Nonprofits: DuPage support helps water flow
Updated: September 10, 2012 4:40PM
WHEATON — For many years, collaborations between DuPage County’s Stormwater Management Department and local nonprofits have brought myriad benefits for the region’s streams and waterways. Representatives from two of the agencies ran down some of them in presentations Sept. 4 to the county stormwater committee.
Kay McKeen and her coworkers at School and Community Assistance for Recycling and Composting Education stayed busy over the summer with some of the projects made possible in part with county support. SCARCE receives nearly one-quarter of its government funding, some $60,000, from a state-mandated allocation in the annual budget of the county’s Stormwater Management Department.
McKeen, the organization’s founder and president, reported that among the season’s endeavors was a 5 1/2-day teacher workshop in June that had educators scrutinizing native plants, sampling stream water and touring the Elmhurst quarry and the headquarters of the DuPage Water Commission.
The Glen Ellyn environmental advocacy organization also shared information about watershed protection with visitors to the Morton Arboretum in late July, and met again with teachers last month to show them how to build models demonstrating groundwater flow, and use them as teaching tools.
And at an Aug. 18 training at the arboretum, representatives of SCARCE and the Naperville-based Conservation Foundation focused on wetland restoration, spotlighting its links to clean surface water.
Brook McDonald, president/CEO of the Naperville-based Conservation Foundation, noted that its decade of partnership with DuPage has given rise to a variety of productive projects. Among the achievements of the dozen-plus contract activities, McDonald said, are programs such as Conservation@Home, which has reached some 7,500 people through 340 presentations; the Mighty Acorns educational initiative for school children; distribution of more than 8,000 rain barrels; and establishment of the informational website dupagerivers.org.
Also accomplished with new gusto over the past decade has been the long-popular River Sweep, which since the two entities teamed up has yielded some 72 tons of trash, the donation of 14,000 volunteer hours and the restoration of 12 acres of wetlands.
McDonald also noted that the $690,000 provided through the county contract has been leveraged to secure another $1.96 million in grant support, plus $539,000 from the DuPage River/Salt Creek Workgroup and about $65,000 in other donations.
“For every dollar that you kick in, that helps us generate almost $4 from other sources,” McDonald said.
The presentations left an apparent impression on the committee members. Bill Bedrossian said the foundation’s successes underscore the potential in expanding the reach of nonprofits through governmental and private partnerships.
“That really is the model that works, and you’ve demonstrated that,” he said.
Committee chairman James Zay agreed the collaboration has proved a win-win.
“We get a lot of work done for the environment in our communities,” he said.