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Our Mission

Explore. Contribute. Connect.

The Nebraska Master Naturalist Program is a public and private partnership supported by the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Nebraska Environmental Trust, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission and Nebraska Master Naturalist Foundation. Our program recruits, trains, manages, and provides resources for our Naturalist members participating in interpretation and outreach, resource management, citizen science, and outdoor skills and recreation in Nebraska.

Photo by Adrian Olivera

Our Impact to Date Since 2010

  • Trained Master Naturalists

    650

  • Volunteer Hours

    107,693

  • Volunteer Projects

    8,700

  • Impact Value

    $3,216,839

News & Notes

WASHINGTON — Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced a $340 million financing commitment to upgrade the City of Philadelphia’s aging drinking water infrastructure, including replacing customers’ lead service lines. This Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act (WIFIA) low-interest loan will jumpstart the work to modernize the drinking water system with an initial investment of nearly $20 million.

“At EPA, we’re committed to ensuring access to clean, safe water for all. Thanks to the Biden-Harris Administration’s historic investment in water infrastructure upgrades, we’re delivering on that commitment for communities across this nation,” said EPA Administrator Michael S. Regan. “With the funds announced today, the City of Philadelphia will be able to upgrade its aging system for the 1.6 million people that depend on it, ensuring no one has to worry about access to safe, affordable drinking water.”

The announcement was made by President Biden, Vice President Harris and Administrator Regan at an event in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to highlight the progress we have made and the Administration’s work implementing the Biden-Harris economic and environmental agenda that continues to deliver results for the American people.

Portions of the City of Philadelphia’s drinking water systems are approaching the end of their useful life and need significant upgrades to continue to deliver clean and safe water to the residents of Philadelphia. With this announcement, EPA is committing over $340 million in WIFIA financing to the city. The initial loan of $19.8 million will modernize critical drinking water infrastructure by replacing approximately 160 lead service lines and 15 miles of watermains throughout the city.

“This commitment will provide an immense boost to Philadelphia’s ongoing efforts to ramp up water main replacement and help sustain our recently launched 25-year, multibillion-dollar Water Revitalization Plan, investments that will result in direct health and safety benefits for all Philadelphians,” said Philadelphia Water Department Commissioner Randy E. Hayman. “Replacing miles of water mains in these neighborhoods will also strengthen our campaign to replace customers’ lead service lines as we renew and improve the City’s infrastructure. This represents the biggest investment in drinking water infrastructure in a generation, and we would not be able to do this work without this level of federal investment.”

The Biden-Harris Administration has committed to revitalizing the nation’s water and wastewater infrastructure to ensure every community has access to clean, safe and reliable drinking water, wastewater and stormwater services. In addition to WIFIA loans and other federally funded programs, the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law is making a historic $50 billion investment in water infrastructure and allocates $15 billion specifically for lead service line replacement and removal. To date, more than $4.7 billion of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law funding has been invested through the State Revolving Funds to support states, Tribes and territories in improving water infrastructure.



By financing this first project with a WIFIA loan, EPA estimates the City of Philadelphia will save approximately $4 million. Construction and operation under this first loan are estimated to create approximately 100 jobs.

Background 

Established by the Water Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act of 2014, the WIFIA program is a federal loan and guarantee program administered by EPA. The WIFIA program’s aim is to accelerate investment in the nation’s water infrastructure by providing long-term, low-cost supplemental credit assistance for regionally and nationally significant projects. 

The WIFIA program has an active pipeline of projects that will result in billions of dollars in water infrastructure investment and thousands of jobs. With this loan closing, EPA’s WIFIA program has announced 97 loans that are providing $17 billion in credit assistance to help finance $36 billion for water infrastructure while creating 122,000 jobs and saving ratepayers over $5 billion. 

EPA is currently accepting letters of interest for WIFIA and SWIFIA loans. In June, EPA announced the availability of $5.5 billion under the 2022 WIFIA Notice of Funding Availability and an additional $1 billion under the SWIFIA program. Together, this newly available funding will support more than $13 billion in water infrastructure projects while creating more than 40,000 jobs.

EPA Region 7 Deputy Administrator Edward Chu presents Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert with a ceremonial check for nearly $30 million, joined by other officials. (Photo credit: U.S. EPA)

LENEXA, KAN. (FEB. 3, 2023) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 7 and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) presented ceremonial checks worth $34.3 million to the City of Omaha, Nebraska, to protect children from lead at homes in the city.

EPA awarded $29.9 million celebrating the renewal of a seven-year, $29.9 million cooperative agreement that enables the city to perform remedial activities within the Omaha Lead Superfund Site, including cleaning up contaminated yards. HUD presented $4.4 million the City of Omaha to address interior lead-based paint.

EPA Region 7 Deputy Administrator Edward Chu and Michelle Miller, deputy director of HUD’s Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes, joined Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert to celebrate the agreements that highlight a whole-of-government approach to removing lead from the environment at homes where our children spend much of their time. There is no safe level of lead exposure for children.

“The partnership between EPA and the City of Omaha has reduced lead in the environment by remediating lead-contaminated soil and removing exterior lead-based paint from properties within the Omaha Lead Superfund Site,” said EPA Region 7 Administrator Meg McCollister. “Renewing our cooperative agreement with the city helps continue to ensure that the children and citizens of Omaha are protected from the dangers associated with lead exposure.”

"Even though lead-based paint was in fact banned many years ago in residential housing, its harmful legacy remains, said HUD Region 7 Administrator Ulysses Clayborn. With today's funding from HUD and through our continuing interagency coordination with EPA, the city of Omaha will be able to continue its ongoing work with medical and social service providers to substantively address lead and other health hazards.

“Every child, every family, should live in a safe and healthy environment,” Mayor Stothert said. “We have made tremendous progress in Omaha; however, children are still at risk. The continuation of our cooperative agreement with the EPA makes safer and healthier homes for families and children possible.”

Omaha was once home to a large lead smelter and lead battery recycling plant that are estimated to have released more than 400 million pounds (200,000 tons) of lead particles into the environment. Much of that ended up in residential areas within the 27 square miles of downtown Omaha where the lead processing facilities operated.

The Record of Decision for the Omaha Lead Superfund Site includes remediation of lead-impacted soil from historic smelting and lead processing activities at the site. The remedy also includes exterior lead-based paint stabilization, which was included to protect the soil remedy at the site.

HUD presented the city with approximately $4.4 million in combined grants through HUD’s Lead-Based Paint and Lead Hazard Reduction and Healthy Homes Program. These funds will enable the city to address interior lead-based paint hazards in 160 housing units, providing safer homes for low-income families with children.

Also in attendance were officials from the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) and the Douglas County Health Department (DCHD). EPA and DCHD have a separate cooperative agreement in place to provide DCHD with funding for the county’s free blood lead screening services, indoor lead screening, and education and outreach to medical professionals within the site boundary.

Learn more about the Omaha Lead Superfund Site.

Learn more about the City of Omaha’s Lead Hazard Programs.

Learn more about Douglas County’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

Read more about HUD’s Healthy Homes Program.

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Learn more about EPA Region 7

View all Region 7 news releases

Connect with EPA Region 7 on Facebook

Follow us on Twitter: @EPARegion7

CHICAGO (February 3, 2023) – Today, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency began a 31-day public comment period on a determination that the Detroit metropolitan area has attained the health-based air quality standard for ground level ozone, or smog. This determination is based on an analysis from the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes and Energy (EGLE) that high ozone values in June 2022 were caused by wildfires. EPA is also taking comment on the state’s analysis.

EGLE’s analysis relies on meteorological data, modeling of air mass trajectories, comparisons to historical data, and measurements of brown carbon and black carbon, or soot. Considered together, the analysis concludes that high smog values measured at an air monitor in Wayne County on June 24 and 25, 2022, were caused by Canadian wildfires. Under EPA rules, wildfire impacts may be excluded when calculating attainment of the smog standard.

The air quality data now show that the Detroit area meets the federal smog standard. Air quality that shows attainment of the standard is one of the requirements for areas to receive formal air quality “attainment” status under the Clean Air Act.

 Comments may be submitted at Regulations.gov (search for docket number EPA-R05-OAR-2023-0058) or via email to arra.sarah@epa.gov until March 6. For comments submitted at Regulations.gov, follow the online instructions for submitting comments.

Additional information about the proposal can be found on EPA’s website.

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Photo by Allison Dush
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