The U.S. EPA announced the Walnut Creek watershed as the 21st Urban Waters Federal Partnership location.
With this designation, 15 federal agencies will work collaboratively with local partners to restore the Walnut Creek watershed and mitigate flood risk under a partnership known as the Walnut Creek Urban Waters Partnership.
EPA made the announcement alongside the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) in Raleigh, North Carolina on April 21, 2023.
“The Urban Waters Federal Partnership embodies several EPA priorities – protecting vital water resources, working with partners to address community needs, and advancing progress toward an equitable water future for all Americans,” said EPA Assistant Administrator for Water Radhika Fox. “With this designation, EPA will help improve water quality and deliver multiple benefits to the residents of Raleigh and Wake County, North Carolina in support of President Biden’s commitment to clean water and environmental justice.”
“EPA is pleased to welcome Walnut Creek as an Urban Waters Federal Partner and supports this innovative partnership that reconnects urban communities with their watershed while encouraging stewardship and incentivizing local solutions in today’s environmental and public health challenges,” said Region 4 EPA Administrator Daniel Blackman. “This is a great opportunity to have EPA and the partners help the local community improve water quality, restore wetlands and protect wildlife while creating additional recreational opportunities for the surrounding areas.”
With this designation, the Urban Waters Federal Partnership program will engage with Walnut Creek stakeholders to leverage federal programs and funds to help advance the local goals and priorities identified in their Watershed Action Plan. The Plan identifies and prioritizes areas for improvement projects and calls for developing implementation plans and tracking water resource improvements across the entire Walnut Creek Watershed.
“The USDA Forest Service is proud to support the expansion of the UWFP to include the Walnut Creek Watershed in Southeast Raleigh, N.C.,” said Beattra Wilson, Assistant Director of Urban and Community Forestry at USDA Forest Service. “The placement of an UWFP Ambassador in the region to provide on-the-ground leadership and community engagement coordination is a proven model that will ensure that strategic investments made to improve the ecological function and community access to forested watershed benefits are inclusive, equitable and sustainable.”
In July 2021, Partners for Environmental Justice and the Carolina Wetlands Association, along with the U.S. Geological Survey serving as the federal lead, submitted a proposal to join the Partnership. The proposal identified the key local, state, federal, and non-governmental partners and stakeholders, collectively known as the Walnut Creek Watershed Action Team. The team is working to restore the Walnut Creek watershed, reconnect the community to its waterway, and alleviate flooding challenges the community faces.
With funding from the USDA Forest Service, The Conservation Fund, and the North Carolina Forest Service, Partners for Environmental Justice will hire a local coordinator, an Urban Waters Ambassador, to lead local, state, federal, non-profit and academic partners in the development and implementation of projects that achieve the goals of the Watershed Action Plan.