Kansas: Wichita Initiative to Renew the Environment (A Former EPA CARE Project)
The summary below provides a description of a Wichita, Kansas project that received a cooperative agreement from EPA’s former Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) Program in 2008, and a CARE Level II Cooperative Agreement in 2010. This case study serves as a historic reference, and conditions since the project was funded may have changed.
The resources developed for this project provide communities with information about ways that other communities have addressed environmental issues. Communities can use these project results to reduce environmental impacts, understand risks and become stewards of their own environment.
The Wichita, Kansas Initiative to Renew the Environment (WKIRE) is the recipient of a Level I CARE cooperative agreement. The University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Preventive Medicine and Public Health is the lead administrator for this project. WKIRE will serve the Inner-city Corridor of Wichita, where the population is just under 200,000. This area is a predominately low- to middle- income area of the city and is home to most of the minority population of Wichita. The WKIRE project will create and sustain collaborative partnerships dedicated to understanding, informing the community about, and prioritizing toxic risks and environmental pollutants. The inner-city corridor contains high levels of toxics and environmental pollutants from ground- and surface- water contamination due to industrial solvents, heavy farming and runoff. In addition, there are numerous closed dumps and landfills where trash has been pushed into sandpits, ponds, and low areas along the rivers, and trash is scattered throughout the WKIRE project area.
Prospective CARE Partners: Wichita Independent Neighborhood (WIN) Association, Riverside Citizens Association, Sleepy Hollow Neighborhood Association, El Pueblo Neighborhood Association, Orchard Park Neighborhood Association, Fabrique Neighborhood Association, Visioneering Wichita, 21st Street Business Association, ISI Environmental, Boeing, Cessna Textron, Hawker Beechcraft, Spirit, City Manager’s Office, City of Wichita, City of Wichita Environmental Services, Mayor of Wichita, Wichita City Council, and the Sedgwick County Health Department.
Wichita Initiative to Renew the Environment (WIRE) is a recipient of a CARE Level II Cooperative agreement. The University of Kansas School of Medicine-Wichita Department of Preventative Medicine and Public Health in partnership with the Environmental Leadership Council will be the organizations leading this project. This Level II project will build on the current Level I CARE project. WIRE will be a community collaborative project to sustain collaborative partnerships dedicated to understanding, educating and reducing toxic risks and environmental pollutants that impact inner city Wichita. Through WIRE’s CARE Level I project they were able to organize, prioritize and identify three top concerns: 1) mobile source air emissions, and; 2) pollution in the Arkansas River, and poor waste management. Through this Level II agreement, WIRE will reduce the risk of mobile air emissions, reduce the risk of storm water run-off in the Little and Big Arkansas River, reduce the risk of solid waste pollution/greenhouse gas emissions, and develop the capacity of the Environmental Leadership Council to ensure they are self sustaining. WIRE will also identify and implement culturally appropriate communication strategies for reaching the inner-city target population to provide education opportunities to internal and external partners, the media and the community at large, develop idling-reduction guidelines, implement idling-reduction strategies, and recruit and educate businesses to reduce waste and prevent pollution via the WasteWise program.
Established CARE Partners: City Manager’s Air Quality Improvement Task Force, Kansas Department of Health and Environment, Chamber of Commerce’s Visioneering Wichita-Sustainability Coalition, Parent Teacher Association, Visioneering Wichita Health Alliance, Wichita Mayor’s Youth Council, Watershed Restoration and Protection Strategy, Arkansas River Coalition, North High School, Wichita Park Department, Public Works, Wichita Botanical Gardens and Arboretum.