Ogden gets $1 million grant for river restoration

Oct 20 2010 - 4:41pm

OGDEN -- The state Water Quality Board awarded the city $1 million today to further its efforts to clean up a polluted 1.1 mile section of the Ogden River.

Justin Anderson, the city's engineer, Mayor Matthew Godfrey and Public Services Director Jay Lowder pitched the request to the board in person and were granted the money on the spot.

"I was taken back by the generosity of the water quality board and to find out how supportive they are of this project," said Anderson. "We are very thankful for their support and to their staff as well."

The goal of the project is to stabilize the riverbanks, improve water flow, provide aquatic food sources and offer pedestrian access points.

Vegetation is being planted to buffer pollution sources, reduce channel temperatures and provide aquatic food sources.

Interior flood planes are being created, riverbanks are being stabilized and recreation access is being provided, such as the construction of a public viewing area on the south side of the Ogden River off Childs Avenue.

Leah Ann Lamb, assistant director of the Utah Division of Water Quality, said the water quality board toured the project site in August and was very impressed.

"A tremendous amount of effort is going on," Lamb said, adding the board will not provide any additional funding for the project. "The city has been a consummate professional."

The city still has to raise another $1 million to complete the project that extends from Kiesel Avenue to west of Gibson Avenue by late 2011, Anderson said.

Work began earlier this year and is about half complete. The total cost will be more than $5 million, said Anderson.

In addition to the $1 million awarded Wednesday, the water quality board has already provided about $1.1 million in federal stimulus funds. The Central Weber Sewer Improvement District has contributed $825,000 and an additional $800,000 is coming from city stormwater improvement bonds. Weber County and the Habitat Council have each contributed $100,000 and Blue Ribbon Fisheries gave about $50,000.

Documents submitted by the city to the water quality board indicate a "quiet, private" public awareness and fundraising campaign is being developed in cooperation with America First Credit Union. Officials with America First could not be reached for comment Wednesday regarding fundraising plans.

The effort is slated to include educational information about the river restoration effort in the credit union's branches throughout the region.

The Northern Wasatch Association of Realtors plans to sponsor fundraising celebrations to recognize supporters of the project. Robert Kennedy Jr. has accepted an invitation to visit the site once work is completed, according to documents from the city.

In addition, professors and students from Weber State University, Brigham Young University and Utah State University have toured the site and are developing multiple approaches to support the restoration effort through long-term monitoring, weed management and undergraduate- and graduate-level research projects.

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