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2018 Camden Environmental Summit focuses on parks, flooding

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Cooper's Ferry President Kris Kolluri, Dr. Steven Fine, teacher at Dr. Charles Brimm Medical Arts High School, former governor Jim Florio and Mayor Frank Moran at the Camden Environmental Summit. Credits: City of Camden
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Camden, NJ—Plans to eliminate combined sewage flooding in the City of Camden along with the city’s commitment to provide high-quality parks within a 10-minute walk of every Camden resident were on the agenda at the 2018 Camden Environmental Summit.

The summit was hosted by the Camden Collaborative Initiative [CCI] on Wednesday, June 6 at the Rutgers-Camden Campus Center. Presented by New Jersey American Water, the sixth annual Summit attracted more than 200 residents, environmental leaders, advocates and stakeholders from the public, private and non-profit sectors.

The CCI is comprised of seven working groups that focus on air quality, environmental justice, brownfields, waste and recycling, health and wellness, stormwater management and environmental education.

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It’s led by the City of Camden, New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection [NJDEP], United States Environmental Protection Agency [EPA], Cooper's Ferry Partnership, Camden County Municipal Utilities Authority [CCMUA] and the United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey.

“Every community deserves access to a clean and safe water supply. We must invest in updating our aging water infrastructure to improve our communities and add high-skilled, high-wage jobs,” said U.S. Rep. Donald Norcross. “The only path forward for our country is to build a 21st century clean-energy economy.”

The CCI’s goal is to eliminate combined sewage flooding in the City of Camden by 2020.

The day-long summit also featured a panel on Camden’s parks and waterways, which spotlighted efforts to strengthen Camden through strategic, collaborative, and dynamic investments in its parks, waterways, and waterfronts. Over the past five years, more than $10 million has been invested in the expansion and revitalization of the City’s park system, with an additional $50 million to come in the next five years.

“Studies show that cities with a lot of well-connected green spaces are more resilient to extreme environmental events, such as heat waves and extreme rainfall,” said Kris Kolluri, president and CEO of Cooper’s Ferry Partnership. “Parks and other urban green spaces also enhance community vibrancy and economic development, generating a value of up to $6.8 billion annually nationwide.”

Mayor Frank Moran was on-hand to deliver his first annual “Sustainability Address.”

“Through the energy of many dynamic partnerships and collaborations, Camden is rising, becoming stronger, and righting environmental wrongs of the past — which are substantial but by no means unsurmountable,” said the mayor.

Mayor Moran also recognized recipients of Camden’s 2018 Environmental Hero Awards, which included Olivia Glenn of the NJDEP’s Division of Parks and Forestry; the City of Camden Department of Public Works; Monsignor Michael Doyle, pastor of Sacred Heart Church; PowerCorps Camden; and Dr. Steven Fine, teacher at Dr. Charles Brimm Medical Arts High School.

CCI serves as a model for proactive, voluntary, and urban environmental enhancement partnerships. Since its creation, CCI has transformed a five-acre contaminated waterfront parcel into a public park; cleaned and secured the state of New Jersey’s largest urban illegal dumping hotspot; engaged 30 Camden City high school students in the Green Jobs Summer Ambassadors Program; constructed 50 green infrastructure projects that capture 62 million gallons of stormwater runoff every year; and facilitated the City’s Sustainable Jersey Silver certification.

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