I want to share with you one of my favorite things about being the Executive Director of the Geos Institute. It’s the day I get to help select the winners of Drinking Water Providers Partnership grants.
In the fall of each year, we work with our partners in the Drinking Water Providers Partnership to issue a call for proposals for projects that restore watersheds that provide drinking water for communities in Oregon and Washington. Applicants are partnerships that include local water utilities, federal agencies, and often, local watershed councils. The projects put forward are required to improve both drinking water sources and native fish habitat.
Applications arrive by early January and then the fun begins! Each of the partner organizations assigns a representative to review and score the applications before meeting to combine scores, discuss the merits of each proposal, and come up with the final list of grant awards. I’m fortunate to represent Geos Institute in this process.
It gets a bit tricky because the funding being distributed is from three federal agencies (Forest Service, BLM, and Environmental Protection Agency) and two state agencies (Washington Department of Health and Oregon Department of Environmental Quality). We are joined by The Freshwater Trust and Wild Earth Guardians as the three nonprofits involved in the program and selection process. It takes some work to figure out what is being funded by what pot of money, but eventually we get the money spent – invested really – on very important watershed restoration projects.
The day we choose the grant winners is far and away one of my favorite days of the year. Not only do I get to see the many partnerships that have developed over the past five years of the program – partnerships that were very rare before that – but I also get to see the community spirit of the people who are working together across historical divides to improve the watersheds that bring them clean drinking water and protect habitat for native species. And, I get to roll up my sleeves alongside truly wonderful people whose life work is dedicated to the rivers and communities of the Pacific Northwest.
I remember when the Drinking Water Providers Partnership was just a twinkle in the eye of Brian Barr (from Geos Institute) and Jim Capurso from the Forest Service. It is deeply satisfying to see what we have accomplished over these past 7 years and to look forward to what is yet to come.
We will formally announce the winners of this year’s grant competition later in the spring. In the meantime, you can see a map of the previous five years of funded projects here.
Learn more about the Drinking Water Providers Partnership.
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