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EPA Awards $1.2 million to Help Communities Address Environmental, Public Health Risks

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EPA Press Office (

WASHINGTON  — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $1.2 million in cooperative agreements awarded to ten organizations working to address environmental justice (EJ) issues in their communities. Projects selected this year reflect an emphasis on support for rural communities and watershed protection.

“Many rural and disadvantaged communities are disproportionately impacted by environmental health risks, such as lead exposure or unsafe drinking water,” said EPA Acting Administrator Andrew Wheeler. “EPA is committed to supporting local partnerships that will improve the environment and health of these underserved communities.”

The 2018 awards provide up to $120,000 per project for a two-year project period. Special consideration this year was given to projects located in rural areas, with the goal of increasing outreach and community capacity building in areas where such resources can be particularly scarce. Eight of the ten total projects awarded are in rural areas.

For the first time, EPA’s Urban Waters program provided funding for projects, sponsoring work in two communities. By adopting a watershed approach, these projects will help improve the quality of local waterways and strengthen community connections to them. 

The funding is provided through EPA's Environmental Justice Collaborative Problem-Solving (EJCPS) program, which supports local organizations in their efforts to develop and implement community-driven solutions that address environmental and public health disparities in minority, low-income, tribal and indigenous populations. The ten community projects were selected from 72 applications. A summary of each project is provided below. 
2018 EJCPS Communities:

EPA Region 1 - Lewiston, Maine
Central Maine Community Health Corporation and partners seek to help underserved residents of who experience extreme poverty and disproportionate housing-related health impacts, including lead exposure and asthma, by increasing the number of healthy residential housing units and empowering those residents to access healthy housing.

EPA Region 2 - Camden, New Jersey 
Center for Family Services, Inc. will develop a program to address illegal dumping that includes training for a “clean-up” corps of community youth, community events focused on illegal dumping education, and a marketing and advocacy campaign to promote use of an online portal for reporting illegal dump sites.

EPA Region3 - Morgantown, West Virginia 
Friends of Deckers Creek will monitor fecal coliform and E. coli levels of the Deckers Creek Watershed, educate the public about the hazards of contamination and their rights under the Clean Water Act, and actively engage communities by holding public forums on contamination issues and involving them in the monitoring process. This project was funded by the Urban Waters program. 

EPA Region 4 - Athens, Georgia
Athens Land Trust will monitor the disproportionate air and water quality hazards experienced by two historically African American neighborhoods and support environmental education initiatives to help residents understand the hazards and the steps they can take to protect themselves and their families from potential impacts. 

EPA Region 5 – Au Gres, Tawas, East Tawas, and Rogers City, Michigan
Huron Pines will coordinate collaborations between rural coastal cities to identify environmental degradation issues due to stormwater runoff, strategically plan and leverage funding to protect water quality, and create a green infrastructure curriculum for the area to facilitate local environmental improvements and collaboration.

EPA Region 6 - Taos Valley, New Mexico
Amigos Bravos will work in the rural area of the Taos Valley to address water contamination of the Rio Fernando de Taos through water sampling and testing to determine sources of the on-going E. coli contamination and through watershed education activities, public meetings, and outreach. This project was funded by the Urban Waters program.

EPA Region 7 - Postville, Iowa
Resource Conservation & Development for Northeast Iowa, Inc. and partners will distribute free test kits for lead and radon testing, provide multi-lingual interpretation of results for residents, and bring together private and public partners to develop and implement remediation strategies and provide information about local environmental and public health issues. 

EPA Region 8 – Summit County, Utah
Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment will focus on improving the air quality in northern Utah, which suffers from severe winter inversions. The project includes a voluntary fireplace exchange program focusing on low and moderate-income residents, and an education and awareness campaign targeting underserved populations to address the environmental and health effects of wood smoke. 

EPA Region 9 – Winchester Heights, Arizona
Southeast Arizona Area Health Education Center, Inc. will provide community capacity building for an isolated, unincorporated community in southeast Arizona. Priorities include addressing drinking water quality by training community health workers on community involvement and education strategies, conducting home visits to assess drinking water, and remediation of drinking water issues through installation of water filters, application of chlorine, and/or addressing faulty pipes.

EPA Region 10 – Rural Alaska 
Zender Environmental Health & Research Group and partners will pilot a backhauling program to address waste issues in 30 rural Alaska Native Villages located off the road system and only accessible by summer barge/boat or small plane. The project builds community capacity and leadership for villages to carry out a state-wide backhauling program where 160 villages use barges and small planes to transport their waste from tribal lands to proper landfills and other disposal facilities.

For more information about the 2018 EJ CPS projects:

For more information on the EJ Collaborative Problem-Solving Program, including descriptions of previously funded projects: