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EPA awards green infrastructure grants to Gary and Hammond

Washington, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced Great Lakes Restoration Initiative grants totaling $500,000 to the Cities of Gary and Hammond, Ind., to fund green infrastructure projects that will improve water quality in Lake Michigan.

EPA Region 5 Administrator/Great Lakes National Program Manager Susan Hedman was joined for the announcement at the Marquette Park Pavilion by U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky, Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson and Mark McLaughlin, Chief of Staff for Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott.

“Gary and Hammond will use these EPA Great Lakes Restoration Initiative Shoreline Cities Grants for green infrastructure projects to protect Lake Michigan,” said Hedman. “Green infrastructure traps and filters rain where it falls – to reduce flooding and to prevent storm water from washing contaminants into our waterways.”

“EPA is an instrumental partner to the Northwest Indiana region. Their emphasis to hire and train Gary and Hammond residents to learn skills about green infrastructure development is commendable,” Visclosky said. “The EPA’s commitment to our region is key to the restoration and protection of the Great Lakes.”

Gary will use EPA’s $250,000 grant, in combination with funding from the city ($83,500) and the Cleveland Botanical Garden ($168,000), to construct green infrastructure in the Aetna, Emerson, Miller and Horace Mann neighborhoods. The city will train local residents to install and maintain bioswales, rain gardens and permeable pavement around schools, parks, streets and parking lots to capture and filter stormwater before it drains into the city’s sewer system or runs off into Lake Michigan.

“The City of Gary is proud to receive the Great Lakes Shoreline Cities Grant because Lake Michigan is one of our greatest assets,” said Mayor Freeman-Wilson. “We want to do everything we can to improve water quality for our residents and visitors as well as to emphasize the importance of creating more green infrastructures.”

The City of Hammond will use EPA’s $250,000 grant, in combination with $250,000 from the city, to construct rain gardens and to install permeable pavement at the Hammond Marina and Hammond Lakefront Park. The green infrastructure projects will prevent contaminated runoff from being discharged into Lake Michigan during major storms. Signs at the marina will explain the environmental benefits of green infrastructure.

Sixteen cities received funding in the initial round of Great Lakes Shoreline Cities grants, which fund up to 50 percent of the cost of green infrastructure projects on public property. The projects include rain gardens, bioswales, green roofs, porous pavement, greenways, constructed wetlands, stormwater tree trenches and other green infrastructure measures designed to improve water quality in the Great Lakes basin.

Additional information about the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative and Shoreline Cities Green Infrastructure Grants is available at www.glri.us.