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EPA selects Elizabeth River for Urban Rivers Project

Release Date: 4/21/2003
Contact Information: Roy Seneca 215-814-5567

Contact: Roy Seneca (215) 814-5567
PHILADELPHIA – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has selected the Elizabeth River in Virginia as one of eight urban river restoration pilot projects nationwide that will be conducted in partnership with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

“Through this initiative, EPA and the Army Corps will work together to address issues that plague urban waterways like the Elizabeth River, including contaminated sediments, degraded water quality and lost habitat,” said Donald S. Welsh, regional administrator for EPA’s mid-Atlantic region. “We are excited to take this next step in our ongoing effort to return the Elizabeth River back to health for the affected communities.”

The Elizabeth River flows through Virginia and is contaminated with heavy metals and PCBs from military and industrial sources. It was selected for a pilot project because it already has support from a community watershed group, local businesses, and government agencies, who are all working together to prevent pollution, reduce toxins and nutrients from storm water runoff, and restore wildlife habitat.

As an urban river restoration pilots, the Elizabeth River will benefit from coordinated federal resources on cleanup and revitalization activities including project planning and design, environmental expertise, and outreach. As part of project, EPA will provide a $50,000 grant as seed money to kick-start cleanup and restoration activities that have been delayed due to lack of funding.

Among EPA’s efforts already underway along the Elizabeth River are Superfund cleanups, wetlands restorations, and financial support for community watershed activities.

The pilots are the result of a memorandum of understanding signed by the Department of the Army and EPA in which the two agencies agreed to designate eight pilot projects over the next year to coordinate the planning and execution of urban river cleanup and restoration. The other pilot project announced today is for the Anacostia River in the District of Columbia.