Providence, Rhode Island – The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) are pleased to announce that more than $815,000 in grants will fund eleven projects aimed at protecting and restoring water quality in the Narragansett Bay watershed.
These grants will support municipalities and nonprofit agencies, in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts, with a focus on projects to address nutrients, pathogens, and stormwater. These grants are funded through the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), specifically EPA’s Southeast New England Program for Coastal Watershed Restoration. The Southeast New England Program brings together partnerships to protect and restore the coastal watersheds of southeast New England from Westerly, Rhode Island to Chatham, Massachusetts, including Narragansett Bay and all other Rhode Island coastal waters, Buzzards Bay, and southern Cape Cod.
“The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is very pleased to award grants to municipalities and nonprofit organizations who are taking concrete steps to help protect and restore the water quality in the Narragansett Bay watershed,” said Judith Swift, chair of the Estuary Program’s Management Committee. “We also are pleased to applaud the leadership of Senator Jack Reed who spearheaded this program to focus on the coastal watersheds of southern New England.”
“The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program’s grants will fund important projects in the Narragansett Bay watershed—both in Massachusetts and Rhode Island,” said Ron Poltak, NEIWPCC’s executive director. “As host of the Program, we look forward to advancing the important work of the diverse partners in protecting this vital coastal resource.”

The funded projects this year are summarized below:

 The Town of Avon, Massachusetts, is examining stormwater pollution to an important local waterway – Trout Brook. The Town of Avon relies on multiple groundwater sources and the Town’s wells rely exclusively on the recharge of stormwater as the source of fresh water. They will assess potential contributions to the impairments in the Trout Brook watershed, including examining stormwater outfalls that discharge directly into Trout Brook. The analysis will include land-use surveys within the five largest catchment areas and water quality sampling to assess discharges to Trout Brook. The project will also include preliminary design of stormwater projects for nutrient and pathogen removal. ($24,000)

 The Town of Barrington, Rhode Island, is collecting water quality and sediment data and designing green infrastructure projects in and around Brickyard Pond to address water quality impairments. Connected to Narragansett Bay through Mussachuck Creek, Brickyard Pond hosts an annual run of anadromous river herring. The Town will complete a conceptual design study for green infrastructure/stormwater best management practices for five Town-owned priority outfalls. The Town’s goal is to significantly reduce phosphorus loadings to support a healthy ecology in Brickyard Pond. ($19,260)

 Clean Ocean Access, Newport & Middletown, Rhode Island, will implement a project, Stormwater
pathogens – Find it and Fix it, to identify sources of pathogens impacting Easton’s Beach. This project includes
a partnership with the City of Newport, the Town of Middletown, and the Rhode Island Department of
Health. The project will include water quality testing and sediment sampling at key locations during dryweather
(low flow of stormwater) and wet-weather (high flow of stormwater) events. The goal is to track
down the sources of bacteria that close the beaches to swimming and develop solutions to fix these recurring
problems. ($45,900)

 The City of Cranston, Rhode Island, will plan and build one or more stormwater infiltration projects in
the Stillhouse Cove portion of the Providence River. This cove in Upper Narragansett Bay experiences severe
algal blooms during the summer due to excess nutrients. Stillhouse Cove is an integral part of the community
and provides Cranston’s only public access to Narragansett Bay. Building green infrastructure projects will
help reduce stormwater pollution loadings and will greatly benefit the water quality in Stillhouse Cove. The
project will also include planning assistance, public outreach, and education through Cranston’s partners: Save
The Bay and the Edgewood Waterfront Preservation Association. ($99,100)

 The Town of East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, is examining creative solutions to provide limited sewer
extensions to serve the densely developed town center. East Bridgewater High School’s existing wastewater
treatment facility has the opportunity to serve additional downtown properties. This project would reduce
nitrogen and phosphorus contributions to nearby surface waters, including Meadow Brook, Salisbury Plain
River, and Matfield River. The Board of Health will review the capacity of the High School Treatment Facility,
assess the flows from other town buildings, project available system capacity for serving town center
properties, and develop a Capital Improvements Plan for limited sewer service areas. ($30,000)

 The City of East Providence, Rhode Island, will build a stormwater mitigation project at Sabin Point Park
on the Providence River to help address elevated bacterial levels. Sabin Point Park is an urban park and beach
that is popular for boaters, beachcombers, walkers, and playground use; however, swimming has not been
allowed there in decades due to water quality impairments. The City received funding through the Rhode
Island Department of Environmental Management to complete the design for the stormwater project. The
goal is the opening of the first swimmable beach in the Providence metropolitan area in decades. The City
will partner with Brown University and the Rhode Island Department of Health staff to monitor nutrient and
bacteria levels to assess the effectiveness of the project. In addition, Save The Bay will provide outreach to
the surrounding communities regarding controls to stormwater runoff. ($100,000)

 The Town of Halifax, Massachusetts, will identify, map, and prioritize the stormwater outfalls and other
sources discharging to the East and West Monponsett Ponds (in the Taunton River watershed). The ponds
are relatively shallow and provide drinking water, fisheries, flood control, and recreation. Significant levels of
pollutants have resulted in algal blooms which have closed beaches and caused fish kills. The Board of
Health’s project will include field verification and mapping of outfalls, prioritization and conceptual design
for sites, and permit level design and cost estimates for the three highest priority sites. ($57,338)

 The Town of Jamestown, Rhode Island, will build an innovative stormwater system to protect Sheffield
Cove. The Cove is a recreationally important shellfishing ground that was closed in 2009 due to excessive
bacterial contamination. The project with be a combination of bioretention and sand filtration to treat
pathogens from stormwater and dry-weather background flows. The sand filter’s design combines
StormCrete (pervious concrete) and sand filtration. The Town will also conduct sampling using microbial
source tracking (DNA fingerprinting) to differentiate specific impacts from various source types such as
wildlife and domestic animals. ($118,200)

 The City of Pawtucket, Rhode Island, will focus on stormwater mapping and green infrastructure design to prioritize projects for the City’s 45 stormwater outfalls. The City will characterize the outfall drainage areas (soils groups, impervious cover, topography) and will then select the 10 most important drainage areas. The priority sites will undergo intensive field assessment of catch basins, manholes, and interconnected drain lines. The City will thereafter prepare conceptual designs for future stormwater improvement projects. ($83,510)

 The City of Warwick, Rhode Island, will install a series of bioretention basins and vegetated swales within the medians of Suburban Parkway to help improve water quality in the vicinity of Oakland Beach and City Park Beach. The total project will be approximately 2,000 feet long, on City‐owned property, and it will help reduce the amount of contaminants entering Greenwich Bay. The City, using Community Development Block Grant funding, previously hired a design group to design the project and provide biddable construction documents for the stormwater treatment facilities. ($180,000)

 The Town of Westerly, Rhode Island, will identify, prioritize, and implement water quality improvements in Little Narragansett Bay and the lower portion of the Pawcatuck River. Presently, these waters have high nutrient loads, elevated bacteria levels, lower water clarity, and low dissolved oxygen concentrations. This grant will support the Town’s work with Save The Bay to identify pollutant sources and develop an implementation plan to address the Phase 1 study area, which includes downtown Westerly. This plan will include recommendations for both structural and non-structural water quality improvements and an interactive map showing the results. ($57,884)

In related news, nearly $800,000 in grants were also approved to fund six projects in the Buzzards Bay watershed as part of the Southeast New England Program. Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker announced today that this program will help towns and organizations protect water quality through grants approved by the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program. See mass.gov/eea and buzzardsbay.org.

Another round of funding from EPA’s Southeast New England Program is on track for 2016. On December 9, 2015, EPA issued a press release seeking initial proposals for a grant program of up to $7 million over the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years to fund projects that will improve coastal water quality and habitat. The request for initial proposals seeks projects that implement innovative restoration and protection approaches, provide strategic collaboration and regional impact, integrate habitat and water quality improvement, and focus on connectivity and ecosystem services and functions. Initial applications are due January 22, 2016. For more information about Southeast New England Program, see: http://www2.epa.gov/snecwrp.

Formed in 1985, the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program’s mission is to protect and restore Narragansett Bay and its watersheds—in both Massachusetts and Rhode Island—through collaborative action, sound science, and informed decision-making. The Narragansett Bay Estuary is one of the 28 estuaries in the country designated by EPA as an “estuary of national significance.”
Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, 235 Promenade St., Suite 310, Providence, RI. www.nbep.org

Since 1947, NEIWPCC has been a leader in the work for clean water. As a not-for-profit interstate agency, NEIWPCC serves its member states—Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont—in many ways including by developing resources that foster progress on water issues, training environmental professionals, coordinating scientific research, educating the public, and providing overall leadership in water management and protection.
NEIWPCC, 650 Suffolk St., Suite 410, Lowell, MA. www.neiwpcc.org