Making a Positive Environmental Impact One Grant at a Time

By Dr. Mark LeChevallier – July 15, 2014 – Comment

Despite searching our solar system for inhabitable planets, as far as we know there’s no substitute for planet Earth. The deserving recipients of the 2014 Environmental Grants Program now have some extra help in making sure we can enjoy our planet today and into the future. Now in its 9th year, this program offers funds for innovative, community-driven grassroots environmental projects that improve, restore or protect the watersheds, surface water and/or groundwater supplies in a number of communities. It’s a true support of leadership efforts of folks in our communities to be more sustainable.

This year a total of 45 projects throughout American Water’s service areas in 11 states received grants totaling more than $185,000. The wide range of initiatives has provided support to help communities improve, restore and protect our valuable natural resources. Here are just a few examples of this year’s projects:

Stratton Elementary School in Champaign is receiving a $4,000 grant from Illinois American Water to construct a rain garden containing 11 species of native plants, which will be used as an outdoor learning center to strengthen learning about and connection to the environment.

“Community Waterways Clean-Up,” coordinated by the Friends of Stoner Creek in Bourbon County in partnership with the Bourbon County Road Department, local school groups and the local Boy Scouts of America, is receiving a $2,400 grant from Kentucky American Water to support a clean-up effort for various sections of Stoner Creek, a major waterway in Bourbon County, Ky.

Missouri River Relief was awarded $8,000 from Missouri American Water for the “Big Muddy Clean Sweep.” River Relief will conduct a trash-barge voyage on the Missouri River with community cleanups planned in Brunswick, Jefferson City and St. Joseph in 2014. The cleanups in Brunswick and Jefferson City will include river education days for local high school students, and will consist of volunteers from across the state of Missouri.

Girl Scouts Heart of New Jersey (Lebanon, NJ) was awarded a grant to install bat boxes near the Round Valley Reservoir. By thinning the insect population, bats help to reduce or stop the use of chemical pesticides, which produce harmful run-off into the reservoir. This project is funded by New Jersey American Water.

Friends of the Lower Appomattox River is receiving $1,000 from Virginia American Water for an erosion control project on the road leading to the canoe access point. Rocks will be installed to prevent soil erosion.

The City of Noblesville will use its $2,500 grant for The Hague Road Tree Planting Project, which will use green infrastructure to manage storm water runoff in the area by helping to filter pollutants before they reach nearby Cicero Creek. This project is funded by Indiana American Water.

Davenport Community Schools’ grant from Iowa American Water will be used for “Science in Progress: Connecting 5th Grade Science Curriculum with Water Quality”. The proposed project will establish a generational approach to watershed and water source protection by aligning city and school resources to empower 5th grade youth as environmental stewards and advocates, including introducing and supporting service learning opportunities such as cleanup throughout the community.

Every year I am amazed and inspired by the talented and innovative projects happening in our local communities. Helping to further the impact of ongoing programs, and turning new ideas into realities makes it even more rewarding to have a positive impact on the planet that we all inhabit.