The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition (SAWC) was recently awarded funding through the State’s Alaska Clean Water Actions (ACWA) grant to carry out community watershed projects in the communities of Haines, Skagway, and Wrangell.
A partnership between the State of Alaska’s Departments of Environmental Conservation, Fish & Game, and Natural Resources, ACWA was created to characterize Alaska’s waters in a holistic manner, and facilitate the sharing of data, resources, and information among state agencies. The ACWA grant program awards funds for projects to restore, protect, or conserve water quality, quantity, and aquatic habitat on identified waters.
Pullen Creek Rain Garden and Outreach, Skagway
Funding was awarded to carry out the Pullen Creek Rain Garden and Outreach project in partnership with Coalition member group Taiya Inlet Watershed Council in Skagway. This project addresses the need to treat stormwater that flows along city streets and into Pullen Creek by constructing a rain garden at the Senior Center in Skagway. Rain gardens capture and treat runoff from city streets and structures that can carry pollutants like oil, salt, and various chemicals. Plants and substrate incorporated into the rain garden are capable of naturally storing and filtering this runoff, treating the stormwater before it makes its way into Pullen Creek. The rain garden project will also serve as a means to educate Skagway residents about the benefits of low impact development.
Haines Borough Snow Removal Plan, Haines
With ACWA grant funds SAWC will work with Haines community partners and stakeholders to develop a snow removal plan to be presented to the Haines Assembly and Department of Transportation for adoption. Haines receives an average of 97 inches of snow per year and can receive as much as 120 inches of snow in a single month. Piles of snow, which are often laced with sand, grease, antifreeze, oil and heavy metals have, in the past, been pushed into fish-producing streams and tide pools. This project will provide Haines with a snow removal plan identifying alternative locations that will better protect sensitive fish and aquatic habitats.
Recreational Beach Monitoring, Wrangell
The Alaska DEC established the BEACH Program to provide support for communities to begin monitoring marine water quality at high-priority beaches for organisms that indicate fecal contamination. With funds through the ACWA grant SAWC will initiate a recreational beach monitoring program in the Coalition’s partner community of Wrangell. The monitoring program will sample waters at City Park and Petroglyph Beach in Wrangell. These beaches were identified by DEC as a high priority, because they are commonly used for swimming, wading, and recreation activities. DEC will work with local agencies to notify the public if monitoring results confirm bacterial levels that exceed public health criteria. The project will also increase public awareness of potential sources of bacterial contamination and associated health risks.
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