San Joaquin Valley gets $25K grant from EPA for groundwater project

SAN FRANCISCO — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency awarded $99,988 in grants to organizations in the Sam Joaquin Valley, Los Angeles, Riverside, Kettleman City for projects focused on reducing exposure of toxins, diesel education and drinking water improvements.

The grants enable nonprofit organizations to conduct research, provide education and develop solutions to local health and environmental issues in communities overburdened by harmful pollution, according to a news release.

In the Valley, Community Water Center got a $25,000 grant for its project, “Protecting Groundwater from the Ground UP.” The project is at work in Merced, Tulare, Kern, Fresno, Kings, Madera, San Joaquin and Stanislaus counties.

The project aims to educate select disadvantaged rural communities in the Valley about the causes and effects of drinking water pollution in their communities, and empower affected residents to take specific actions to reduce and prevent contamination of the region’s drinking water sources in the future, the news release said.

The project will provide technical assistance to residents facing water challenges, utilize various strategies to reach and educate residents about the pervasive lack of safe drinking water, provide water quality trainings to residents who want to become more engaged in San Joaquin Valley drinking water protection efforts and facilitate the direct participation of residents in various types of public venues where water quality decisions are made, according to the news release.

EPA also announced it is seeking applicants for $1 million in environmental justice small grants expected to be awarded in 2012. The 2012 grant solicitation will close on Feb. 29, 2012.

Since 1994, the environmental justice small grants program has provided more than $23 million in funding to community-based nonprofit organizations and local governments working to address environmental issues in more than 1,200 communities.--Sun-Star staff