231639 Using EPA-provided tools to address water quality issues in communities with environmental justice concerns

Tuesday, November 9, 2010 : 8:40 AM - 9:00 AM

Christine Canaly , San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council, Alamosa, CO
Ecologic studies consistently demonstrate that communities of color who are economically disadvantaged experience poor health outcomes relative to the general population. In support of these efforts the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a number of grants designed for community groups who are working to ameliorate these detrimental environmental conditions. Rural communities also face the added burden of access to environmental health resources to assess environmental risks. The San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council (SLVEC) in Alamosa, CO, is the recipient of two EPA grant programs. The Collaborative Problem Solving Grant brought together businesses, environmental groups, educational institutions, government entities, and public health personnel to discuss the design of the program. Volunteers attended health fairs in all six Valley counties, and provided educational materials, both Spanish and English. Educational forums took place in thirteen Valley communities in the summer of 2009, discussing various health threats posed from contamination of private household wells. Participants were instructed how to take water samples. The Environmental Justice Small Grants program provided funding so households could receive free water testing. Test results were centralized in a database, and GIS points were used to map each well that was tested. This information forms a baseline to show areas of the Valley that may pose health threats due to water contamination. All materials, including mapping results, are provided to public health care professionals. SLVEC believes that environmental health is the foundation for public health, and this data helps lay that groundwork.

Learning Areas:
Environmental health sciences
Public health or related research

Learning Objectives:
1)The audience will be able to discuss how communities are empowered to conduct their own research. 2)The audience will be able to describe how the environmental justice small grants programs enables research to address environmental justice. 3)The audience will be able to identify communities’ who foster partnerships with state and local government entities.

Keywords: Environmental Justice, Environmental Health

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: Christine Canaly is the chair of the board of trustees for the San Luis Valley Water Protection Coalition and the director of San Luis Valley Ecosystem Council.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.