US EPA - Environmental Protection Agency

Grants for $1.75 Million Awarded to Improve Public Health in New England Communities

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BOSTON -- EPA’s New England office is awarding 21 grants across New England to fund community projects addressing environmental and public health issues. The projects, funded under the 2015 Healthy Communities Grant Program for a total of $1,754,157, will reduce environmental risks, protect and improve human health, and improve the quality of life for communities and residents in communities in all six New England states.

The Healthy Communities Grant Program combines resources from several EPA programs to strategically address the environmental and public health issues burdening New England communities. The program has competitively selected projects that will: assess, understand, and reduce environmental and human health risks; increase collaboration through community-based projects; build institutional and community capacity to understand and solve environmental and human health problems; advance emergency preparedness and resilience; and achieve measurable environmental and human health benefits in communities across New England. Contributing EPA New England program areas include: Southeast New England Program for Coastal Watershed Restoration; Air Quality Outreach; Assistance & Pollution Prevention; Asthma; Children’s Environmental Health; Clean, Green and Healthy Schools Initiative; Toxics; Urban Environmental Program; and Water Infrastructure (Stormwater, Wastewater, and Drinking Water).

The projects that have been awarded funding: (1) are located in/or directly benefiting one or more of the EPA’s identified Target Investment Areas; and (2) identify how the proposed project will achieve measurable environmental and/or public health results in one or more of the EPA’s identified Target Program Areas. In 2015, the Target Investment Areas included: Areas at Risk from Climate Change Impacts, Environmental Justice Areas of Potential Concern, Sensitive Populations, and/or Southeast New England Coastal Watersheds. Target Program Areas included: Capacity-Building on Environmental and Public Health Issues; Clean, Green and Healthy Schools; Community and Water Infrastructure Resilience; Healthy Indoor Environments; Healthy Outdoor Environments; and Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration.

The grants were awarded to the following recipients:

CONNECTICUT

Sustainable America was awarded $25,000 for their “Implementing the Food Too Good to Waste” project. This initiative will recruit households from faith-based congregations in the Greater Bridgeport and Stamford areas to implement a Food Too Good to Waste (FTGTW) challenge. The FTGTW Toolkit will be modified for the target audience and Sustainable America will host meetings for leadership from participating congregations, implementing a six week challenge and instructing them how to bring the challenge back to their congregations. The goal of the project is to raise awareness about food waste, reduce household level food waste and ultimately reduce the amount of food waste that is incinerated or landfilled. Project partners include Interfaith Council of Southwest Conn. and Fairfield County Interfaith Alliance on Climate Change.

MAINE

Greater Portland Council of Governments was awarded $25,000 for their “Saco River Drinking Water Resiliency Planning” project. The project will analyze the flood vulnerability of hazards to water quality and projections of future drinking water needs for the fifteen municipalities that depend on the Saco River for drinking water. The project goal is to create strategies for mitigating, reducing, and removing water quality hazards such as fuel storage, septic fields, and agriculture sites for local municipalities. Project partners include: Saco River Corridor Commission; Maine Water Company; Maine Office of Federal Homeland Security; City of Saco.

MASSACHUSETTS

Barnstable County was awarded $66,468 for their “Stormwater Treatment Systems” project. The project will compare the effectiveness of nitrogen removal in rain gardens and conventional stormwater systems on Cape Cod parcels that each contain both systems. Efficiency of the two systems will be compared in terms of cost vs. performance for nitrogen removal. The results from sampling will be compiled into a report and shared with stormwater managers and other coastal resource decision makers in neighboring towns. Project partners include: Woods Hole Sea Grant; Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution; Towns of Bourne, Dennis, and Mashpee; Dr. Heidi Clark.

Buzzards Bay Action Committee was awarded $200,000 for their “Buzzards Bay Stormwater Collaborative” project. The project will develop a collaborative framework for municipalities to share resources on universal issues such as stormwater. The partners will use their expertise to identify problem stormwater discharges, test discharges, and map stormwater networks in the local target area. A cross-municipal public education program will be implemented in participating towns. Project partners include: Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program; Towns of Dartmouth, Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Wareham, Acushnet; Mass. Coastal Zone Management; Buzzards Bay Coalition.

Buzzards Bay Coalition was awarded $100,000 for their “Sustaining the Baywaters Monitoring Program” project. The project will increase the number of water quality sampling stations in Buzzards Bay during the winter. Project partners include the Marine Biological Laboratory Ecosystems Center.

Centro de Apoyo Familiar was awarded $25,000 for their “Healthy Families: Healthy Homes” project. The project will provide outreach and education to families and residents in Lawrence, Mass. with the goal of reducing the use of toxic chemicals in the home environment and reducing childhood exposure to harmful chemicals, asthma triggers, lead poisoning, and mercury. Project partners include: Manos Que Ayudan (Helping Hands); Iglesia Cristiana Ebenezer; Iglesia De Dios de la Profecia; Centro de adoracion Jesucristo es el Senor; Centro cristiano Camino de la Salvación; Iglesia Asambleas de Dios; Christ United Methodist Church.

Charles River Watershed Association was awarded $25,000 for their “Soaking up the Rain in Franklin, Mass.” project. The project will extend its residential rain garden installation and tracking program with the Town of Franklin to increase the capacity to mitigate flooding and associated local water quality impacts from large storm events. The project will increase the number of rain gardens in Franklin, educating residents on non-point source pollution problems and solutions and maintaining an up-to-date inventory on local stormwater projects. Project partners include: Town of Franklin Department of Public Works.

Groundwork Lawrence was awarded $25,000 for their “Climate Change Mitigation & Stormwater Education” project. The project will educate residents in Lawrence, Mass. about climate change, its potential impact on Lawrence neighborhoods, and climate mitigation options including the benefits of urban canopy and permeable surfaces; and the damaging effects of cooking oil disposal on the city's waste water infrastructure and river health. Forty trees will be planted in the 100/500 year flood zone to absorb storm water and help mitigate anticipated increased flooding due to climate change. Project partners include: City of Lawrence DPW; Lawrence Community Works; Merrimack Valley Workforce Investment Board.

Health Resources in Action was awarded $25,000 for their “Environmental Health in Early Education: Expanding E-Learning Opportunities” project. The project will adapt Boston Healthy Homes and Schools Collaborative's Healthy Homes for Family Child Care in-person training into an online module. The on-line educational training will be promoted statewide to alleviate the burden of asthma by increasing the capacity of Family Childcare Educators in targeted areas of Massachusetts (Boston, Lawrence, etc.) to create healthy indoor environments. Project partners include: Centro de Apoyo Familiar; Department of Early Education and Care; Mass. Asthma Action Partnership.

Health Resources in Action was awarded $25,000 for their “Moving Asthma Care Upstream” project. The project will educate accountable care organizations and/or provider groups about the benefits of asthma home based interventions. Activities include coordinating with the six New England state asthma programs; maintaining and promoting asthma website to disseminate tools, information and best practices around asthma home visiting and sustainable financing; and participating on leadership teams of national coalitions working on financing issues to support reimbursement for asthma interventions. Project partners include: Boston Children’s Hospital; Boston Medical Center; St. Joseph’s Health Center; Hasbro Children’s Hospital; Rutland Regional Medical Center; Middlesex Hospital; Children’s Medical Group; Pioneer Valley Asthma Coalition; State Asthma Programs of Conn., Mass., N.H., and R.I.

Martha’s Vineyard Shellfish Group was awarded $135,693 for their “Annual Harvest of the Invasive Reed, Phragmites australis” project. The project will develop a better understanding of the nitrogen bioremediation potential of Phragmites. Activities include providing an outline of the regulatory process governing harvests; demonstrating the potential uses of harvested reeds that may help to finance the harvests, documenting nitrogen reduction, and educating and involving the local stakeholders and planners on the concept. Project partners include: Jamie Vaudrey, PhD. Assistant Research Professor, Dept. of Marine Sciences, University of Connecticut; Mermaid Farm, Chillmark, Mass.; WorldStove, LLC; Martha’s Vineyard Commission; Town of Oak Bluff’s Conservation Commission; Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation.

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe was awarded $198,174 for their “Popponesset Bay Coastal Resilience & Habitat Restoration” project. The project will create an aquatic oyster reef to benefit water quality in Popponesset Bay with the introduction of large numbers of filter feeders that remove microscopic particles (phytoplankton, etc.) from the water, improving turbidity, light penetration, and overall water quality. The creation of this oyster reef covering 4 acres will ensure a sustainable reef system to buffer the shorelines from future storm events, improve water quality through the introduction of large numbers of bivalves and habitat diversity, providing shelter and food sources for people and juvenile marine species. Project partners include: Town of Mashpee (Shellfish Constable/Marine Biologist Richard York).

Massachusetts Coalition for Safety & Health has been awarded $25,000 for their “Asthma Prevention through Peer Leadership & Engagement in Schools” project. The project will engage champions, student peer leaders and adults to take actions to improve environmental conditions and asthma management in Boston and Lynn schools. Results and lessons will be magnified by promoting implementation of healthy schools policies and practices across Mass. in three at-risk communities with high asthma rates. Project partners include: Boston Healthy Homes and Schools Collaborative; Boston Healthy Schools Taskforce; Girls Inc.; Boston Public Schools; Boston Public Health Commission; Boston Teachers’ Union; Custodial Union (Local 1952).

Southeastern Regional Planning & Economic Development District has been awarded $170,000 for their “Regional Planning & Training on Municipal Tools for a Resilient Taunton Watershed” project. The project will train municipal officials using new tools and information that will improve their capacity to facilitate broad implementation of green infrastructure and low impact development approaches. Project partners include: Metropolitan Area Planning Council; Manomet Center for Conservation Sciences; Mass Audubon; The Nature Conservancy.

The Nature Conservancy has been awarded $199,664 for their “208 Plan Watershed Planning & Technology Transfer” project. The project will transfer the technologies and planning approaches developed as part of the Cape 208 Plan to a broader audience to urge nitrogen reduction. The project will build collaboration and partnerships throughout the region bringing together representatives, nonprofits, and other stakeholders at a water quality summit to discuss the most up-to-date information about technology, pilot projects, and monitoring results. Project partners include: Cape Cod Commission; Horsley Witten Group.

NEW HAMPSHIRE

Keene State Collage has been awarded $25,000 for their “Wood Smoke Community Awareness Initiative.” The project will increase collaboration and capacity building through community based initiatives combining education and community outreach to better understand the linkages between wood stoves, PM2.5 and respiratory health in the town of Keene, NH. Project partners include: Keene High School; Southwest Region Planning Commission; and NH Department of Environmental Services.

Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Regional Planning Commission was awarded $25,000 for their “Safe Schools in the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Region” project. The project will improve the health and safety in at least ten local schools in the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee Region in western and central New Hampshire through proper inventory and reduction of toxic chemicals and source reduction. Project activities include coordinating on-site visits at local schools to review science laboratories, art studios and janitorial practices/supplies to reduce the amount of hazardous/toxic chemicals on site and replace with less toxic alternatives. Project partners include: NH Department of Environmental Services, Pollution Prevention Section; NH Department of Education; Waddell Environmental.

RHODE ISLAND

Childhood Lead Action Project was awarded $9,370 for their “Community Lead Poisoning Prevention Initiative” project. The project will provide education, outreach, and collaboration within the communities of East Providence and Pawtucket, RI with the goals of reducing the incidences of lead poisoning; increasing public lead safety knowledge and expertise of those performing renovation or repair on residences; increasing the understanding of Rhode Island's lead law at the city level; and building the capacity of low-income, minority, and tribal populations to reduce their exposure to toxins. Project partners include: Blackstone Valley Community Action Program; City of East Providence; City of Pawtucket; East Bay Community Action Program; Rhode Island Medical-Legal Partnership.

Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management was awarded $200,000 for their “Strengthening Regional Partnerships” project. The project will build the capacity to analyze changing conditions in Narragansett Bay and its watershed associated with climate change and nutrient pollution control. The project will organize project partners to begin the process of understanding the ecological response to such changes and improve local environmental conditions. Project partners include: University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute (URI-CI); Narragansett Bay Estuary Program; Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection; Rhode Island Environmental Monitoring Collaborative; Watershed Counts.

Rhode Island Department of Health was awarded $200,000 for their 'Building Large-Scale Regional Capacity for the Rapid Detection of Bacterial Contamination' project. The project will support the Rhode Island Department of Health's BEACH program to compare the results of its traditional water testing method (IDEXX Enterolert) to the EPA’s method 1609 (Rapid qPCR), which allows for same-day notifications of bacterial exceedances. This project could potentially lower the number of beach closures per year. Staff will be trained in the method and the RI lab will become the first New England-certified laboratory to use the rapid methods for water testing and notification. Project partners include: Clean Ocean Access; Save the Bay; Town of Bristol, RI; City of Newport, RI.

Third Sector New England was awarded $24,788 for their “The Food: Too Good to Waste Ambassador Program.” The project will support to the Rhode Island Food Council in order to expand the Too Good to Waste pilot program to low-income households across Rhode Island. Using a train-the-trainer model, an ambassador program will teach households how to reduce the amount of food that goes to waste in their homes in order reduce the amount of food waste going to landfills (which produces methane, a greenhouse gas) while also saving food insecure households money by preventing edible food from going to waste. Project partners include: African Alliance of Rhode Island; Pawtucket Housing Authority; Providence Housing Authority; Newport Housing Authority; Rhode Island Community Food Bank.

More information on the Healthy Communities Grant Program http://www.epa.gov/region1/eco/uep/hcgp.html

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