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EPA provides $50K to help Urban Land Conservancy improve water quality at Denver transit-oriented development

Release Date: 07/19/2012
Contact Information: EPA: Richard Mylott (303)312-6654; Stacey Eriksen (303)312-6692; Urban Land Conservancy: Christi Longsdorf (303)377-4477

Design features to reduce polluted runoff at Blake Street redevelopment part of $950,000 nationally to advance “green infrastructure”

(Denver, Colo., July 19, 2012) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is providing $50,000 in technical assistance to develop innovative green infrastructure options for a new transit-oriented housing development near the Blake/38th commuter-rail station in downtown Denver. The Urban Land Conservancy will use the EPA resources to assess and integrate design features that will reduce polluted runoff and protect water quality. Today’s announcement is part of $950,000 EPA is providing for projects across the country to improve water quality through green infrastructure.

“Polluted runoff is a significant source of water quality impairment in the Denver area,” said Stacey Eriksen, EPA’s Urban Watershed Coordinator. “EPA expects this project will help demonstrate that there are practical, cost-effective ways to reduce the amount of pollution entering storm drains and the South Platte River. The Urban Land Conservancy has expressed a clear commitment to making the Blake TOD redevelopment an example of sustainability.”

The $50K in EPA support will enable the Urban Land Conservancy, working with architects, civil engineers, and various city departments, to assess and integrate specific green infrastructure features -- such as permeable surfaces, landscaping, rooftop detention, green roofs, rain gardens and stormwater planters -- into the design of the Blake mixed-use development. While specific features will be determined by the project team, this assistance will result in a reduction in the amount of polluted runoff from entering storm drains and the South Platte River through rain and snow melt. This project also complements efforts by the City of Denver to address stormwater conditions in conjunction with area planning and station platform construction by the Regional Transportation District (RTD).

"This collaboration comes at a perfect time as many components are coming together around the redevelopment of Blake,” said Debra Bustos, Director of Real Estate at Urban Land Conservancy. "It is always ULC's goal to incorporate sustainable features into our real estate, and we are grateful for EPA's assistance in transforming this blighted property with forward- thinking green infrastructure."

The currently vacant property is a blighted infill site of assembled parcels with zoning that will support up to 130 affordable rental units. Environmental assessments have been completed including a brownfields assessment and removal of two tanks. One burned out structure has been demolished and removed and a second one will be demolished in the next few weeks.

Green infrastructure decreases pollution to local waterways by treating rain where it falls and keeping polluted stormwater from entering sewer systems. In addition to protecting Americans’ health by decreasing water pollution, green infrastructure provides many community benefits including increased economic activity and neighborhood revitalization, job creation, energy savings and increased open space. The EPA funding is intended to increase incorporation of green infrastructure into stormwater management programs and will support work such as code review, green infrastructure design and cost-benefit assessments.

“Effective stormwater management is one of the most widespread challenges to water quality in the nation,” said Nancy Stoner, EPA’s Acting Assistant Administrator for Water. Stoner announced the funds today at a stormwater symposium in Baltimore held by the Water Environment Federation. “Polluted stormwater can be harmful to the health of our nation’s waterbodies. These funds will help expand the use of green infrastructure, revitalize local neighborhoods and help safeguard people’s health and the environment.”

In April 2011, EPA renewed its commitment to green infrastructure with the release of the “Strategic Agenda to Protect Waters and Build More Livable Communities through Green Infrastructure.” The agenda identifies community partnerships as one of five key activities that EPA will pursue to accelerate the implementation of green infrastructure and EPA announced partnerships with 10 “model communities.”

In February 2012, EPA announced the availability of $950,000 in technical assistance to a second set of partner communities to help overcome some of the most common barriers to green infrastructure. EPA received letters of interest from over 150 communities across the country.

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