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Urban Waters

Federal Resources for Communities and their Urban Waters

Urban Waters at the 2011 National River Rally

River Rally is an annual event sponsored by the River Network. River Rally attracts a great diversity of conservation leaders, bringing new ideas for the best water resource protection strategies to participants, and revitalizing the commitment of those who attend to continue protecting the rivers, streams, lakes, wetlands and estuaries they cherish.

In order to help local practitioners and fellow government agencies understand some available federal resources, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership and other organizations convened a workshop at River Rally to explore some of these tools in-depth. Environmental and natural resource presentations were combined with those that considered community and economic development. This approach allowed for a comprehensive look at how communities can maximize many federal resources.

The information below showcases these tools and resources that would be useful for organizations working to improve urban watersheds and waterways. It includes a cross section of resources such as computer software, online tools, technical training, educational materials, grant opportunities, and more.

Federal Resource Links


NOAANational Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Digital Coast — Tools for Coastal Communities

Digital Coast offers access to a host of tools (NOAA's and others) useful for addressing water issues in the coastal zone and beyond. The website makes available free and online, data sets, tools, additional training, and approaches. The sites’ 'In Actions' and 'case studies' will show you how others are using the available data and tools in their communities. The toolkit was shaped by the contributing partners.

Presentation: NOAA's Digital Coast: Tools for Coastal Communities (PDF) (24 pp, 3MB, About PDF)

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USGSU.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Urban Waters Portal

Check out educational and other valuable resources available at the USGS Urban Portal

  • Podcasts in English and Spanish on Urban Stream Ecosystems for educational purposes
  • Publications documenting urban streams and groundwater issues, status, and trends

Presentation: USGS Urban Waters Portal with reports, data and case studies (PDF) (19 pp, 2.9MB, About PDF)

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USHUDHousing and Urban Development (HUD) Community Development Block Grant

HUD partners with cities, counties and other jurisdictions to offer these grants. Applicants must develop a plan that goes through their jurisdiction. Groundwork USA used this grant process.

You may need to move off the river a little and get creative to find more funding (e.g., resident training, community gardens, tree planting, clean-ups, art projects).

Presentation: HUD Community Block Development Grants (PDF) (10 pp, 2.3MB, About PDF)

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USFSU.S. Forest Service (USFS) i-Tree Hydro and Landscape Mapping

Forest Tools for Urban Waters

  • iTree
    • Includes two urban forest assessment tools (iTree Eco, iTree Streets) and three forest management utilities (iTree Vue, iTree Storm, iTree Species)
  • Urban Tree Canopy Assessment
  • UTC Prioritization = Possible, Preferable, Potential
  • Stewardship Mapping
    • NY Community Maps - citywide spatial dataset could be used in comparison to all many other types of data, including census data, land use data, etc.

Presentation: USFS i-Tree Hydro and Landscape Mapping Tools (PDF) (19 pp, 2.8MB, About PDF)

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US EDAU.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA)

EDA Programs

Eligible applicants are: States and units of local government, tribes, economic development districts, colleges & universities and public or private non-profit organizations (acting in cooperation with local government).


  • Per Capita Income (80% or less than the national average)
  • Unemployment (1% or higher than the national 24-month average)
  • Special Need (job losses, natural disasters, military base closures)

Application Process:

  • Processes requests for funding on a quarterly basis
  • 90 to 120 days to make an award (less if denied)
  • www.grants.gov
  • www.eda.gov
    • For contact info, select About EDA, then Regional Offices
    • For programs info, select Program & Funding Opportunities
  • For more information, contact the Economic Development Representative for your state

Presentation: EDA grant programs (PDF) (11 pp, 224K, About PDF)

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US EPAEPA Key Internet Tools for Watershed Groups

  • Watershed Central
  • Surf & Adopt Your Watershed
    • Surf Your Watershed acts as a portal to watershed-related data and resources from the EPA and other federal agencies such as USGS and USDA.  Surf-Your-Watershed lets you find and locate your watershed and then connects you to an impressive inventory of watershed data.
    • Visit our on-line Adopt Your Watershed database of more than 2,600 watershed groups to learn about opportunities to get involved in activities such as volunteer water monitoring, stream cleanups, and storm drain marking. Once you locate your watershed, simply click on "citizen-based groups at work in this watershed" to find a list of organizations.
  • Nonpoint Source Outreach Toolbox
    • The Nonpoint Source (NPS) Outreach Toolbox is intended for use by state and local agencies and other organizations interested in educating the public on nonpoint source pollution or stormwater runoff. The Toolbox contains a variety of resources to help develop an effective and targeted outreach campaign.
  • Watershed Academy
    • The Web site offers a variety of self-paced training modules that represent a basic and broad introduction to the watershed management field.
  • Catalog of Federal Funding
    • The Catalog of Federal Funding Sources for Watershed Protection Web site is a searchable database of financial assistance sources (grants, loans, cost-sharing) available to fund a variety of watershed protection projects.

Presentation: EPA Watershed Academy, Adopt a Watershed, Watershed Central, and more (PDF) (25 pp, 3.8MB, About PDF)

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Community Example

Genetta Stream Restoration Project - City of Montgomery, AL
Department of Justice – Weed & Seed, 2004-2010
Partners Included the City of Montgomery, HUD, FHWA , EPA, NPS, USACE, USGS, State of Alabama Departments of Transportation (DOT) and Environmental Management (ADEM), Montgomery Public Schools, Alabama Clean Water Partnership


2008 – Weed & Seed asked council persons to provide funding
2009 – Plan developed highlighting stream restoration, EPA holds community visioning session resulting in enhanced collaborations
2010 – Master plan developed, City applies for Section 319 grant
2011 – Funds approved, Phase I construction scheduled for summer 2011

Project funding:

  • $1,600,000 Clean Water State Revolving Loan Fund by ADEM
    ($947,000 principal to be forgiven)
  • $400,000 Section 319 Stream Restoration Grant by ADEM
  • $600,000 City of Montgomery (land acquisition/site preparation)

CASE STUDY: Genetta Stream Restoration Project, City of Montgomery, Alabama (PDF) (18 pp, 3.4MB, About PDF)

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