Toledo and Lake Erie Western Basin Will Be Added To Urban Waters Federal Partnership

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Toledo is one of 10 communities that will be added to a major federal initiative aimed at revitalizing urban waterways, Congresswoman Marcy Kaptur announced today.

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Acting Administrator Bob Persiacepe will make the official announcement tomorrow afternoon at the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

“Including Toledo in the Urban Waters Federal Partnership program is a big step forward for us,” said Congresswoman Kaptur. “We worked hard to get our region included in this initiative because a healthy Lake Erie is vitally important to a healthy local economy.”

Kaptur said the Urban Waters Federal Partnership “dovetails perfectly” with the Western Lake Erie Basin Partnership concept that she promoted in 2005 to encourage cooperation between various entities in the watershed, including federal, state and local governments.

 “We have the structure in place. Now we will have everybody at the table, working together to save Lake Erie,” she said.
Kaptur said the EPA will be the leady agency in a partnership that involves more than a dozen federal agencies, including the departments of Interior, Transportation, and Housing and Urban Development.

Launched in 2011 in seven communities, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership coordinates federal efforts to improve the waterways such as the Western Basin in urban communities such as Toledo.  The partnership also supports President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative aimed at making the federal government a better partner with communities that are working to provide safe, healthy and accessible outdoor spaces. 

Two agencies have been added to the partnership as well: the Department of Education, which will connect school groups with their local waterways and prepare students for careers in science, and the Department of Energy, which will help communities accelerate the adoption of clean energy technologies.

Also participating: the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers; the Economic Development Administration; the U.S. Forest Service; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; the National Institute for Environmental Health Sciences; and, the National Center for Environmental Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The heads of several federal agencies outlined the vision of the collaborative initiative.

“Since we launched the Urban Waters Federal Partnership two years ago, we’ve seen firsthand what the transformation of degraded urban waterways into clean, healthy and treasured centerpieces can do for local communities – not only from an aesthetic standpoint, but also from a public health and economic standpoint,” said Acting Administrator Perciasepe. “Restored urban waters can reinvigorate communities, and I am confident the new project locations will see the same success the Partnership’s efforts have already supported across the country.”

“Our waterways should be assets that communities can access and enjoy, especially in urban areas, where so many Americans live and work,” said Nancy Sutley, Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality.  “Through this innovative partnership, federal agencies are working together to focus their resources and expertise on revitalizing urban waterways and promoting the health and economies of surrounding communities.”

“Restoring urban waterways not only helps protect our water quality, urban parks and wildlife refuges, but also provides increased recreational opportunities that benefit residents and local economies,” said Deputy Secretary of the Interior David J. Hayes. 

“Restoring these waterways is not only important for improving the water that we all depend on, but for spurring economic growth and creating recreational opportunities in these communities as well,”  said Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack. “USDA has contributed $1.2 million in financial assistance to support these projects to date, and we will continue providing expert staff and technical assistance to help revitalize water in communities throughout the country.”

"The protection and revitalization of rivers and watersheds in urban areas not only demonstrates this administration's commitment to improving public health and restoring natural resources in urban communities, but also helps beautify and increase property values in neighborhoods that are being developed or revitalized close to urban rivers," said HUD Deputy Secretary, Maurice Jones.

These projects will further the goals of the partnership and address a wide range of issues such as improving water quality, restoring ecosystems and enhancing public access to urban waters. A progress report also released today details the successes and plans for future actions at each program location, as well as actions taken by each of the federal partners.

Americans use urban waterways as sources of drinking water and for a variety of activities including boating, fishing and swimming.

Revitalizing these urban waterways will reconnect citizens to open spaces, and have a positive economic impact on local businesses, tourism and property values, as well as spur private investment and job creation in communities.

The Urban Waters Federal Partnership was launched two years ago with pilot projects in New York, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Denver, New Orleans and Northwest Indiana.

The 10 new project locations: Big River and Meramec River watersheds near St. Louis, Missouri; Delaware River Basin; Grand River (Michigan); Green-Duwamish, Washington State; Mystic River, Massachusetts; Martin Pena Canal, San Juan, Puerto Rico; Middle Blue River, Missouri; Middle Rio Grande, New Mexico; Passaic River, New Jersey; and Proctor Creek, Georgia.

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For more information: http://www.urbanwaters.gov