Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Los Angeles River Chosen for New Urban Waters Federal Partnership

The Los Angeles River has been chosen as one of seven river watersheds nationwide to participate in the new pilot program of the Urban Waters Federal Partnership. This pilot program aims to revitalize growing American cities and the natural resources that surround them.

This new national partnership aligns the programmatic goals of the White House's Great Outdoors Initiative and the Partnership for Sustainable Communities to link economic revitalization with environmental sustainability.

Designed to break down federal government agency 'silos,' while promoting collaboration among federal, state, local agencies and non-profit and community-based environmental organizations, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership selected the Los Angeles River Watershed in part because more than 70% of its residents live more than a quarter mile from a park or open space, resulting in a lack of access to such environmental resources as clean air and potable water. The LA River was also cited for its success record in current federal colloboration efforts along the river corridor, especially in working with disadvantaged communities.

The focus of this new partnership is on revitalizing local watershed efforts, including enhancing flood control, improving water quality through green infrastructure, enabling safe public river access, and restoring ecosystems.

Examples of ongoing work where local communities in the Los Angeles River Watershed are engaged in partnerships with federal agencies are the: Station Fire Restoration, Los Angeles River Ecosystem Restoration, South Los Angeles Wetlands Park, Hansen Dam Wetlands/Stormwater Treament/Park Expansion Project, the Elmer Street Neighborhood Retrofit, and Disadvantaged Community Outreach Education Program.

The Partnership's immediate focus is on facilitating more economic development, especially in the Clean Tech Corridor; more recreational river access opportunities; more outdoor education in partnership with the LA Unified School District; and enhanced focus on conservation of the region's scarce water supply.

Spearheaded by leadership from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), participating federal agencies include the US Department of Agriculture (USDA); Department of the Army - Army Corps of Engineers (USACE); US Department of Commerce - Economic Development Administration (EDA); US Department of Commerce - National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA); Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS); US Department of Health and Human Services - US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP); US Department of Health and Human Services - National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS); US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD); US Department of the Interior (DOI); and US Department of Transportation (DOT).

The six other American river watersheds selected for this federal pilot program include: Anacostia Watershed, District of Columbia/Maryland; Patapsco Watershed, Baltimore Region, Maryland; Bronx & Harlem River Watersheds, New York; South Platte River, Denver, Colorado; Lake Ponchartrain Area, New Orleans, Louisiana; and the Northwest Indiana Urban Corridor along the Lake Michigan Shoreline.

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