, rain gardens, native plants, wildlife habitat and clean water.  A follow-up evaluation will be conducted to track attendees’ installation of the rain barrels and rain gardens. 

            Partners include: Lehigh Valley Audubon Society; Longswamp Township.

-- Bucks County: Bucks County Conservation District, $3,400: Partners will conduct a workshop for municipal officials, municipal engineers, planning commission members, township maintenance staff, developers and residents to raise awareness about the importance of maintaining stormwater best management practices to preserve their effectiveness over time, followed by a tour.  The tour will address issues involving porous pavement, rain gardens, riparian buffers, bioswales, mowing techniques and other BMPs.   Attendees will receive a guide referencing the Pennsylvania Stormwater Best Management Practices Manual tailored to the tour locations.  Educational tour videos will be posted on Facebook, YouTube and partner websites.  

            Partners include: Doylestown Township; Pennswood Village; Wells Appel, Planning, Landscape Architect, Urban Design; NAM Planning & Design LLC.

-- Clearfield County: Clearfield County Conservation District, $3,000: The partners will create and publicize an online interactive map at http://www.clearfieldcountywaters.com/ covering 102 river miles of the West Branch of the Susquehanna River, flowing through Clearfield County. The map will include photographs, water quality data with GPS points, fish populations, riverbank conditions, riparian zones, trails, launch sites and historic information.  Project partners also plan use the map to help promote regional tourism by helping people connect with the river, appreciate its resources, and learn how they can support and become involved in restoration activities from the legacy of water pollution created by Abandoned Mine Drainage (AMD).  The map will support efforts to demonstrate progressive recovery of the Susquehanna as the direct result of numerous successful restoration projects.  A bookmark and flyer will be developed to publicize the interactive map, with links from partner websites. 

            Partners include: Visit Clearfield County; Clearfield Borough; Curwensville Borough; Clearfield YMCA.

-- Crawford: Crawford County Conservation District, $5,000: Project partners will construct a demonstration rain garden as part of a streetscape project at a highly visible location in eastern Crawford County, along with an interpretive sign.  The rain garden will be used as the focal point of a “Conservation Landscaping/Stormwater Management “  workshop to be conducted by the conservation district.  An evaluation tool will be developed to measure increased knowledge among workshop attendees about stormwater management. 

            Partners include: Crawford County Planning Commission; City of Titusville, Titusville Redevelopment Authority.

-- Cumberland: Lower Allen Township, $2,000: The project partners will address stormwater management in the Yellow Breeches Watershed by conducting a rain garden workshop and demonstration during an annual “green thumbs” community event.   The project evaluation strategy will involve tracking the number of participants and follow-up calls received after the event and monitoring the effectiveness of the demonstration garden related to storm events.   Project partners will develop a tool to determine what aspects of the project participants found most valuable/interesting, what the attendees learned,  and assess attendees’ willingness to install a rain garden at their home or place of business.  

            Partners include: Yellow Breeches Watershed Association; Lower Allen Township Recreation & Parks Board; Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

-- Delaware: Garrett Hill Coalition, $4,100: The partners will demonstrate a range of practical solutions that can be implemented by the community and individuals to help improve water quality by reducing storm water impacts.  The project involves conducting two educational workshops about Valley Run and other local streams, where they flow and how they can be protected.  Workdays are planned to establish rain barrel and rain garden demonstration sites, install interpretive signs and conduct seasonal buffer zone and garden maintenance.  Evaluation strategies will involve tracking the number of workshop/workday attendees, the quantity of material and other information requested, and the number of website hits.  Pre and Post meeting questionnaires will be distributed during workshops.   The partners will also monitor the number of rain gardens, rain barrels, and other demonstration techniques being installed on community-owned and individual properties. 

            Partners include: Radnor Township; Garrett Hill Community Enhancement Trust; Memorial Library of Radnor Township; Villanova Urban Stormwater Partnership; Delaware Riverkeeper Network; Aqua Pennsylvania; Chanticleer, A Pleasure Garden; Bryn Mawr Boy Scout Troop #19.

-- Elk County: The Borough of Ridgeway, $3,000: The project will educate the community and municipal officials about issues facing the Big Millcreek Watershed and local water supply from acid rain deposition originating hundreds of miles away and runoff from transportation routes. Partners will form a public participation team to develop interpretive signage, create two newspaper articles, conduct an interactive tour of 2 of 4 passive acid rain deposition treatment basins, collect and analyze stream samples using water quality testers, and hold a ribbon cutting ceremony for the new permanent sign at Ridgeway Reservoir.  Project evaluation techniques will involve direct observation and interviews of municipal officials, county personnel, water system employees and the public.  

            Partners include: The Borough of Ridgway; Ridgway Township; Elk County Freshwater Association; Elk Conservation District; Elk County Planning Department.

-- Lackawanna, Wyoming and Susquehanna Counties: Keystone College, $5,000: The Keystone College Environmental Education Institute and partners will hold a regional stormwater workshop for community members and municipal officials to learn about the importance of managing stormwater to reduce nonpoint source pollution and prevent flooding in Lackawanna, Wyoming, and Susquehanna Counties.  The workshop will promote a range of solutions to stormwater challenges, from simple rain barrels and rain gardens, to more complex best management practices for homes, schools, and businesses.  Workshop participants will receive a rain barrel at a nominal fee, with instruction about how to paint rain barrels to become a decorative integral part of the landscape.   The project will also install several rain barrel demonstration areas on the college campus to promote usage. 

            Partners include: Aqua Pennsylvania; Penn State Cooperative Extension; Dalton Borough, Factoryville Borough, Abington Council of Governments; Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection; AfA - Artists for Art.

-- Luzerne County:  Greater Hazleton Area Civic Partnership, $3,900: The partners will install streamside buffer demonstration area and conduct drainage improvements along the Greater Hazleton Trail that leads to the Hazleton Area drinking water reservoir, an area hard hit by Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee in 2011.  The partners will also conduct a public education workshop about how communities can use native plants in buffers to help combat nonpoint source pollution, reduce flooding and anchor soil in place to prevent sedimentation and erosion.  Workshop attendees will receive instruction, educational booklets, take-home plants and other resources to encourage them to install buffers on their properties.  An interpretive sign depicting before and after conditions, explaining the demonstration area and the role of buffers will be created and installed at the buffer site. 

            Partners include: Center for Landscape Design & Stewardship; Hazleton City Authority; National Emergency Grant Workers; Hazelton City; Hazel Township; North Branch Land Trust.

-- Montgomery County:  PSR Philadelphia, $4,800: The project will reduce pharmaceutical pollution in the Norristown area to the Schuylkill watershed created by flushing unwanted, unused or expired pharmaceuticals.  Project partners will enlist the participation of one or two local, independent pharmacies within the Watershed to help distribute educational materials to elderly customers.  The target audience represents the largest percentage of prescription users, averaging 4 to 12 medications per day.  Posters, flyers, and Green sticker with program logo for prescription containers will be used to help promote proper disposal techniques.  Project evaluation will involve pre and post customer surveys.  

            Partners include: Borough of Norristown; PA American Water; Schuylkill Action Network; Philadelphia Water Department.

-- Montgomery County: Friends of High School Park, $5,000: Through a series of hands-on stormwater education workshops, township residents will learn about residential Best Management Practices (BMPs) that will minimize polluted runoff from their properties.  Four workshops will be held, Tree Benefits: Tree Planting and Care; Green Your Lawn: Organic Lawn Care; Living Streamside; and Rainbarrels and You: Save Money and Protect Streams.   Numerous evaluation strategies will be implemented including distribution of pledge forms, scheduling follow-up visits with participants, and sending e-mail questionnaires.  Success will also be measured through the number of workshop attendees, number of rainbarrels installed and number of trees planted. 
            Partners include: Tookany/Tacony-Frankford Watershed Partnership; Cheltenham Township; Cheltenham Township Environmental Advisory Council; Pennsylvania Horticultural Society.

            Three Source Water Protection (SWP) projects totaling $18,000 were awarded for education activities focusing on Source Water Protection. Funding for SWP education projects is provided by the  Department of Environmental Protection Source Water Protection Program through Section 1452 of the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1996, administered by U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. 

            The successful grantees of the 2012-2013 WREN SWP Grant Program are:

-- Blair, Centre, Clearfield Counties: Rush Township, $6,000: The Partners will form a regional Source Water Protection Collaborative and will seek participation of additional area water systems interested in working together to educate local officials, citizens and school children about ways to protect local drinking water sources from pollution and address the increasing level of gas well drilling in the region. The goal is to encourage action to protect drinking water supply areas in the Moshannon-Mosquito Creek and Clearfield Creek Watersheds of Clearfield and Centre Counties, assist contingency planning and improve emergency response to potential contamination events.   The coalition will create a Source Water Environmental Education Team (SWEET) that will conduct a series of public education and outreach events using visual models such as the groundwater model and source water area maps. To assist the coalition’s activities, project funds will be used to develop a Source Water Protection brochure that will be distributed during public education events, field days, workshops and school programs and posted to partner websites. The coalition will address improved emergency response coordination to potential contamination events.

            Partners include: Philipsburg Borough; DCNR- Black Moshannon State Park; Houtzdale Municipal Authority; Clearfield County Conservation District; Moshannon Creek Watershed Coalition;  Pennsylvania American Water; Centre County Conservation District; Oak Ridge Authority; Clearfield Planning and Community Development Office; BCI Municipal Authority; Chester Hill Borough.

-- Lehigh County: City of Allentown, $7,000: The City of Allentown and LCA will form a regional Source Water Protection Collaborative and will seek participation of additional area water systems interested in working together to educate local officials, citizens and school children about ways to protect local drinking water sources from pollution. The goal is to encourage action to protect drinking water supply areas in the Lehigh Valley from potential contaminants, such as from transportation corridors, agricultural, urban runoff and other risks identified in the Source Water Protection Plans.   The coalition will create a Source Water Environmental Education Team (SWEET) that will conduct a series of public education and outreach events.  A variety of community outreach events are planned that will feature visual models such as the groundwater model and source water area maps. To assist the coalition’s activities, project funds will be used to develop a Source Water Protection brochure that will be distributed during public education events, field days, workshops and school programs and posted to partner websites. The coalition will address improved emergency response coordination to potential contamination events. 
            Partners will purchase and install source water protection spill notification signs along key roadways.  Partners include: Lehigh County Authority.

-- Lancaster County: Terre Hill Borough, $5,000: The Partners will form a regional Source Water Protection Collaborative and will seek participation of additional area water systems in the coalition to work together to educate local officials, citizens and school children about ways to protect local drinking water sources from pollution. The goal is to encourage action to mitigate risks in Eastern Lancaster County from potential contaminants, such as from transportation corridors, agricultural urban runoff and other risks identified in the Source Water Protection Plans.   The coalition will create a Source Water Environmental Education Team (SWEET) that will conduct a series of public education and outreach events.  A variety of community outreach events are planned that will feature visual models such as the groundwater model and source water area maps. To assist the coalition’s activities, project funds will be used to develop a Source Water Protection brochure that will be distributed during public education events, field days, workshops and school programs. The partnership will develop a drinking water educational display, and address improved coordination of emergency response to potential contamination events. Partners will purchase and install source water protection spill notification signs along key roadways.  

            Partners include: Blue Ball Water Authority; Western Heights Water Authority; New Holland Borough; Earl and East Earl Townships.

            For more information, including more details and contacts for each project, download the project award list or contact Julie Kollar, WREN Project Director, 267-468-0555 or send email to: juliekwren@verizon.net.

5/21/2012

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