DALLAS – (July 17, 2014) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is awarding $52,185 to the Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science (Public Lab). The organization will train community members and wetland restoration advocates to monitor and track progress at eight ongoing urban wetland restoration projects near Lake Pontchartrain. The training will include introduction to basic science, technology, engineering, and math concepts through real-life application and investigation for sustained engagement in local urban waters issues.
“Restoration of Lake Pontchartrain and its waterways will improve public health, provide additional recreational opportunities and boost the local economy,” said EPA Regional Administrator Ron Curry. “Work by grant awardees and partner state agencies makes certain the lake continues to benefit our communities for many years to come.”
EPA is awarding $2.08 million to 36 organizations in 17 states and Puerto Rico, ranging from $40,000 to $60,000. The projects are in areas that align with the 18 designated Urban Waters Federal Partnership locations. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership includes 14 federal agencies working to reconnect urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and community-led revitalization efforts.
“Wetland restoration is critical for the future of the Gulf Coast but is not possible without the support and involvement of local residents. We are excited for the opportunity to work with the EPA and our partners on this important project, which will provide community members with simple but powerful tools to ensure the health of local restoration efforts,” said Public Lab Executive Director Shannon Dosemagen.
The Public Laboratory for Open Technology and Science is a nonprofit which develops and applies open source tools to enable environmental exploration and investigation. The organization’s goal is to increase the ability of underserved communities to identify, redress, remediate, and create awareness and accountability around community environmental health.
The grant, provided through EPA’s Urban Waters program, supports communities in their efforts to access and improve urban waters. Urban waters include canals, rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, estuaries, bays and oceans in urbanized areas. The program will allow communities to benefit from increased access to natural areas.
Many urban waterways have been polluted for years by sewage, runoff from city streets and contamination from abandoned industrial facilities. Healthy and accessible urban waters can help grow local businesses and enhance economic, educational, recreational and social opportunities in nearby communities. By reconnecting communities to their local urban waters, EPA will help communities actively participate in restoring urban waters while improving their neighborhoods.