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EPA supports San Luis Valley (Colo.) partnership to reduce exposures from environmental pollutants
Release Date: 02/02/2011
Contact Information: Lisa McClain-Vanderpool, 303-312-6077; April Nowak, 303-312-6528
San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council receives $93,452 for community risk assessment and education in six-county area
(Denver, Colorado – February 2, 2011) In an award presentation today at Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded the San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC) a grant to empower the communities in Colorado’s San Luis Valley to reduce the impacts of toxic pollutants in the environment. The grant, awarded under EPA’s Community Action for Renewed Environment (CARE) program, will allow SLVEC to build partnerships throughout six San Luis Valley counties: Alamosa, Conejos, Costilla, Mineral, Rio Grande and Saguache. These partnerships will focus on assessing risks from environmental pollutants and reducing identified risks through education.
“ EPA’s CARE program sets a foundation for a renewed environment by helping create self-sustaining, community-based partnerships that improve human health”, said Mike Gaydosh, EPA’s director of enforcement and environmental justice in Denver. “The San Luis Valley Ecosystems Council has developed partnerships that will generate specific information about health risks in Valley communities that will ultimately inform efforts to reduce those risks.”
SLVEC will use the EPA grant to support the LEAP project, —or “Landscape Environmental Assessment Plan – Health Inspired Goals for Humans”-- to develop local community capacity to prioritize and address health risks. Specifically, SLVEC will build partnerships with local public health nurses and community leaders to assess the risks of exposure of contaminants from drinking water and indoor and outdoor air. The project will use this risk information to develop and deliver community education and outreach to populations in the San Luis Valley.
Christine Canaly, SLVEC director stated, “SLVEC’s goal is to help Valley residents identify and understand the relationship between environmental problems and health so they can make informed decisions about reducing exposures for themselves and their families. A long-range goal of the project is for individuals and businesses to implement best management practices, and to identify and minimize sources of environmental pollutants.”
The predominantly low-income and minority populations of the 8,100 square mile San Luis Valley are at risk of exposure to pollutants from various sources, including indoor environments, agricultural practices, naturally occurring concentrated heavy metals and past mining industry activities.
Community Action for a Renewed Environment (CARE) is a competitive grant program that offers an innovative way for a community to organize and take action to reduce toxic pollution in its local environment. Through CARE, communities create partnerships that implement solutions to reduce releases of toxic pollutants and minimize human exposure to them. After the CARE Level 1 grant is complete, SLVEC will be eligible to apply for a Level 2 grant that would provide additional funding up to $300,000 to aid in implementing solutions and reducing risks in the community.