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Economic Benefits of Urban Creek Cleaning

Restorationists and environmentalists are placing their focus on urban streams and creeks, which struggle with urban pollution. Working to clean them up is turning out to be a good way to create jobs and stimulate the local economy.
June 13, 2009, 5am PDT | Nate Berg
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Like many urban areas, a handful of towns in the San Francisco Bay Area have these creeks and streams running through, and pollution has been a major problem. For years it was a problem that was virtually ignored. But now it's starting to make economic sense to pay a little more attention to protection of these water sources.

"Today, however, a new generation of Bay Area restorationists is working with renewed vigor to mobilize poor residents around their local waterways, on the premise that improving the local environment can also stimulate the local economy. In spite of the recent downturn, there are hints at federal, state and local levels of a sweeping green jobs initiative. It's a bold attempt to reconcile key ecological principles with the functions of the marketplace.

From an ecological standpoint, it couldn't be happening at a more critical time. In February, more than two dozen Bay Area streams were found to be in violation of the Clean Water Act. Collectively, these small streams have become a massive conveyor belt, sending vast quantities of trash and toxins into the Bay and Pacific Ocean.

The Urban Creeks Council, one of the region's most prominent groups, has taken a wide-scale approach to its troubled waterways, creating a comprehensive restoration plan for Wildcat and San Pablo creeks. Funded by a four-year, $750,000 state and federal grant, the proposal includes restoration of greenbelted stream channels and removal of invasive plants, not to mention summer jobs for local high schoolers."

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Published on Monday, June 1, 2009 in High Country News
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