(New York, N.Y. – July 17, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is providing a $60,000 grant to NYC Parks for work that will improve water quality in parks along the Bronx and Harlem Rivers. 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 learn-img_1demonstrations that advance the restoration of urban watersheds, emphasizing underserved communities.

“Residents of New York City deserve clean and accessible urban rivers. The Bronx River and the Harlem River are real community assets,” said EPA Regional Administrator Judith A. Enck. “The EPA support will help educate young people and others about the ecological resources in these rivers though hands-on citizen science.”

NYC Parks will hire a Community Engagement Coordinator to create a volunteer monitoring program that engages local community groups and schools to collect important data on oyster reef restoration, alewife migration, and eel populations and to expand awareness on the importance of improving water quality. Monitoring program volunteers will be sought from the Bronx, where 30 percent of residents live below the sharenational poverty line. The project will help address water quality improvement, aquatic habitat restoration, and community engagement goals identified in multiple region-wide plans.

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.act

To view a list of the grant recipients, visit: http://www.epa.gov/urbanwaters/funding.

Information on the Urban Waters Federal Partnership: http://urbanwaters.gov/.