Attendees listen anxiously to the announcement about the Urban Waters Federal Partnership expanding to Proctor Creek
HUD SE RA Administrator, Ed Jennings, Jr. shares with attendees HUD's commitment to the Urban Waters Revitalization efforts in Proctor Creek
The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development recently joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed and West Atlanta Watershed Alliance, in partnership with the White House Council on Environmental Quality, the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Transportation, the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers and the Centers for Disease Control, along with other federal partners, at a press conference in Maddox Park to announce that the Urban Waters Federal Partnership is expanding to include Proctor Creek in Atlanta, GA. Proctor Creek is one of eleven new communities selected for the partnership as urban waters are known to be threatened due to pollution from various sources.
"Communities in and around the Proctor Creek Watershed have long suffered from pollution caused by Atlanta's aging sewer infrastructure, disinvestment in the urban core, illegal dumping and other environmental and public health hazards", said Na'Taki Osborne Jelks, Chair of the West Atlanta Watershed Alliance. Polluted urban waters creates many hazards and restrictions such as decreasing the quality of drinking water, not being able to fish and eat the fish caught, and keeping families and children from swimming in it. Safe and clean water streams are essential to what makes urban communities work.
Ed Jennings, Jr., Regional Administrator, HUD Region 4, proclaimed HUD's support by stating, "As a member of the Partnership, HUD will continue to work with our federal partners and the participating local communities to align appropriate HUD resources with water cleanup efforts". He went on by sharing with the group examples of resources that can be used to support environmentally-sensitive economic development such as the Community Development Block Grants. The excitement and anticipation of this expansion was seen in the audience as over 100 people cheered and clapped as each federal partner spoke about its support and commitment to this initiative.
The future of Proctor Creek became very promising as City of Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed added, "With the help of federal and community partners, this effort will spur economic development, connect communities with new recreation opportunities and green space, and integrate investments in storm and wastewater management". Many community members seemed glad to hear federal agencies discuss their plans to invest in Proctor Creek because there was a sense of relief that "finally" their community will soon be able to benefit from this stream of water that has been abandoned for years.
The Proctor Creek watershed, which is part of the Chattahoochee River, is approximately 16 square miles with 127,418 people living in the area. It is facing many environmental challenges. Protecting and revitalizing urban waters does not only improve the public's health but also improves communities by enhancing its appearance and increasing property values. The Urban Waters Federal Partnership will reconnect urban communities with their waterways by improving coordination among federal agencies and collaborating with community-led revitalization efforts to improve the Nation's water systems and promote their economic, environmental and social benefits (U.S. Environmental Protection Agency).