The PA League of Women Voters’ Water Resources Education Network Friday announced the award of $19,000 in grants to four community partnerships across the Commonwealth.
“These coalitions are a good example of civic-minded neighbors coming together to protect the safety of their drinking water now and for future generations,” said WREN Project Director Julie Kollar, in announcing the grant awards. “As we have learned from recent water contamination events in our country, it is essential that we do more to be proactive about water supply protection. Everyone has a role to play. This funding will allow project teams in four counties to educate residents and businesses about where local drinking water comes from and important voluntary steps that can help keep dangerous chemicals away from sources of drinking water.”
The grant recipients will carry out drinking water education projects between July 1, 2015 and June 30, 2016.
Funding will support two County Source Water Protection collaboratives, in Venango and Berks Counties; the Capital Region Water collaborative for drinking water protection for the City of Harrisburg; and Creswell Heights Joint Water Authority, Beaver County, that serves the boroughs of South Heights and Ambridge, and Hopewell Township and Crescent Township.
Each partnership will work to educate community stakeholders about ways to protect public drinking water sources from pollution and address improved emergency response coordination to potential contamination events.
The coalitions will form or build upon existing Source Water Environmental Education Teams (SWEETs) that will conduct public education and outreach events and undertake action to enhance water supply protection.
The four partnerships given grants are--
-- Berks County Water & Sewer Association/Center for Excellence in Local Government - Albright College for its project Expanding Source Water Protection for Berks County - $6,000.
Partners include the Berks County Planning Department; Muhlenberg Township Authority; Great Valley Consultants; Pennsylvania American Water Co.; Hamburg Authority; Western Berks Water Authority; Reading Area Water Authority; ARRO Consultants; Suburban Testing Lab; and McCarthy Engineering Assoc., Inc.
The goal of the Berks County Source Water Protection project is to educate the public, municipal officials and other key partners about the need to protect drinking water supplies, following the theme “Partnership: The Path to Clean Water.”
The clean drinking water message will be targeted to municipalities, schools and emergency responders in areas that do not already have a Source Water Protection plan.
Water suppliers from throughout Berks County will be recruited to participate in the collaborative program, to promote the idea of source water protection planning to neighboring municipalities and water providers.
The education and outreach program will begin with a kick-off event on July 29, 2015 at Albright College in Reading, followed by programs in schools in areas of the County that are under-represented by SWP plans.
Educational outreach will also include a Berks County Source Water Protection calendar and fact sheets distributed at municipal events and waste collections in the county.
Contact: Paul Janssen, Director, Center for Excellence in Local Government, Albright College, 610-921-7246 or send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
-- Capital Region Water in the Harrisburg Region for its project Harrisburg’s Drinking Water from Raindrop to Tap - $3,000.
Partners include the Clarks Creek Watershed Preservation Association; Doc Fritchey Chapter of Trout Unlimited; Dauphin County Conservation District; and Penn State Cooperative Extension - Dauphin County.
Capital Region Water will work with its partners to form a Source Water Environmental Education Team (SWEET) that will educate local officials, residents and businesses about the sources of Harrisburg’s drinking water, and ways to protect it, while instilling a sense of civic pride and responsibility.
The partners will conduct outreach to municipal officials and emergency responders in Rush Township and residents who receive their drinking water from the DeHart Reservoir.
The public outreach campaign will feature a new educational video, social media, and a direct mail piece that will be distributed in water bills to help Harrisburg’s water customers better understand their source of drinking water and actions needed to safeguard its purity.
Project partners plan to invite both upstream and downstream communities to participate in a community cleanup event.
Contact: Andrew Bliss, Community Outreach Manager, Capital Region Water, 717-525-7677 or send email to: email@example.com.
-- Creswell Heights Joint Authority in Beaver/Allegheny Counties for its project CHJA Source Water Protection Campaign - $3,000
Partners include South Heights Borough; Cub Scout Pack #405; and Hopewell Area School District.
The goal of the Creswell Heights Joint Authority’s campaign is to raise awareness of CHJA’S existing Source Water Protection program and ways community members can help. Project Partners will work to engage the community in drinking water protection efforts, focusing on specific everyday activities that can make a difference.
Project partners will conduct briefings for local public officials and emergency management personnel and create an educational display for community events.
A highlight of the project is a planned Storm Drain Stenciling Campaign, in partnership with Cub Scout Pack #405 in South Heights Borough, designed to draw attention to the dangers of dumping oil, pesticides and other toxic substances in stormwater drains that lead directly to waterways.
Door hangers will be distributed throughout the borough to help bring the clean drinking water message to residents. A Trout in the Classroom Program, which is already in place in the Hopewell Area School District, will be supported through the purchase of supplies needed to continue the program to help students connect with their watershed.
Brochures will be mailed to customers as part of the project’s public education campaign to inspire community awareness of potential dangers to local water sources.
Contact: Denise Kraus, Controller, Creswell Heights Joint Authority, call 724-375-1303 or send email to: DKraus@creswellwater.net.
-- Venango Conservation District for its project Source Water Protection for Venango County - $7,000
Partners include the Venango Conservation District; Venango County Planning Commission; Franklin Rotary Club; City of Oil City; UPMC Sugar Creek Station; Venango Water Company; Sugarcreek Water Company; and Cooperstown Water Company.
The Partners will form a Source Water Protection Collaborative to educate the residents of Venango County about source water protection and what residents can do to ensure clean water for future generations.
The Team will use a multi-faceted approach to reach out and educate county residents, with a focus on teaching students about source water protection through lessons developed for area middle- and high-school students, and hosting field trips for local schools to visit a water treatment facility.
Project Partners will work to raise awareness among municipal officials and others through participation at selected local events to target residents who use freshwater resources and underscore its importance to the county. Event participation will include appearances at local fishing tournaments and festivals.
Contact: Devin Lineman, Watershed Specialist, Venango Conservation District, call 814-676-2832 or send email to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
The source of funding for Source Water Protection Collaborative grants is the Department of Environmental Protection Source Water Protection Program through Section 1452 of the Safe Drinking Water Act Amendments of 1996, administered by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
WREN is a nonpartisan informal collaboration of organizations and public officials working for the protection and management of Pennsylvania’s water resources, through grass-roots education and informed policy-making.
WREN provides training and grants that support community coalitions raising public awareness of water resources. WREN projects empower communities to take action and implement public policies to protect Pennsylvania water resources.
The WREN Project supports two clean water initiatives: Watershed Education to prevent polluted runoff to waterways, and Source Water Protection Education to raise awareness about the importance of protecting public drinking water sources from contamination, including groundwater and surface water.For more information, visit the Water Resources Education Network website and Click Here to sign up for their monthly newsletter Water Policy News.