Carol Cox is the grant compliance specialist at PRIDE, which works to clean up rivers and stop illegal dumping of trash in Kentucky.

Monday, 27 Nov 2000

SOMERSET, Ky.

Today, I want to give you some background information about Personal Responsibility In a Desirable Environment (PRIDE). Rep. Harold “Hal” Rogers (R-Ky.) and James Bickford, the cabinet secretary of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection in Kentucky, announced the PRIDE initiative in the summer of 1997. PRIDE is the first comprehensive, region-wide, local/state/federal cooperative effort designed to address the serious challenge of cleaning up the sewage and garbage in southern and eastern Kentucky’s rivers and streams, ending illegal trash dumps and promoting environmental awareness and education while renewing pride in the region.

Down in the dumps: a dumpsite at Cargill.

The two main pollution sources in our region are straight pipe sewage discharge and illegal dumping of trash. A total of 1,996 illegal dumps were mapped in the 40-county PRIDE region. Many people, because of lack of money to install a septic tank, use a straight pipe to rid their homes of sewage, which pollutes nearby streams. Straight pipe sewage discharge has become a major source of water pollution in our region, impacting the health and quality of life for everyone in southern and eastern Kentucky. Throughout the region, a total of 36,319 straight pipes and failing septic systems have been mapped. As a result, PRIDE established a Septic System Loan fund to help homeowners install health department approved septic systems at these homes. Thanks to PRIDE, approximately 2,680 households now have functional septic systems or are hooked up to city sewer lines.

We have also established a PRIDE Community Grant Program to provide funds for environmental improvement projects. The program awards grants of up to $5,000 for local clean up activities, appliance buy-back programs, recycling programs, the purchase of certain equipment, and other environmental restoration projects. These grants are awarded once a year to city and county governments, environmental advocacy groups, and civic and community organizations. The program was established in July 1998 and has since allocated over $5,624,129 in grant funds. To date, PRIDE Community Grant funds have been used to clean up 610 illegal dumps and 123 miles of streams; purchase 132 pieces of recycling equipment and 29 video surveillance cameras; and fund 28 white appliance buy-backs, one hazardous materials drop-off, and five watershed watch programs.

The same site as above, all cleaned up.

We’re in the process of developing a new Community Grant initiative called SuperGrants. These grants, to be awarded next spring, will be used to cleanup massive dumpsites.

PRIDE developed an Environmental Education Grant Program in November of 1998 and has released over $880,252 in grant funds. This program provides funds for environmental education projects. These grants of up to $5,000 are available for constructing outdoor classrooms, establishing recycling programs, purchasing curriculum materials, and other environmental education outlets. To date, PRIDE Environmental Education Grant funds have been used to construct 119 outdoor classrooms, establish 14 school recycling programs, purchase eight EnviroScape learning tools, one recycling robot, and resources for Project WET/WILD/Learning Tree.

Project Clean Streams is PRIDE’s latest environmental education initiative. The program was developed to teach our youth how water resources affect our health and economic development. PRIDE provided water testing kits and educator training to all schools willing to participate. Students from across our region collected fecal coliform samples for analysis.

A group of volunteers with Rep. Rogers.

PRIDE also provides resources for water and wastewater infrastructure needed to eliminate water pollution problems through the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Section 531 Program. This program offers grants to communities, counties and other public entities for wastewater treatment projects that include traditional sewage treatment facilities and innovative wastewater treatment methods such as wetlands, sand filtration systems, cluster holding systems, and others.

PRIDE’s approach is to work on a regional level to solve problems. PRIDE has asked that every citizen in the 40 county region become involved in this effort to help clean up southern and eastern Kentucky. As a result, over 31,684 people have worked more than 123,096 hours on PRIDE cleanup events. The success of the PRIDE initiative is dependent upon residents working together to make Kentucky a cleaner, healthier place to live.