Funding Wishes Granted - EAHCP grant program receives $725,000 in new funding
Every dollar counts. And that’s especially true when working with public dollars. With that view established among EAHCP team members, the group recently announced a successful round of federal and state grant applications that tallied nearly $725,000.
“Pooling resources has been a way of doing business in this Edwards Aquifer Habitat Conservation Plan (EAHCP), and so acquiring federal and state grants is something we do focus on with our EAHCP partners,” said Alicia Reinmund-Martinez, EAHCP Director. “Maintaining the federal permit associated with the EAHCP is critical to the Edwards Region, and that expansive effort is expensive. Grant dollars do help relieve a bit of those financial commitments of all partners.”
The City of New Braunfels was awarded a grant of $443,000 to implement water quality protection measures in its Dry Comal Creek and Comal River Watershed Protection Plan (WPP). The grant funding is a federal 319 grant which is part of the Clean Water Act. Those federal funds are distributed to states, and in the State of Texas are administered by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The New Braunfels WPP is focused on reducing bacteria loading to the Dry Comal Creek and Comal River and the environmental management measures that address urban wildlife management, pet waste management, and public education.
The Meadows Center in San Marcos received $279,000 to apply toward the city’s downtown bio-filtration pond, which is an EAHCP project, and Sessom Creek watershed restoration. The work funded by the grants is composed of non-native, invasive vegetation removal and native plant restoration, as well as the installation of vegetation filters to capture stormwater runoff. The Sessom Creek watershed, located in the upper San Marcos River, carries stormwater runoff directly into areas where San Marcos Spring openings and endangered species are located. Unfiltered urban runoff would negatively impact water quality over time, so San Marcos and the EAHCP developed projects to clean up that water before it empties into those environmentally sensitive areas.
“The grants are divided into 60 percent federal and 40 percent local match,” Reinmund-Martinez explained. “The EAHCP is part of that local match contributing dollars and in-kind services. These specific federal grant programs are perfectly suited for the EAHCP partners because we are addressing two major federal programs, the Clean Water Act and the Endangered Species Act. That, plus federal grants always require a local match, which in this case are provided by the EAHCP members. As a former federal employee who monitored these types of grants, I can tell you that the federal agencies like seeing their money go further as they are with the EAHCP.”
The awarded grant dollars will become available in 2018 and will cover a two-year period. While this last round of grant applications was quite successful, another set of grant requests is already in the pipeline.