NOAA recommends nearly $2.3 million for Northeast Ohio water conservation, litter reduction programs
The National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has recommended nearly $2.3 million in federal funding to support water conservation and cleanup programs in Northeast Ohio.
The programs aim to protect the water and habitat in the Chagrin River, and reduce the amount of trash in and around Lake Erie.
“We must do all we can to keep Lake Erie healthy for the Ohioans, businesses, families, boaters, and anglers that rely on the lake,” Senator Sherrod Brown said in the news release. “Thanks to the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law and the Inflation Reduction Act, these investments will ensure that Lake Erie and its watershed are protected and maintained for today and for the next generation.”
NOAA proposed $299,000 in funding for a trash clean up program that would also serve as job training opportunities for underrepresented students in the Cleveland area.
Participants in the program would use new trash-cleaning robots to support water and beach cleanups, all while being exposed to robotics, technology and other STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) industries.
“They’re going to learn about robotics, they're going to learn about environmental literacy issues and natural resource management,” Environmental Literacy and Workforce Development Lead and NOAA Sea Grant Program Officer Joshua Brown said. “Because these are often expensive ... areas for youth to get engaged in on their own, this provides a great proving ground for them to be able to use technologies they wouldn't otherwise access.”
The administration also proposed $1.7 million in funding for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for its Chagrin River Floodplain Land Conservation Project. With the funds, ODNR would acquire 105 acres along the river bank.
The project will help conserve the floodplain, according to the news release, while also maintaining public access and recreation along the river from Willoughby to Lake Erie.
NOAA recommended $300,000 to fund a partnership between the Wisconsin and Ohio Sea Grant programs to implement a single-use plastic reduction program in Cleveland. The program would model and expand education and outreach efforts used by the Plastic-Free MKE program in Milwaukee.
Plastic-Free MKE is a volunteer coalition comprised of community members, business owners, non-profits and local agencies. The organization aims to limit single-use plastics in the city through public education initiatives and promoting the use of reusable water bottles.
The partnership aims to limit the amount of plastic that ends up in the watershed and in Lake Erie, according to the news release.
The investments will help implement solutions for climate change in Ohio and beyond NOAA Administrator Rick Spinrad said.
“Things like storing carbon or building resilience to coastal hazards such as extreme weather events or pollution or marine debris,” he said. “By restoring coastal habitats that help wildlife and humans thrive, by building the capacity of underserved communities to engage in coastal restoration.”
NOAA announced the recommended funding Friday as part of a national investment in climate-resilient initiatives.
NOAA’s work will be performed over the next three years, Assistant Administrator for NOAA Research Steven Thur said, and the administration was intentional in the recommendation of programs that support DEI principles.
Sprinrad said the announcement highlights a collaborative approach to climate-friendly programming across the country.
“As we celebrate Earth Day tomorrow (April 22), we know that this is an all-hands-on-deck moment for NOAA, for our partners across the Northeast, the Great Lakes, and for the nation,” Spinrad said. “We're bringing NOAA's climate science, resilience planning and technical expertise into communities. We are investing in America and advancing efforts to build a climate ready nation.”