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Water: Watersheds

Watershed News October 2012

Watershed News Index

Watershed News is a publication of EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds. It is designed to provide timely information to groups working at the watershed level.

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In this month's newsletter:

  1. Building Block for Sustainable Communities
  2. EPA Environmental Education Regional Grants
  3. New App Lets Users Check Health of Waterways Anywhere in the U.S.
  4. "Nabbing Nitrates" Video Series Showcases Conservation Practices
  5. Watershed Academy Webcast on "Using the New Water Quality Portal"
  6. New Clean Water Act Section 319 Success Story Posted

Funding/Technical Assistance 

Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities

Many communities around the country are asking for tools to help them achieve their desired development goals, improve quality of life, and become more economically and environmentally sustainable. In response to this demand, EPA developed the Building Blocks for Sustainable Communities Program. This program provides quick, targeted technical assistance to selected local and/or tribal governments using a variety of tools that have demonstrated results and widespread application. The purpose of delivering these tools is to stimulate a discussion about growth and development and strengthen local capacity to implement sustainable approaches. In 2013, EPA will select up to 44 communities for assistance. Each technical assistance project in a community will include:

  • Public engagement, a one-day workshop that is open to the public.
  • Direct consultation with relevant decision-makers.
  • A memo outlining specific steps the community could take to implement the ideas generated during the site visit.

Technical assistance will be delivered by EPA staff. In addition, four nonprofit organizations with extensive expertise in sustainable communities will select up to 55 additional communities for assistance. These organizations-Forterra, Global Green USA, Project for Public Spaces, and Smart Growth America-have received grants from EPA to offer assistance using tools they have chosen. Each organization has its own deadline and application process and offers a different set of tools. Please see Assistance from EPA and Assistance from Grantees for further information and deadlines for applications.

EPA Environmental Education Regional Grants

EPA is seeking grant proposals from eligible applicants to support environmental education projects that promote environmental stewardship and help develop knowledgeable and responsible students, teachers, and citizens. This grant program provides financial support for projects that design, demonstrate, and/or disseminate environmental education practices, methods, or techniques, and that will serve as models that can be replicated in a variety of settings. EPA expects to award environmental education grants from the 10 EPA Regional offices. Grantees that receive awards under this solicitation must establish methods to document and report measurable results from grant projects. To ensure that grant proposals are competitive, applicants should carefully read Sections IV and V regarding how to structure a proposal and what criteria will be used to evaluate proposals. EPA receives a large number of grant applications under this program and can fund just a small percentage of those applications received. Applicants must demonstrate that their proposal is for a project for which they (the applicant) have not been previously awarded a grant by EPA’s EE program; or the applicant must demonstrate that they are expanding, broadening or otherwise enhancing a project previously funded by EPA’s EE Grant Program in such a way that it could serve as a replicable model of environmental education practices, methods, or techniques. In addition, EPA encourages applications for funding of projects that provide a variety and range of educational and environmental priorities, geographic areas, and audiences as compared to the pool of previously funded projects in each Region. Go to the EPA websitewww.epa.gov/education/grants/index.html#grants=4 to see the list and descriptions of proposals previously funded by this program.

Cost Sharing Requirement: Applicants must demonstrate how they will provide non-federal matching funds of at least 25% of the total cost of the project. Applications must be postmarked by November 21, 2012, 11:59 pm local time or submitted electronically via www.grants.gov by November 21, 2012, 11:59 pm Eastern Standard Time (EST) in order to be considered for funding.

In The News

New App lets Users Check the Health of Waterways Anywhere in the United States

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Last week, the Office of Water launched a new app and website to help people find information on the condition of thousands of lakes, rivers and streams across the United States from their smart phone, tablet or desktop computer. The How's My Waterway app and website uses GPS technology or a user-entered zip code or city name to provide information about the quality of local water bodies. The release of the app and website helped mark the 40th anniversary of the Clean Water Act, which Congress enacted on October 18, 1972, giving citizens a special role in caring for the nation's water resources. Forty years later, EPA is providing citizens with a technology-based tool to expand that stewardship. Be sure to check out the Greenversations Blog post by Doug Norton. For more information on the Clean Water Act, the nation's law for protecting our most irreplaceable resource, visit Clean Water Act 40th Anniversary

"Nabbing Nitrates" Video Series Showcases Conservation Practices

The Soil and Water Conservation Society (SWCS) and the Iowa Chapter of SWCS are among 14 cosponsors of a new video series that shows how conservation practices remove nitrates from water. Missouri & Mississippi Divide Resource Conservation & Development Inc. (M&M Divide), based in west central Iowa, produced the four new water conservation videos in a series titled Nabbing Nitrates-Before Water Leaves the Farm. In both English and Spanish, the series includes animation that shows what happens in wetlands and below the ground in four conservation practices that remove nitrates from surface and groundwater: "Water Conservation Drainage," "Riparian Forest Buffers," "Working Wetlands," and "Bioreactors." The series was produced with a Conservation Innovation Grant awarded by the USDA Natural Resource Conservation Services (NRSC). The objective of the series is to educate landowners and producers of practices that can assist in solving the nutrient water quality issues in the Iowa Mississippi River Basin Initiative (MRBI) target watersheds.Check out the video series! epafiles_misc_exitepadisc

Watershed Academy Webcast on "Using the New Water Quality Portal"

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There is still time to register for the October 23 (1:00 - 3:00 p.m. ET) Watershed Academy Webcast for water quality managers and others to learn more about the new Water Quality Portal (Portal) for water quality data – a team effort by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Geological Survey, and the National Water Quality Monitoring Council (NWQMC). The Portal brings together chemical, physical and microbiological data from EPA’s Storage and Retrieval Data Warehouse (STORET) and USGS’s National Water Information System (NWIS) and provides it to scientists, policy-makers, and the public in a single, user-friendly web interface. The Portal reduces the burden to data users of searching, compiling, and formatting water monitoring data for analysis. This Webinar will also highlight EPA’s Water Quality Exchange (WQX-Web) which is a web-based data entry tool that enables data owners to upload their data so the public has access to the data through the new Water Quality Portal.  This webinar will include both informational presentations and a demonstration of the Portal in action. Users can access the Portal at www.waterqualitydata.us.

Webcast participants are eligible to receive a certificate for their attendance.  Register for this free webinar at: Watershed Academy Webcast Seminars

Success Spotlight: Turkey Creek, Oklahoma

EPA's Clean Water Act Section 319 Program provides funding for restoration of nonpoint source-impaired water bodies. This month’s success spotlight shines on Turkey Creek, Oklahoma. Turkey Creek flows through cattle and wheat production land. Poor management of grazing lands and cropland contributed to excess sedimentation and nutrient runoff in the watershed leading to low dissolved oxygen levels in the creek. As a result, Oklahoma placed the creek on the state's list of impaired waters in 2004. Agricultural practices, such as no-till and conservation crop rotations that helped to retain soil moisture and reduce soil erosion, improved the quality of grazing lands and cropland, thereby decreasing sediment and nutrient runoff into the creek. Water quality improved, prompting Oklahoma to remove Turkey Creek from the state's 2010 list for dissolved oxygen impairment. Turkey Creek now fully supports its fish and wildlife propagation designated use. Visit the Success Spotlight site for more information.


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