Today, Blue Water Baltimore announced that we have received $500,000 from the Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund to comprehensively address the stormwater, greening, and targeted public health goals in five Baltimore City neighborhoods. Blue Water Baltimore is calling this novel approach Deep Blue.
Blue Water Baltimore staff, along with Congressmen C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger and John Sarbanes, and representatives from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, gathered at the Prince of Peace Baptist Church for the announcement of the 2015 Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund grant recipients.
These new funds will enable Blue Water Baltimore to engage in a community-based approach though our new Deep Blue program to represent a diverse mix of under-served communities and focus on restoring environmental health through green infrastructure.
Deep Blue is an exciting and new innovative partnership between Blue Water Baltimore, Baltimore City Department of Public Works, and the Neighborhood Design Center. With our partners, we will work within the five targeted neighborhoods which include Mondawmin, Oliver, Greater Highlandtown, Belair-Edison, and Cherry Hill, to produces tangible benefits that improve public health and economic outcomes through environmental restoration.
“We are ready to get to work on this exciting partnership effort and grateful for the resources to help make it happen. Community leaders and residents have been doing great work to better their communities, which we can now further support through planning and implementation of projects. Efforts funded through this initiative will connect our environmental restoration efforts to community priorities that will help improve air quality, water quality, community aesthetics, property values and more,” said Blue Water Baltimore Executive Director Halle Van der Gaag.
Blue Water Baltimore has a holistic set of programs and staff expertise that will be targeted within these five neighborhoods, as well as $2 million in leveraged capital improvement funds from the City.
This new approach moves us away from the traditional program model of installing isolated practices, and moves us toward a comprehensive and community-based approach that breaks the cycle of planning fatigue through immediate and long-term solutions.
Using the Walkable Watershed model, we will bring together community members, non-profits, and city agencies to identify greening projects on public and private land that advance community priorities.
“This comprehensive approach for outreach, education, and planning will create citizens who are more informed, build a sense of stewardship, and provide many social and environmental benefits. This approach aligns with our plans, and the plans of our partner agencies, in creating a healthier local waterways and a healthier Chesapeake Bay,” said Baltimore City Department of Public Works Director Rudy S. Chow. “Additionally, the public projects that will be identified through this planning process will leverage approximately $2 million in stormwater capital projects for these neighborhoods. We are happy to partner with Blue Water Baltimore and other entities to help meet our various regulatory goals, and provide a model for other projects here and beyond.”
Once projects are implemented, we will have less polluted run-off entering our streams and the Baltimore Harbor. Although green infrastructure will not address every layer of need in any particular neighborhood, we believe this process will in fact address important community and environmental challenges through listening, planning, and project implementation.
Following the press conference partners broke ground on a new 1,200 square foot bioretetion area at the Prince of Peace Baptist Church. The Church was selected as the press conference site because the project is funded through a previous Chesapeake Bay Stewardship Fund grant that National Wildlife Federation received and partnered with Blue Water Baltimore for design and installation of the pollution-reducing practice.