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News Stream
 July 2011
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In This Issue
Georgia River Network News Stream
July 2011

News

1.    Paddle Georgia on GPB
2.    Rivers, Water Trails and Paddle Georgia featured in Georgia Trend Magazine
3.    Magnuson Ruling Overturned, Granting Atlanta a Temporary Reprieve 
4.    Athens-Clarke County Conserves 22% of Water
5.    Sierra Club Job Opening: SE Beyond Coal Campaign Director
6.    Submit Comments on EPA's Power Plant Cooling Water Ruling to Help Protect America's Rivers
7.    Water Issues in Georgia: A Survey of Public Perceptions and Attitudes about Water
8.    Union of Concerned Scientists Report: Power and Water at Risk
9.    IRS Identifies Organizations that Have Lost Tax-Exempt Status
10.    Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance
11.    “Sustainable Communities, Healthy Watersheds” 2010 Annual Report
12.    Kids to Conservation
13.    Engaging Neighbors in Urban Watersheds

Workshops/Conferences/Calendar Items
14.    Nominate a Cox Environmental Hero
15.    Webinar: Creating a Successful Email Newsletter
16.    Webinar:  Bringing Volunteerism  2.0 to Your Organization
17.    Georgia Environmental Conference

Grassroots Spotlight
18.    Savannah Riverkeeper’s Sewage-Sniffing Dog

Nonprofit Resources
19.    Nonprofit Mergers
20.    EPA Outreach Toolbox

Fundraising Deadlines
21.    Grant Opportunities
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1.    Paddle Georgia on GPB
Check out this piece Melissa Stiers with Georgia Public broadcasting put together after joining us for a week on Paddle Georgia. Click here to listen.

2.    Rivers, Water Trails and Paddle Georgia featured in Georgia Trend Magazine
Click HERE to read the article.

3.    Magnuson Ruling Overturned, Granting Atlanta a Temporary Reprieve  
Reprinted from Upper Chattahoochee Riverkeeper's RiverFLASH newsletter:

The Eleventh Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals released its decision upholding Georgia's access to Lake Lanier for water supply. This ruling is a complete reversal of a lower court ruling, known as the Magnuson decision, which had given Georgia, Alabama, and Florida until July 2012 to get Congressional authorization to use Lanier for water supply, and then to reach an agreement on the amount. This latest ruling removes the 2012 deadline for the states and instead gives the Corps of Engineers just one year to determine how to operate Buford Dam to support water supply as well as hydropower, flood control, and navigation.

Still pending is the second phase in the litigation concerning federal legal requirements to protect endangered species and other environmental uses. It’s important for citizens and river groups to continue to advocate for water conservation and healthy instream flows that protect fish, wildlife, recreation, and downstream communities, as well as metro Atlanta's drinking water.

To read the AJC story on the decision, click HERE.

For more information on the tri-state water conflict, click HERE.

To learn more about metro Atlanta's water conservation efforts over the past decade, read UCR's "Filling the Water Gap: Conservation Successes and Missed Opportunities in Metro Atlanta," click HERE.

4.    Athens-Clarke County Conserves 22% of Water

Most of us don’t think about our water bills very often. The bill comes every month and the checks we write are usually for about the same amount each month, unless there’s a leak in the house or when we’re doing lot of outdoor watering during the summer months.  But how do our water utilities decide the price we pay for water? It turns out pricing water is a lot more complicated than it seems.

Until recently, water conservation wasn’t an issue in Georgia—and often wasn’t considered by water utilities.  Surprisingly, a lot of local water utilities in our state used what was called a “declining block rate structure,” meaning the more water a resident or industry used, the cheaper the per gallon price for their water was!  This, of course, didn’t deter water waste and could help attract water intensive businesses and industry to the community.  Other communities in Georgia simply charged by the gallon: if 1000 gallons of water cost $3.50, it didn’t matter if you were using 4,000 gallons of water a month or 50,000 gallons—the price was always the same. There’s even one community in Georgia that has never metered water in people’s homes at all—they just charge water customers $15/month, regardless of how much water they use.

In 2008, the unified city-county government in Athens, Georgia decided to price water in a way that encouraged water conservation.  In light of the ongoing drought and a strict outdoor watering ban in the summer of 2007, the Athens-Clarke County (ACC) decided to price water in a way that would encourage water conservation while still helping the utility to make enough income to meet their bottom line.  The rate structure needed to be fair to all water users, and would ideally lengthen the lifetime of the existing water infrastructure in the county. A great water rate structure would reward water conservers while asking high consumers to pay a premium for the extra water they used—plus it would save the county money in the long run.

So, ACC looked to other communities in Georgia and nationwide to see how they priced their water with an eye to conservation.  After doing a little research, they chose what’s called an “inclined block rate structure” or “water conservation rate structure,” which many communities all over the country have used to significantly cut their water use.  But that decision was the easy part.  It turns out a lot of utilities in the state (including many in the metro Atlanta area that have been required to adopt conservation rate structures under the Metro Water Conservation Plan) had similar rate structures that weren’t nearly as effective as the one ACC eventually adopted.  Here’s why:

An inclined block water rate structure looks like this: a customer’s water rates increase as their water use increases. These prices are clumped together into blocks or “tiers.”  So it costs more if you’re in the tier of people who uses municipal drinking water to fill a swimming pool or water three acres of lawn than if you’re in the tier that uses that water strictly for drinking, showering, washing, flushing and laundering.  That seems pretty simple, right?

Well, it is a little more complicated than that.  It turns out that it takes a lot more planning than you would think to structure water prices in a way that will yield more efficient water use from customers. This has to do with two elements of how the rate structure is developed:

1.    How much of a cost increase there is between tiers, and
2.    Where the price breaking points between tiers lie.

For instance, over 100 water utilities in the metro Atlanta area have established incline block rate structures, but some of them have not been effective in conserving water because the cost increase between tiers isn’t high enough to make customers take notice when they open their bills every month, and/or the breaking points between tiers are at places that didn’t separate the residential conservers from the residential wasters.  ACC wanted to make sure both of these components were right based on its customer’s usage before they set their water rates.

ACC’s water conservation rate structure has been a success in the three years it’s been in effect.  The utility has made enough money to stay in business while attaining water conservation, making sure low income users can afford the service, and probably most importantly, they have been successful at educating their customers about how the pricing structure works. Since 2006, peak water demands have been reduced by about 22%, a number which exceeds ACC’s target amounts.

For more information about Athens-Clarke County’s Conservation Water Rate Structure, visit their website HERE.



5.    Sierra Club Job Opening: SE Beyond Coal Campaign Director
Click HERE for more information about the job opening.

6.    Submit Comments on EPA's Power Plant Cooling Water Ruling to Help Protect America's Rivers
As the recent nuclear meltdown at Fukushima reminded everyone, coal, nuclear and other thermoelectric power plants rely on water for cooling – and a lot of it. Each day in the U.S., some 136 billion gallons are sucked up by these power plants, accounting for approximately 53% of all fresh surface-water withdrawals and killing billions of fish and other river species.

EPA recently proposed a new ruling on power plant cooling water intake that falls  short of properly regulating these technologies. Newer technologies already in place withdraw only 10% as much water, potentially keeping 100 billion or more gallons in our rivers. You can help protect America's waterways by urging the EPA to implement a stronger cooling water rule that supports a transition to newer technologies. Click HERE for more information.

7.    Water Issues in Georgia: A Survey of Public Perceptions and Attitudes about Water
In 2009, a survey project to gauge general perceptions and attitudes about water resource issues was conducted in Georgia as part of a national water quality survey effort. The resulting report summarizes key results from the survey for the purpose of assisting outreach professionals with their efforts to engage the public about critical water resource issues that face the state. Detailed analysis and interpretation of the Georgia responses were conducted collaboratively by faculty at the University of Georgia’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, College of Environment and Design, and College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences as well as staff from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, Environmental Protection Division.

Click HERE to read the entire report.


8.    Union of Concerned Scientists Report: Power and Water at Risk
In these hot, dry summer months, we are mindful of one particular challenge: the heavy water dependence of our nation’s power sector and the risks we face when there isn’t enough water to quench power plants’ tremendous thirst. Across the U.S., in many ways, our demand for electricity is colliding with our need for healthy and abundant freshwater.

The Union of Concerned Scientists has just released a new short report on just this issue. Power and Water at Risk looks at the threats and impacts facing different regions of the country and risk reduction strategies employed to confront the energy-water collision.

Click HERE to read the report.

9.     IRS Identifies Organizations that Have Lost Tax-Exempt Status
The Internal Revenue Service recently released a listing of approximately 275,000 organizations that under the law have automatically lost their tax-exempt status because they have not filed annual reports as legally required for the past three years. If an organization appears on the list of auto-revoked organizations it is because IRS records indicate the organization has a filing requirement and has not filed the required returns or notices for 2007, 2008 and 2009.

The IRS has issued guidance on how organizations can apply for reinstatement of their tax-exempt status, including retroactive reinstatement. In addition, the IRS announced transition relief for certain smaller tax-exempt groups – those with annual gross receipts of $50,000 or less for 2010 and eligible to file Form 990-N, the e-Postcard.  The relief allows eligible revoked groups to gain retroactive tax-exempt status and pay a reduced application fee of $100 rather than the typical $400 fee. More information, including FAQs and a Fact Sheet, can be found on the IRS website.

10.    Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance  
Are you trying to protect your local rivers, save an unspoiled landscape, or build trails where everyone in your community can enjoy nature? RTCA can help.

Every year, the National Park Service helps hundreds of locally-driven projects that create opportunities for healthy outdoor recreation, connect youth with the outdoors, and connect communities to parks.  

Rivers, Trails, & Conservation Assistance from the National Park Service provides no funding, but their experienced staff can help communities plan for success. Applications for technical assistance will be accepted until August 1. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to discuss their project ideas with a staff member in your area before preparing an application.

Visit www.nps.gov/rtca for complete information and application.

11.    Sustainable Communities, Healthy Watersheds  2010 Annual Report
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's (EPA) Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds (OWOW) has released its 2010 Annual Report titled “Sustainable Communities, Healthy Watersheds”.  Sustainable Communities and Healthy Watersheds are two major themes for EPA's national water program.

The report contains information about EPA's work with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in the development of new draft guidance on Identifying Waters Protected by the Clean Water Act (also known as the Waters of the U.S. Draft Guidance), progress in better protection of water quality in Appalachia from the harmful effects of surface coal mining operations, and advancement in the work of the National Ocean Council.  The report also includes information about OWOW's response to the Deepwater Horizon/BP oil spill through data monitoring evaluation, design monitoring plans and other efforts.  Information about efforts to address nitrogen and phosphorus pollution through the development of a recommended Framework for states as well as a new guidance that addresses polluted runoff from federal land management activity in the Chesapeake Bay watershed are also included in this publication.

The report can be viewed HERE.

Click HERE for information about the Office of Wetlands, Oceans and Watersheds.

12.    Kids to Conservation
The National Park Service and UNLV Public Lands Institute are launching a website to help connect and engage kids to conservation planning.  This toolkit uses recreation as the basis for engaging kids, and gets youth involved in the planning process so that they can make a meaningful difference in their communities.  Kids to Conservation takes the important "next step" by showing kids the critical link between planning and the natural world.  Kids to Conservation identifies six learning objectives -- Education, Leadership development, Service, Exposure to conservation careers, Recreation, and Recognition -- as the foundations for engagement.  
 
The website is a fabulous tool for kids who already have some interest in the outdoors and want to take the next step toward a lifetime of service.  The website also provides information for adults about finding youth to involve in a project, finding the right age youth to work with, funding opportunities, appropriate activities for each age, and some helpful case studies.  
 
Find out more about Kids to Conservation HERE.

13.    Engaging Neighbors in Urban Watersheds
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has stepped up its efforts to protect urban waters.  Urban Waters work supports a positive cycle that begins with connection to water, which builds community engagement, leading to water quality improvement and revitalization. Find out more HERE.

14.    Nominate a Cox Environmental Hero
Atlanta’s 3rd Annual Cox Conserves Heroes program is now accepting nominations. $10,000 will be donated through the program to local environmental nonprofits.  Channel 2 WSB-TV, in partnership with The Trust for Public Land (TPL), presents Atlanta’s Cox Conserves Heroes program, which asks local residents to nominate people in their community who volunteer their time to help create, preserve or enhance outdoor places for everyone to enjoy. Eligible nominees cannot receive financial compensation for their conservation work.

Nominations are being accepted through August 12 at 5:00 p.m. To nominate an individual, visit www.wsbtv.com.

15.    Webinar: Creating a Successful Email Newsletter
Your newsletter is a tool that helps you stay engaged with your customers and prospects as well as helping you grow your business. You can strengthen your relationships and customer loyalty with an effective newsletter. Do you have an effective newsletter? Do you have a newsletter at all?

Join the VerticalResponse marketing experts as they discuss how to build a valuable newsletter.

    * Learn ways to create quality open and click rates
    * Find out tips on avoiding the spam folders
    * Explore the content you should be sending in your newsletter
    * Receive design tips to make your newsletter reader friendly
    * Learn from other VerticalResponse customers as we show off some of our favorite newsletters

The webinar will be held on Friday, July 22, 2011 1:00 PM – 2:00 PM, west coast time. Click HERE to register.

16.    Webinar: ICL’s Bringing Volunteerism 2.0 to  Your Organization
Date: 07/19/2011
Time: 3 pm
Cost: $75
Level:  Introductory, some experience with volunteers helpful
Revamp your volunteer program to benefit from highly skilled individuals in your community.  Using a new paradigm for how organizations involve volunteers, develop an action plan for taking your volunteer program to a new level (including how to address staff resistance!).  The webinar is based on ICL’s recent report: Volunteerism 2.0: Skilled Volunteers Bring New Talent to Organizations and will include a worksheet to guide your next steps.

By the end of this program, you will:

    * Know six characteristics that distinguish Volunteerism 2.0 from Volunteerism 1.0
    * Learn key organizational issues to consider when managing highly skilled volunteers
    * Develop strategies for addressing staff resistance or concerns
    * Identify next steps for your organization

Click HERE to register.
 
17.    Georgia Environmental Conference
Dates: Aug 22-24
Where: Savannah, GA
Participate with more than 100 Speakers presenting over 35 unique courses, visit with 50 exhibitors, and network with 550 environmental policymakers, regulators, enforcers, engineers, scientists, attorneys, planners, consultants, and professionals. Click HERE for more information.

18.    Savannah Riverkeeper’s Sewage-Sniffing Dog
Reprinted from The Athens Banner Herald, May 31, 2011:

The Savannah Riverkeeper’s 2-year-old Catahoula dog named Boudreaux will help the Augusta Utilities Department detect and eliminate elusive sewage leaks.

"Tracking down leaks is a huge effort," Utilities Director Tom Wiedmeier said. "Instead of having to take samples, send them to a lab and wait for results, we could have the dog find the source for us."

Augusta's storm drains and sewer lines have been modified countless times over the over the city's long history. Sewage sometimes finds its way into those drains or nearby creeks, creating health hazards and putting the city in hot water with environmental regulators.

Boudreaux is being trained by Southern K9 Solutions in Columbia County, where the same tactics used to train bomb and drug sniffing dogs will help him learn to locate even the most subtle scent of sewage.

"If he can find those leaks quicker, it could be a cost savings to the city," said Savannah Riverkeeper Tonya Bonitatibus,  whose organization is splitting the $7,000 training cost with the utilities department. "And finding leaks faster means they can be cleaned up more quickly."

Using sewage-sniffing dogs to improve environmental compliance already is being explored by the Water Environment Research Foundation through a pilot project in Santa Barbara, Calif., she said.

If the program is successful in Augusta, she hopes to use Boudreaux to help other cities and utilities in the Savannah River Basin.

"We hope it can help more places than Augusta," she said.

Currently, utilities officials use several costly methods to locate sewage outfalls that leak into storm drains or waterways.

In addition to paying for sampling and lab work, employees can spend days or weeks pumping smoke into sewer lines to see if it emerges in storm drains, which means there is a crossover of sewage.

"The benefit I see to us is that the dog could be more effective and faster at finding a problem," Wiedmeier said. "He could also make regular patrols in areas where we have problems. A preventive maintenance culture can make a huge difference."

Just this spring, Georgia's Environmental Protection Division fined the city about $45,000 for about 100 sewage spills dating back to 2004. Better compliance in the future could help avoid such penalties, he said.

Bonitatibus, meanwhile, is helping with Boudreaux’s sewage-sniffing education.
"I have samples in the fridge at the office right now," she said. "We collect it at the sewage plant - right where it comes in."

19.    Nonprofit Mergers
Each month, Jesslyn Shields, Georgia River Network’s Watershed Support Coordinator, answers a question she gets asked a lot by river group staff and boards. Here’s this month’s question:

Q: I am a board member of small, all-volunteer river group, and in the past few years, our old standby financial wells have been drying up. One grant manager even suggested a merger with another organization with a similar mission, which totally caught us off guard.  What exactly would a merger entail?

To read the answer, click HERE.
Click here for more Frequently Asked Questions.

20.    EPA Updates Its Outreach Toolbox
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has announced a significant expansion and upgrade to its NPS Outreach Toolbox, a collection of materials that are available to inspire and assist you with carrying out your own campaigns to encourage voluntary action to reduce polluted runoff.

The quality of the materials and messages ranges from excellent to awful, and EPA has not screened or tested these materials in any way. So choose your materials with care, and when in doubt, have them evaluated before you use them.

Check out the collection HERE.


21.    Fundraising Deadlines
The following foundations are either new to our list of grants or have upcoming deadlines to submit proposals. To view grant makers that give throughout the year, visit the grants page of our website HERE.
•    AEC Trust Technical Grants are made to charitable organizations seeking technical assistance. Click here for more details. Deadlines: April 1 and September 1.
•    AGL Resources support environmental stewardship projects such as clean air, conservation, & green space. Unsolicited grants are welcome but are rarely approved. Deadline: Quarterly. Click HERE for more details.
•    Ben and Jerry's Foundation provides grants ranging from $1,000 - $15,000 for grassroots organizing that leads to environmental change and addresses the root causes of environmental problems. Letters of inquiry may be submitted at any time and are reviewed three times a year. Click here for more information.
•    The mission of the Educational Foundation of America is to improve individual lives and their surroundings through education and awareness, in hopes of bettering humanity and the world we inhabit. The Foundation’s areas of interest include the environment, reproductive freedom, theatre, drug policy reform, democracy, peace and national security issues, education, medicine, and human services. Letters of inquiry may be submitted by email at any time. Visit www.efaw.org.
•    Environmental Protection Agency: Source Reduction Assistance Grant Program EPA annually awards grants and cooperative agreements under the Source Reduction Assistance (SRA) Grant Program to support pollution prevention/source reduction and/or resource conservation projects that reduce or eliminate pollution at the source. The grant program does not support projects that rely on reducing pollution by using recycling, treatment, disposal or energy recovery activities. This solicitation announces that EPA’s Regional Pollution Prevention (P2) Program Offices anticipate having up to $130,000, per region, to issue SRA awards in FY 2010. EPA will issue the awards in the form of grants and/or cooperative agreements. All funding will be awarded and managed by the EPA Regional P2 Program Offices. All of the forgoing estimates are subject to the availability of Congressional appropriations. Click HERE for more information.
•    The Home Depot Foundation makes grants to 501(c)(3) tax exempt public charities for several purposes including community cleanup. Grants typically range from $10,000 to $50,000. Preference is given to proposals that encourage volunteerism and community engagement that result in the restoration or conservation of community and wildland forests for a healthier environment that address one or both of the following: restore urban or rural forests for environmental and economic benefit using community volunteers in planting and maintenance efforts, promote sustainable forestry management to ensure responsible harvesting and use of wood resources. Proposals are accepted throughout the year, and grants are awarded four times a year. Visit www.homedepotfoundation.org.
•    The Impact Fund awards grants to non-profit legal firms, private attorneys and/or small law firms who seek to advance social justice in the areas of civil and human rights, environmental justice and/or poverty law. They seek to provide funding for public interest litigation that will potentially benefit a large number of people, lead to significant law reform, or raise public consciousness. The Impact Fund has awarded over $4 million in general and donor-advised grants, since its inception. The Impact Funds awards grants four times per year, with the average grant size being $10,000 - $15,000. The maximum grant amount awarded to any single applicant per year is $25,000. Pre-applications reviewed 4 times a year. Click HERE for more information.
•    Ittleson Foundation supports innovative pilot, model and demonstration projects that will help move individuals, communities, and organizations from environmental awareness to environmental activism by changing attitudes and behaviors. Initial letters of inquiry due by April 1st or September 1st. Click HERE for more information.
•    The Kodak American Greenways Program Grant provides “seed” grant awards to organizations that are growing our nation's network of greenways, blueways, trails and natural areas. Deadline: June 15, 2011. Click here for more information.
•    Mead Westvaco Foundation's primary focus is to enhance the quality of life in communities where MeadWestvaco has major operations and where MeadWestvaco employees and their families live and work. This includes providing direct grant support and encouraging active management and employee leadership involvement and volunteerism. Priorities for contributions in small and/or rural communities, where there are fewer sources of contributions, often address a broad range of needs. Support for urban communities is generally more targeted. Additionally, the Foundation seeks to provide leadership for advancing research, education and public dialogue on public policy issues of special interest, such as the economy, regulation and environmental stewardship. Proposals for grants are accepted throughout the year. Grants range from $250 to $10,000. Click here for more information.
•    Norcross Wildlife Foundation provides funding for equipment and publications. Grants range from $1,000 - $5,000. Visit www.norcrossws.org
•    The Jessie Smith Noyes Foundation promotes a sustainable and just social and natural system by supporting grassroots organizations and movements committed to this goal. The Foundation provides support to organizations nationwide in the following funding categories: Protecting the Health and Environment of Communities Threatened by Toxics; Advancing Environmental Justice; Promoting a Sustainable Agricultural and Food System; and Ensuring Quality Reproductive Health Care as a Human Right. Applications are accepted throughout the year. Visit www.noyes.org.
•    Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance from the National Parks Service helps partners plan successful locally-led outdoor recreation and natural resource conservation projects.  Rivers, Trails & Conservation Assistance (RTCA) staff help with partnership-building to achieve community-set goals, organizational development, assessing resources, developing concept plans, public education and participation, and identifying potential sources of funding. The project applicant may be a state or local agency, tribe, non-profit organization, or citizens' group.  Federal agencies may apply in partnership with a local organization. Applications are due by August 1, 2011 for assistance beginning the following fiscal year (October 1 through September 30).  For more information, visit www.nps.gov/ncrc/programs/rtca  
•    Techsoup - Discounted Computer Software Click on this website to purchase computer software at great prices. Must be 501c3. www.techsoup.org.


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