Online Voting Picks 4 to Win $10,000 Watershed Grants

MillerCoors and River Network, a national non-profit organization focused on water quality, recently announced the recipients of four $10,000 grants that will go toward local watershed protection programs.

The four winning organizations, all located in states where MillerCoors has breweries, were chosen by the public through an online voting competition in which more than 11,000 people voted.

“These grants will provide investment and support to local organizations that focus on watershed quality, education, and conservation efforts in their communities,” said Kim Marotta, vice president of corporate social responsibility at MillerCoors.

“River Network is inspired by the ability of our local partners to tackle the biggest environmental challengers of our time ,and we’re especially grateful to MillerCoors for helping to make this work possible,” said River Network President Ezra Milchman. “The outpouring of interest and support for each of the finalists shows the enthusiasm of the public to get involved and their desire to see on the ground action.”

Details for the four winners’ proposals follow:

Friends of the Lower Olentangy Watershed; Columbus, Ohio
The Lower Olentangy Watershed stretches through urban neighborhoods into the heart of downtown Columbus. By increasing stormwater infiltration and improving on-site stormwater management, Friends of the Lower Olentangy will create a cost-effective solution to flooding, stream bank erosion, and sanitary sewer overflows. Project partners will create an urban stormwater management demonstration site in Columbus, including water collection and rain gardens to decrease polluted runoff. The demonstration will kick off an outreach campaign to churches, schools, small businesses, and public officials, with the goal of activating 10 similar projects by 2012.

Little Tennessee Watershed Association; Franklin, N.C.:
Water quality in the Little Tennessee basin is an issue that affects the health of an entire community of 80,000 people that spans three counties in rural North Carolina. The Little Tennessee Watershed Association’s participatory habitat assessment will educate and involve the public in river habitat issues as well as effect long-term watershed protection policy change. The program will provide field training for local volunteers to carry out physical habitat assessments on stream reaches and will place a premium on the local knowledge of area residents.

Milwaukee Riverkeeper; Milwaukee, Wis.:
It is often difficult to determine concisely and accurately the quality of water in the Milwaukee River Basin. Milwaukee Riverkeeper will train local volunteers to test water quality in the river as part of a larger initiative focused on achieving maximum improvement in water quality through the efforts of local environmental programs and projects. The funds will be used to purchase water quality monitoring equipment for volunteers who will gather consistent data throughout the Milwaukee River Basin. The data will identify the current state of local waterways and thus create management plans for watershed restoration.

Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper; Statesboro, Ga.:
Through the implementation of the new volunteer fish collection program in eastern Georgia, the Ogeechee-Canoochee Riverkeeper and its volunteers will verify the current levels of mercury in fish, educate the public about mercury contamination and its sources, and engage people in the effort to prevent future mercury pollution.

MillerCoors has designated water conservation as one of its key sustainable development commitments. It engages in its own water initiatives and constantly strives to reduce the amount of water used to brew its beer.

MillerCoors partnered with River Network to leverage its network of more than 700 local, state, and regional partners to create or expand programs that will impact and protect watersheds on a local level. Eight finalists were chosen for the grant competition; while the four winners will each receive $10,000, the remaining finalists will each receive $1,000 toward their organization’s watershed programs.