(Boston)—The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced $4,637,000 for eight grants focused on coastal watershed efforts in southeast Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The projects selected for grant funding are intended to identify, test, and promote effective new regional approaches in critical areas such as water monitoring, watershed planning, nutrient and/or septic management, and resilience to climate change.
These projects are funded through EPA’s Southeast New England Program (SNEP). Since its launch in 2014, SNEP’s mission has been to seek and adopt transformative environmental management. Grantees have developed projects that share innovative solutions and foster collaborative problem-solving and new approaches. One of the goals of the Southern New England Program is to make connections across projects to ensure that restoration strategies are comprehensive and sustainable, that they are informed by input from key stakeholders, and that they are connected to the economies and enhance the ecosystem services that support coastal watershed communities. The program’s geographic area encompasses the coastal watersheds from Westerly, Rhode Island to Chatham, Massachusetts, and includes Narragansett Bay and all other Rhode Island coastal waters, Buzzards Bay, and southern Cape Cod as well as the islands of Block Island, Martha’s Vineyard, and Nantucket.
“SNEP serves as a unique and exciting framework for acting holistically in a critical but very vulnerable ecosystem,” said Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator for EPA’s New England office. “The stresses challenging the coastal watersheds of Southeast New England are regional and complex. With support from his Congressional colleagues and other partners, Senator Reed’s leadership in creating this program is making a lasting difference in the way we approach environmental protection. The proof is in these eight new projects — together they reach up into the Taunton watershed and down to Rhode Island’s Salt Ponds and Aquidneck Island, cross Buzzards Bay to the middle of Cape Cod, explore septic system improvements in multiple states, and jump to Martha’s Vineyard. We see this as the way of the future for doing business.”
“We need regional solutions to protect the health and beauty of the Bay, our watershed, and coastal ecosystem. This federal funding will help the federal government and local partners take a strategic, scientific-based approach to protecting and improving the health of the Bay and the waters that feed into it,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who spearheaded efforts in Congress to establish and fund the SNEP for Coastal Watershed Restoration. Reed included a total of $7 million for SNEP programs in the 2016 Omnibus Appropriations bill, and in addition to the grants announced today, the remaining funds will be directed towards Narragansett Bay clean up.
“The health of our watershed is closely tied to our quality of life and economy in New England,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “This federal funding will help improve water quality and build resilience to the threats of climate change in Rhode Island and across the region. I am grateful to Senator Reed for his foresight in creating the Southeast New England Program to protect Rhode Island’s natural resources and coastal communities.”
“I am very proud to announce that the Environmental Protection Agency has awarded over $2.4 million in funding to five essential Massachusetts projects under the Southeast New England Program (SNEP) program. From watershed planning to water quality management and coastal resiliency needs, SNEP ensures that community stakeholders have access to critical resources to tackle these very real and time-sensitive concerns on a regional level,” said Congressman Bill Keating of Massachusetts. “These projects are on the leading edge in researching, identifying, and designing modernized and collaborative steps toward solving the water needs of Southeastern New England where we are most at risk of the consequences should they be left unaddressed. I will continue to fight for the preservation of this program with my colleagues.”
“The EPA’s Southeast New England Program provides critical funds to test cutting-edge strategies to preserve our state’s natural beauty and keep our families healthy,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “These awards reflect the innovative approaches being taken across Rhode Island and Massachusetts to address climate change, one of the greatest threats of the 21st Century. I look forward to seeing these initiatives implemented.”
“Rhode Island’s beautiful coastline, flourishing aquaculture industry, and vibrant marine ecosystem are among our state’s greatest attributes, and protecting these coastal resources is a matter of huge economic and environmental importance,” said Congressman Jim Langevin. “I’m pleased to see additional EPA funding come into the state to ensure sustainability of our watershed so that Rhode Island’s coast continues to be a source of pride for generations to come.”
“The Baker-Polito Administration is committed to assisting cities and towns in their efforts to protect and improve the environment while planning for a resilient and economically robust future,” said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. “The grants provided through the Southeast New England Program will help to support on-the-ground water quality improvement projects in our precious coastal watersheds.”
EPA’s 2016 Southeast New England Program Grants:
• Aquidneck Island Planning Commission: $996,820 for the Aquidneck Island Water Quality Initiative
• Barnstable County Department of Health and Environment and Massachusetts Alternative Septic System Test Center: $728,511 for Assessment of Non-Proprietary Passive Nitrogen Removing Septic Systems
• Association to Preserve Cape Cod: $472,574 for Assessment of Non-Proprietary Passive Nitrogen Removing Septic Systems
• Massachusetts Audubon Society: $560,636 for Integrating Ecosystem Services Functions and Values into Land-Use Decision Making in the Narragansett Bay Watershed
• Town of Charlestown, RI: $674,201 for Charlestown Coastal Watershed Protection and Restoration Program
• The Ecosystem, Center, Marine Biological Laboratory: $402,461 for Assessing Climate Effects on Watershed and Stormwater Nitrogen Loading and Vulnerabilities in Meeting TMDLs in Buzzards Bay and Cape Cod
• Wampanoag Tribe of Aquinnah: $275,790 for Tribal Common Lands Ecological Enhancements and Resiliency Project
• The University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth– School for Marine Science and Technology: $525,967 for Quantifying Potential for Oyster Aquaculture and Impacts on Estuarine Nitrogen-Related Water Quality