The World Resources Institute wants to finance projects that will protect Northern Kentucky's water

Got an idea on how to protect Northern Kentucky’s rivers and streams?

It could be worth $100,000.

The World Resources Institute, a global organization dedicated to promoting the environment, wants to support projects to protect the region’s watersheds and is making grant money available to worthy programs.

The organization has issued a formal request for proposals for watershed stewardship projects. The projects must be located in Boone, Kenton, or Campbell counties and must break ground in 2020, preferably earlier in the year.

The group says the projects must be led by organizations with a strong track record of work in Northern Kentucky.

The application deadline is Dec. 6 at noon.

The Washington, D.C.-based Institute works with communities around the world on strategies to manage their watersheds. Its experts work on analyzing how “green infrastructure” like forests, floodplains, and soils can be used to protect drinking water. They also study how green infrastructure can be integrated with traditional infrastructure such as dams, treatment systems, and pipes to provide clean, reliable water and protection against floods and drought.

“Northern Kentucky is an interesting place for these topics because its water-related challenges are characteristic of problems faced by many communities in the U.S.,” said Suzanne Ozment, a senior associate at WRI.

“Northern Kentucky’s watersheds are experiencing erosion and increased levels of surface runoff, which can pollute waterways and cause flooding. We’re interested in seeing how the local community would tackle these challenges using techniques like restoring or protecting forests and wetlands, or installing parks, bioswales and rain gardens.”

Hundreds of miles of streams abound in the three-county community, and collectively they drain more than 500 square miles of land, according to the region’s main water utility, Sanitation District 1.

The Licking River is a major watershed that begins in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky and meanders northwest until it meets the Ohio River. The Licking watershed drains 3,600 square miles of the state and more than 250,000 Kentuckians rely on the river for drinking water, SD1 says.

The region’s major watershed is the Ohio River, which spans 13 states, with more than 25 million people living within its drainage area.

“We hope to identify innovative approaches that can work locally and inspire strong community support,” Ozment says.

The World Resources Institute was founded in 1982 with a $15 million grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation of Chicago. The group was formed to respond to concerns that emerged in the ‘60s and ‘70s, such as deforestation and climate change, that were not being adequately addressed.

The founders created a science- and evidence-based organization to carry out policy research and analysis on global environmental and resource issues and then use that research to create change on the ground.

It is currently funding a forest restoration project in California that is designed to reduce forest fires, which can damage water quality in surrounding rivers and streams.

Some other current projects it is supporting include an initiative to restore 100 million hectares of deforested land in Africa and a program to reduce emissions and air pollution in Beijing.


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