Begin ANEW is a project that reconnects neighborhoods with wildlife and provides several environmental benefits including pollution reduction, increased biodiversity, water quality improvements, drinking water protection, and water quantity reduction.
Begin ANEW addresses stormwater problems while enhancing wildlife and green spaces within highly urbanized regions. Property to take part in the program can be private, residential, commercial, industrial, or public. Projects include rain gardens, community gardens, tree plantings, and conservation landscaping. Environment Erie is working to provide the program at a cost to landowners and buy in from municipalities that wish to participate in the program.
The municipalities Environment Erie is working with to implement Begin ANEW include Millcreek Township and the City of Erie. These are two of the most urbanized municipalities within Erie County. Urbanized municipalities within Erie County are required to meeting MS-4 (Municipal Separate Storm Sewer Systems) permit requirements through the Department of Environmental Protection. This is a permit that requires municipalities to manage, educate and monitor stormwater pollution within their boundaries. This project is to establish the Begin ANEW program as a method for municipalities to meet permit requirements, while increasing wealth and prosperity among their communities. Since the permits require such activities and municipalities are in need of resources to implement requirements, we feel the program will become very sustainable once established. Resources of a staff person to work on the specifics of implementing the program within the municipalities is needed to establish the program.
The goals and objectives of the project are:
- To work with project partners to lay the groundwork for project sustainability within municipalities stormwater management procedures; this model can benefit other Pennsylvania communities and citizens
- Demonstrate that education, cooperation and new smart sustainable policies that include green infrastructure can restore habitat, biodiversity and water quality and also protect areas not yet developed in the Lake Erie Watershed.
Outcomes of the project include:
- Implement three stormwater management demonstration projects
- Established policies and procedures for implementing the program within municipalities
- Education of students and general public through Times News in Education pages throughout the year (over 6000 students weekly read this section)
Why does Lake Erie need stormwater pollution protection?
Stormwater is one of the major stressors on an aquatic environment. It carries pollutants, increases temperature, causes flooding and increases erosion. Our local environment attracts millions of visitors a year if you take Presque Isle State Park, businesses are attracted here by the Lake resources, and families locate and relocate here because of our natural resources. Stormwater is an urban issue that can be solved with programs like Begin ANEW.
We are modeling the Begin ANEW program and our organization growth activities off of similar programs such as: