Urban Waters Federal Partnership 10-Year Anniversary Event
NOVEMBER 15, 2021 ─ On November 9, led by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior, 15 federal agencies and non-governmental partners commemorated a decade of accomplishments under the Urban Waters Federal Partnership while pledging their recommitment to this partnership. Twenty partnership locations across the country are advancing economic, public health, environmental, and social benefits by enhancing community connections to water.
White House Council on Environmental Quality Chair Brenda Mallory opened the event and noted: “The Urban Waters Federal Partnership Program recognizes that communities and clean water are integral to one another.” “For decades, this partnership program has demonstrated that restoring waterways reinvigorates communities by preserving areas that serve as natural flood protection, fish and wildlife habitat, and beautiful places where Americans can work and play safely outdoors. It’s an honor to celebrate this milestone by reaffirming our commitment to advancing environmental justice, connecting people to nature, and tackling the climate crisis.”
Dr. Letise LaFeir represented NOAA at the event and recognized OR&R's leadership in the Partnership in the past and looked forward to broader NOAA engagement in the future, particularly in areas related to the Administration's priorities.
The Urban Waters Federal Partnership brings together 15 federal agencies to work collaboratively with local communities and partners to restore urban waterways and their environments to boost recreational opportunities, help local economies, create jobs, and protect the health of Americans. The federal agencies currently support 20 locations across the nation with financial and technical assistance to address community-driven priorities. The Partnership also provides support to hundreds of additional underserved communities with seed funding for local projects and public education through the Urban Waters Learning Network.
Since 2011, OR&R has led NOAA participation in national UFWP meetings, including discussions of national strategy. On the regional level, OR&R coordinates with UFWP partners on its planning of restoration projects, resulting from natural resource damage assessment settlements, in 3 of the 20 designated urban waters locations: Delaware River Watershed, the Anacostia River Watershed, and the Passaic River.
Of these, OR&R’s engagement has been most extensive in the Delaware River location, which may provide a useful model for expanding NOAA engagement going forward. Outcomes from that partnership location include
- Coordination of several projects of local, regional, and national significance, including flood mitigation at the South Wilmington (DE) wetland,
- Reclamation of a large municipal landfill in Camden (NJ) for a community recreational center and an ecological park,
- A pioneering urban living shoreline at Lardner’s Point in Philadelphia, and
- A dam removal on the Brandywine River that returned shad to spawning habitat after over 200 years and reconnected the community to a river resource.