EPA Grant

EPA Grant Spurs Hands-on Learning

Residents of Spanish Lake will soon be asked to join with other North St. Louis County neighbors in a newly funded initiative to assure clean water in our area for years to come. The effort springs from a federally funded program to engage the community of Watkins Creek Watershed in a three year, $666,000 public/private partnership. The Watkins Creek Demonstration Project will implement information/education programs in the watershed to educate the students, their families, local municipal leaders, and the general public about urban stream issues, nonpoint source pollution, and best management practices to control urban stormwater runoff. The federal funding for the project is provided by the Environmental Protection Agency, Region 7, 319(h) Nonpoint Source Implementation Grant through the Missouri Department of Natural Resources.

Watkins Creek, a small six-mile urban stream, surfaces in the City of Black Jack coursing through the Spanish Lake/Glasgow area and Bellefontaine Neighbors on its way to the Mississippi River. Besides the Spanish Lake Community Association, the partnership includes the Hazelwood School District, Metropolitan Sewer District (MSD), St. Louis Soil and Water District and the Missouri Botanical Gardens (MOBOT). It is led by RegionWise, an urban Center in the College of Public Service at Saint Louis University. Other participants are St. Louis County and Missouri American Water. SLU and its partners have committed 40 percent in required local match.

Hazelwood school district will receive approximately $200,000 to construct natural stormwater control features on the campuses of its four new middle schools, scheduled to open beginning this month. Stormwater management practices like bio-swales, streambank bio-retention structures, rain gardens, and riparian corridor restoration will be demonstrated on the four school sites to show some effective measures to address urban nonpoint pollution issues created by excess stormwater runoff. These features, identified by the EPA as best management practices for urban site development, will be integrated into the school district’s MSD approved storm water system. The demonstrations will offer students and interested residents real life examples of the ways in which natural water systems behave, as well as how to reduce stream bank erosion. Parsons & Brinkerhoff, the school district’s lead architectural firm is handling the site design, as well as assisting with oversight of the building projects.

The BioSwales and Community Rain Gardens will serve as outdoor classrooms for student science learning while aiding the return of rainwater naturally to the watershed system. Planting of the Rain Gardens will offer a community wide event bringing together students, families and others interested in learning how to recreate the attractive natural features in their own back yards. Volunteers will receive training from Missouri Botanical Gardens and have one-time or ongoing opportunities to participate in planting and maintenance of the native community gardens.