Monday, January 29, 2018

DEP Blog: Ambler: A Small Borough Thinking Big On Stormwater With Growing Greener Grant

Gov. Wolf recently awarded $20.7 million in Growing Greener grants to 106 community projects to clean up waters around Pennsylvania.
These local-partner projects, tackling everything from neighborhood creeks to entire watersheds, are essential to reducing pollutants such as acid mine drainage, nutrients, and sediment in Pennsylvania’s water.
Since its launch in 1999, the Growing Greener Grant Program has provided more than $296 million to environmental projects statewide. This thank-you note we received from recent awardee Ambler Borough shows how these grants enable communities to improve their environment. We couldn’t say it any better.
On behalf of the members of the Ambler Borough Environmental Advisory Council (EAC), I want to thank you, Governor Wolf and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, for awarding Ambler Borough a Growing Greener grant to install stormwater management measures.
With the grant funding, we’ll engage the Ambler community to put in place 250 rain barrels, 250 downspout planters, 75 rain gardens, 2,000 feet of riparian buffer restoration, and steep slope terracing at Edgewood Preserves to improve our waterways.
Just as important, you’ve given us the opportunity to show that even small communities can create environmental stewardship to support clean waterways!
We call our project Growing Ambler Greener. It came about when we noticed how neighboring Philadelphia was putting in place green infrastructure to reduce stormwater runoff pollution and grow environmental stewardship in communities.
We, too, were working on stormwater management issues in Ambler. We developed a vision for a program similar to the Philadelphia Water Department’s Rain Check Program.
The key to making any vision a reality is, of course, funding. We’d never written a grant application, but as luck would have it, in December 2016 I got an email about a Growing Greener grant application workshop being offered by the DEP Southeast Regional Office. Grant applications had to be postmarked January 13, 2017.
The EAC went into action. We followed the DEP’s well-laid-out, step-by-step "how to,” and wrote the grant application. We managed to secure over 50 homeowners’ signatures and the support of Ambler Borough. With great hopes of implementing our vision, we mailed the application at the post office at 4:15 pm on January 13.
As we waited to learn whether we would be awarded a grant, we kept busy. We furthered our stormwater knowledge by attending workshops and making connections. We evolved new programs, including Ambler TreeVitalize and Stewardship Saturday in Ambler Borough Park. We grew our outreach through social media.
As the end of 2017 neared without word, we appealed for funding to Ambler Borough Council during their November budget meetings. They gave us funding for five raingardens. We were thrilled to grow our budget from $2,600 to $6,100.
And then on December 11, I got an email from a friend, congratulating the EAC on getting the Growing Ambler Greener Grant. I thought she was mistaken and didn't quite understand until I looked it up myself. And I soon got word from DEP: We were awarded $206,000.
Woot woot! It was such a thrill, much like giving birth and finding out if it is a boy or a girl! I was excited to deliver the news to our hardworking team. Hip hip hooray!
We at the Ambler EAC are ecstatic. We’re working hard to make our Growing Ambler Greener vision a reality. We look forward to demonstrating that even a small group such as an EAC, working with their municipality, can succeed at creating a better, more sustainable environment in their community.
Thank you!
Mary-Margaret Monser and the Ambler EAC Team
For more information on watershed grants, visit the DEP Growing Greener Grant Program webpage.

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