Urban Waters

EPA Urban Waters Resources

EPA Urban Waters Resources

Pollution creeps into urban waterways from a variety of sources, and can result in those waters becoming unfit resources for drinking water or for swimming. On this page, we will share links to resources on EPA.gov where you can learn about the causes of and methods for dealing with urban water pollution.


Urban Waters Small Grants
Urban Water Small Grants support community efforts to make water quality restoration relevant to public health, social, economic, and livability goals. 

Brownfields Grants to Support Assessment/Cleanup of Contaminated Property, Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training Grants, and Targeted Brownfields Assessments
EPA's Brownfields Program provides direct funding for brownfields assessment, cleanup, revolving loans, and environmental job training.

Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection
This site is a searchable database of financial assistance sources (grants, loans, cost-sharing) available to fund a variety of watershed protection projects.

Sustainable Finance Website
This resource outlines the six key steps of fundraising plan development, introduces a diverse set of funding options, and provides case studies of successful finance mechanisms.

Watershed Funding Resource Directory
Committed watershed organizations and state and local governments need adequate resources to achieve the goals of the Clean Water Act and improve our nation's water quality.

The National Fish and Wildlife Five Star/Urban Waters Restoration Program
NFWF Grants, funded through a public/private partnership that includes EPA and the US Forest Service, announces grant awards totaling over $1.2 million. EPA and the Urban Waters Federal Partnership congratulate the forty-six grant recipients.

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Watershed Planning and Management

Community-Based Watershed Management: Lessons Learned from the National Estuary Program (NEP) (PDF) (112 pp, 4.13MB, About PDF)
This handbook was designed for all individuals and organizations involved in watershed management, including states, tribes, local governments, and nongovernmental organizations.

Design Principles for Stormwater Management on Compacted, Contaminated Soils in Dense Urban Areas (PDF) (4 pp, 819K, About PDF)

Directory of EPA Watershed Publications

Key EPA Water Internet Tools Course
Self-paced training tools posted on the website and also available as live training.

Technical Assistance to Brownfields Communities
The TAB grants provide geographically-based technical assistance and training to communities and other stakeholders on brownfields issues with the goal of increasing the community's understanding and involvement in brownfield cleanup and revitalization.

W.A.T.E.R.S. — Watershed Assessment, Tracking, and Results Database
This site unites water quality information that was previously available only from several independent and unconnected databases.

Watershed Academy Web
For an introduction to the field of watershed management, this site provides 50 different self-paced training modules and an informative webcast series.

Watershed Academy Webcasts
Free on-line seminars on key topics in watershed management, including technical tools, sustainable financing, and other helpful topics. Archives are also posted and available as podcasts.

Watershed Central and Wiki
This wiki is designed to be a central location on the web for sharing watershed information and management tools. EPA recognizes that it takes informed citizens and corporations and active involvement of states, tribes, local and federal agencies to find comprehensive solutions to water resources problems.

Watershed Plan Builder
This site provides information and tools developed by EPA to assist with the development and implementation of effective watershed management plans. It is designed for people who are involved in watershed management activities. These activities include the development and implementation of watershed plans, the analysis of data, and the implementation of management practices.

Watershed Planning Handbook
A guide to development and restoration processes for polluted water sources via watershed management strategies.

Watershed Planning Training
This course is based on the Watershed Planning Handbook and aims to help communities build capacity in areas such as building partnerships, finding water quality data, and monitoring.

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Water Quality and Pollution Prevention

Clearinghouse for Information on Lakeshore Protection and Restoration

Drinking Water Academy
The Drinking Water Academy provides online training and information to ensure that water professionals, public officials, and involved citizens have the knowledge and skills necessary to protect our drinking water supply.

ECHO EPA Enforcement and Compliance History Online
ECHO integrates inspection, violation, and enforcement for the Clean Water Act, Clean Air Act, and hazardous waste laws.

EPA Water Quality Video Contest
In March 2009 EPA's Office of Wetlands, Oceans, and Watersheds launched a Water Quality Video Contest to inspire environmental stewardship and educate the public on ways individuals can improve water quality in their community.

Green Roofs
Green roofs are covered in native plants and permeable paths that absorb and manage stormwater on-site before it flows into streets and washes pollutants into streams and rivers. Ecoroofs are living, breathing, sustainable alternatives to conventional roofs. They improve air quality by capturing air and water pollutants, provide habitat for pollinating insects and birds, save energy by naturally cooling buildings and reducing the urban heat island effect, and provide more neighborhood green spaces.

Green Streets
Green streets are designed to incorporate rain gardens, permeable pavement, and narrower roadways. They manage stormwater runoff naturally, allowing water to soak back into the ground, which filters out pollutants and keeps them from entering rivers and streams. This is much more cost-effective than building bigger underground pipes to collect stormwater before piping it to a treatment plant which uses a lot of energy. Green streets reconnect rainwater to groundwater and supply consistent, clean water supplies to rivers and streams.

Nonpoint Source Pollution
Unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, NPS pollution comes from many diffuse sources. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters and ground waters.

Pollution Nitrogen and Phosphorous Water Pollution Outreach Portal

When rain and snow falls on roofs, parking lots, and streets, it rinses all the accumulated pollutants on these surfaces — bacteria, oil, dirt and trash — into a contaminated mixture known as stormwater, a leading cause of water pollution in urban areas. Because so many communities are paved over with homes, businesses and industries, much of this stormwater cannot soak into the ground as it would naturally. Instead, it washes into nearby lakes, streams and estuaries.

Tree Planting
Trees hold water to reduce stormwater runoff, filter air pollutants and provide wildlife habitat. Trees stabilize soil to prevent erosion, provide shade and absorb carbon to reduce the greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change. Trees improve property values, and street trees can slow traffic, making streets safer for pedestrians, bike riders and motorists.

Water Quality Assessment Tools and Models
Water quality models are tools for simulating the movement of precipitation and pollutants from the ground surface through pipe and channel networks, storage treatment units and finally to receiving waters.

Water Quality Criteria for Nitrogen and Phosphorus Exit
The Nitrogen and Phosphorus Outreach Portal is a resource for anyone interested in learning about the impact of nitrogen and phosphorus on water ecosystems.

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Community Information

Adopt Your Watershed
EPA's Adopt Your Watershed program challenges you to serve your community by taking part in activities to protect and restore your local watershed.

Community Culture and the Environment: A Guide to Understanding a Sense of Place (293 pp, 10MB, About PDF)
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has compiled this technical document of tools and methods for understanding the human dimension of environmental protection. It is designed to provide leaders in the environmental field a means for better understanding community values and processes as they relate to environmental issues, thus resulting in more effective partnerships and approaches to solving environmental problems.

Community and Superfund Resources
EPA provides assistance to communities through a variety of technical assistance and training resources. These resources help communities participate in Superfund decisions at sites in their community. This page provides information about community involvement resources provided by EPA as well as links to other programs that may be useful to communities with Superfund sites.

EPA Smart Growth
EPA helps communities grow in ways that expand economic opportunity, protect public health and the environment, and create and enhance the places that people love. Through research, tools, partnerships, case studies, grants, and technical assistance, EPA is helping America's communities turn their visions of the future into reality.

My Environment
This EPA search application provides a cross-section of environmental data based on the specific location identified.

Surf Your Watershed
Once you locate your watershed, simply click on the first link ("Citizen-based Groups at work in this watershed") to find a listing of organizations that are working to protect water quality. You may wish to contact one of these groups to find out about cleanups, monitoring activities, restoration projects and other activities.

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Outreach Development

Coastal Urban Waters Toolkit
Education materials and other resources to help partners engage communities to value urban waters and prevent marine debris.

"Getting In Step: A Guide for Conducting Watershed Outreach Campaigns"
A guide to maximizing the effectiveness of public outreach campaigns to reduce nonpoint source pollution and protect our water resources.

Non Point Source Toolbox
This is a set of web-based resources to help communities develop an effective and targeted outreach campaign.

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Case Studies

Case Studies for Stormwater Management on Compacted, Contaminated Soils in Dense Urban Areas (PDF) (4 pp, 419K, About PDF)
EPA's Brownfields Program is designed to empower states, communities, and other stakeholders in economic redevelopment to work together in a timely manner to prevent, assess, safely clean up, and sustainably reuse brownfields. A brownfield is a property where expansion, redevelopment, or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant. EPA's Brownfields Program provides financial and technical assistance for brownfield revitalization, including grants for environmental assessment, cleanup, and job training.

How Does Your Garden Grow? Brownfields Redevelopment and Urban Agriculture (PDF) (4 pp, 1.38MB, About PDF)
Communities nationwide use brownfields funding to assess and clean sites for a variety of uses, including community gardens and farmers markets.

NonPoint Source/Watershed Management Case Study Success Stories

Success Stories from Groundwork Trusts
Working with the Brownfields Program and the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program on urban water issues.

Targeted Watershed Grant Case Studies

Urban Agriculture on Brownfields Website
Information for people pursuing agriculture projects as a part of brownfield redevelopment and reuse.

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