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EPA Presents $700,000 Grant to Protect Susquehanna Watershed

Release Date: 07/02/2003
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(#03081) Binghamton, N.Y. -- Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) presented a $700,000 grant today to the Upper Susquehanna Coalition Exit EPA disclaimeras part of a new EPA national initiative supporting community-based approaches to cleaning up the nation's watersheds. The Upper Susquehanna watershed, a 7,534 square-mile largely agricultural area that stretches from Otsego, New York to Athens, Pennsylvania, is home to 100,000 people. The coalition's efforts will help ensure that the people who rely on the Susquehanna River for their drinking water continue to receive high quality water in years to come.

"The many threats to water quality demand a multi-faceted strategy for watershed protection," said Jane M. Kenny, regional administrator for EPA's Region 2, which includes New York State. "With this funding, the coalition will wisely take many routes to improving the Upper Susquehanna from restoring wetlands to reducing streambank erosion to repairing roadside ditches. Just as important, citizens and students will gain expertise that will contribute to the watershed's ongoing improvement."

Donald S. Welsh, Regional Administrator for EPA's Region 3, which includes Pennsylvania said: "This funding recognizes the public and private partnerships which improve the environmental health of the Susquehanna Headwaters watershed. The continuing dedication of community partners will ensure cleaner water and measurable environmental change."

The Upper Susquehanna Coalition will use its funding to restore wetlands throughout the watershed, build county coalitions to support community needs, install stream bank buffers, train local groups in natural stream restoration; assesses erosion, restore road ditches and establish a college internship program.

Mark Watts, District Manager, Chemung County Soil and Water Conservation District and Chairperson of the Upper Susquehanna Coalition said, "This funding will support our efforts at the county level to address local water quality issues of importance while also having positive benefits to our downstream neighbors. We are excited about showing how 14 counties can develop a watershed approach that crosses town, county and state lines to implement meaningful projects in a cost effective manner."

During last year's State of Union address, President Bush asked the nation's governors and tribal leaders to nominate proposals to support community-based approaches to clean up the nation's watersheds. This year Congress appropriated $15 million of the president's original $20 million dollar funding request. Overall, 20 watershed organizations nationwide are receiving grants ranging from $300,000 to $1 million.

Regional and national experts selected the winners from a highly competitive field of more than 176 nominations. The selectees were chosen based on demonstrated ability to achieve tangible environmental results in a short time, and on strong partnerships, wide public support, innovation and compatibility with existing government programs.