The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (E.P.A.) is offering up to $1.8 million in new grants for urban green infrastructure projects that both improve water quality and support community revitalization. Projects that support the restoration of canals, rivers, lakes, wetlands, aquifers, estuaries, bays and oceans qualify.

The E.P.A. argues that improving urban water quality is central to sustainable urban development. “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 educational, recreational, employment and social opportunities in nearby communities. By promoting public access to urban waterways, E.P.A. will help communities become active participants in restoration and protection.”

Projects, training, and research initiatives that advance the restoration of urban waters while improving water quality and community access have a good shot at winning some funds. The E.P.A. lists some example projects:

  • “Education and training for water quality improvement or green infrastructure jobs
  • Public education about ways to reduce water pollution
  • Local water quality monitoring programs
  • Engaging diverse stakeholders to develop local watershed plans
  • Innovative projects that promote local water quality and community revitalization goals.”

Proposals must be received by January 23, 2012. The E.P.A. will host webinars on the grants on December 14, 2011 and January 5, 2012. Grants will be awarded in summer 2012.

In other news, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) announced a new set of “Our Town” creative placemaking grants ranging from $25,000 to $150,000. The NEA seeks to invest in planning, design, or “arts engagement” projects that “contribute toward the livability of communities and help transform them into lively, beautiful, and sustainable places with the arts at their core.” The grants must be matched 1-to-1 by other sources outside the federal government. There are no details on the total pool of grant funds available.

Image credit: Gowanus Canal Sponge Park, Brooklyn, New York / dlandstudio llc