American cities were largely built on the livelihood of its waterways. Whether it was to use the force of a river to create mills or to export goods in a port, the economy of a city depended on the health of its waterways.
This dependence has been de-emphasized over the years, but the EPA is joining forces with other agencies to bring back the notion that cities will thrive alongside healthy rivers. The EPA is convinced that if people dedicate more resources to cleaning up rivers, the jobs will follow.
We can measure the truth of this scenario by new efforts put into place by the Urban Waters Federal Partnership (UWFP). The UWFP will direct its efforts in places such as New York City where the Harlem River and Bronx River run and in New Orleans, home of Lake Pontchartrain.
Each of the pilot locations already has a strong restoration effort underway, spearheaded by local governments and community organizations. Lessons learned from these pilot locations will be transferred to other cities in the country.
The hope is that caring for the waterways will revitalize communities, creating jobs and improving the qualities of life in cities and towns across the nation. The idea is that jobs will naturally result from positive economic impact on local businesses, tourism and property values, as well as spur private investment and job creation in these communities.
“There is a range of health and environmental challenges facing our urban waters today — but each challenge is matched by an incredible opportunity to transform distressed urban waterfronts into centerpieces for community revitalization,” said EPA Administrator Lisa P. Jackson. “Urban waters have the potential to support healthy environments, growing business and educational and recreational activities. By bringing together the experience and expertise of multiple federal partners, we have a chance to reconnect local residents, young people and community groups with the environmental resources all around them.”