EPA Funding for Local Groups Will Help Protect and Restore Massachusetts Environment

The Southeast New England Program works to promote a resilient ecosystem of clean water, healthy diverse habitats, and sustainable communities in Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

Contact: Tom Ardito, Restore America’s Estuaries – Director, SNEP Watershed Implementation Grants
tardito@estuaries.org | 401-575-6109

The Southeast New England Program (SNEP) is a regional initiative, funded by Congress and managed by the US Environmental Protection Agency, working to preserve and restore coastal waters by providing grants and technical assistance to communities, local organizations and partnerships throughout Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts. On October 27 and November 4 in Brockton, MA and Providence, RI, respectively, SNEP announced $1.9 million for 2022 SNEP Watershed Implementation Grants (SWIG) for 11 high-priority projects; Massachusetts communities will be beneficiaries of six of the grants, totaling $1 million. In addition, the SNEP Network will be providing technical assistance to nine communities, which includes four communities and one Tribe in Massachusetts that will receive free technical assistance to advance their stormwater management and climate resilience priorities.

We were honored to have been joined at the press conference in Providence by Senator Jack Reed, Congressmen Langevin and Cicillini, and Mayor Jorge Elorza. In Massachusetts, Brockton Mayor Robert F. Sullivan and a representative from Senator Warren’s Office joined us to show their support. EPA Region 1 Administrator David Cash was present at both events as well as individual grantees for this year’s award.

SWIG is a partnership between Restore America’s Estuaries, a national non-profit organization, and EPA Region 1, while the SNEP Network is administered through EPA’s partnership with the New England Environmental Finance Center, a non-profit technical assistance provider for EPA Region 1, located at the University of Southern Maine, part of the University of Maine System. The awards will be announced at an event at 1 p.m. today in Brockton, MA, at Brockton Iron & Steel, 45 Freight St., Brockton MA, 02301. Speakers will include EPA Regional Administrator David Cash, Mayor Robert F. Sullivan of Brockton, Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection Regional Director Millie Garcia-Serrano, and Mass. Division of Ecological Restoration Director Beth Lambert.

The location of the Massachusetts event was chosen in order to highlight SNEP’s support of the City of Brockton’s effort to restore an urban stream while fostering economic development in an environmental justice community. Brockton is receiving $150,000 from SNEP Watershed Implementation Grants to plan a waterway restoration as the centerpiece of a 65-acre mixed-use, transit-oriented development in what is now an abandoned railyard.

Following the speaking portion of the program, Rob May, Director of Planning and Economic Development for Brockton, led a tour of the project site. As Trout Brook flows eventually into the Taunton River and Narragansett Bay, the project will provide downstream benefits to much of Southeast New England, in addition to its significant local impacts.

Since 2012, SNEP has provided nearly $45 million in funding and technical assistance to help municipalities, non-profit organizations, state and tribal governments, and other organizations accomplish these goals. By funding partnerships, promoting information-sharing, and helping to develop new technologies, SNEP is building capacity for better management of the regional environment while providing on-the-ground benefits for communities and ecosystems and introducing resources to underserved communities.

The $1.9 million in SWIG grants will be matched by about $1 million in non-federal funds secured by the SNEP grantees, resulting in nearly $3 million in new funding for local projects to improve the coastal environment of Southeast New England. In 2022, nearly 30 applications were received totaling $6 million in funding requests.

“Southeast coastal New England is very special, shaped by its history of innovation and its iconic bays, estuaries, and landscapes. But we know it is also under increasing threats from climate change, nutrient pollution and other stressors,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator David Cash, “and those stressors are particularly acute in our underserved communities. Today’s announcements underscore EPA’s commitment to bringing financial and technical resources through the Southeast New England Program to those and other areas. Working with our state and local partners, Restore America’s Estuaries and the SNEP Network, we are advancing effective practices and increasing local capacity through funding, collaboration, and innovative approaches — essential for meeting our communities’ needs and contributing to the sustained ecosystem health and economic vitality of our coastal communities.”

“Today’s funding will serve as the catalyst for restoring Trout Brook, an important natural resource for the City of Brockton,” said MassDEP Commissioner Martin Suuberg. “This project in an environmental justice community will improve water quality and promote green space while bringing an abandoned site back into productive use.”

“The SNEP Program is critical to building regional capacity to address the biggest climate challenges of our time. Although communities throughout southeastern Massachusetts are eager to improve stormwater management, restore habitat, and ramp up adaptation to climate change, they lack the time, money, expertise, and staff to move these projects forward. The SNEP Program fills these gaps by providing much needed technical assistance and funding, and bringing communities and experts together. Congratulations to the grantees, and deep appreciation to EPA and the SNEP Program for supporting this region of the state,” said Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration Director Beth Lambert.

“Restore America’s Estuaries appreciates the commitment of the Rhode Island and Southeast Massachusetts Congressional delegations, as well as the numerous state agencies and municipalities involved in shepherding the values of the Southeast New England Program” said Daniel Hayden, President and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE). “With more than $1.9 million funding 11 exciting projects in the 2022 round of the SNEP Watershed Implementation Grants, RAE is confident we will continue to expand the vital work aimed at improving water quality and coastal resilience in the SNEP region.”

“It is important that communities and technical assistance providers come together to address the effects of climate change from a resilience perspective” said Martha Sheils, Director of the New England Environmental Finance Center, the administering organization of the SNEP Network. Over the past 3 years, the SNEP Network has provided free technical assistance to SNEP communities to advance their climate
resilience goals. This year, the SNEP Network is excited to work with four Massachusetts communities and one tribe to incorporate nature-based solutions in their stormwater planning, improve community outreach, perform ordinance reviews, and move their projects forward toward funding and implementation.”

The event is free and open to the public and press, and will include photo and interview opportunities. Grantees and community assistance recipients will be available to discuss their projects following the speaking portion of the event.

2022 SNEP Grant Recipients

The recipients of the 2022 SNEP Watershed Implementation Grants were selected through a competitive process from among $6 million in requests. The 11 projects to be funded are:

Massachusetts Grants

Association to Preserve Cape Cod (APCC) | Weir Creek Tidal Restoration | $138,616

APCC is working with the Town of Dennis to complete feasibility studies for restoration of over 70 acres of wetlands along Weir Creek. This wetland system is tidally restricted by two undersized culverts, resulting in impaired habitat and negative impacts on the nearby community. The site is a priority for the Town and the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) under the Cape Cod Water Resource Restoration Project and has been identified for future NRCS funding for construction.

Center for Coastal Studies | Removal of Ghost Fishing Gear from Cuttyhunk Shorelines | $55,206

This multi-sector partnership will undertake concerted over-land and vessel-based fishing gear debris extraction working with commercial lobstermen and volunteers to remove debris from the base of cliffs and on boulder-strewn shores. Volunteers (island residents, students, artists, shellfishermen) and donated equipment will be organized to collect and strategically stage debris piles along the shoreline, to then be removed by floating or hauling gear to a vessel, or by transporting with a truck/tractor over- land to a centralized location, processed, and then barged to the mainland for disposal. A public event including art created from project debris will showcase the results.

City of Brockton | Nature-Based Flood Resilience for Urban Economic Redevelopment in the Trout Brook Riparian Corridor| $150,000

Trout Brook is an urban stream through Environmental Justice neighborhoods. The grant will fund planning for nature-based solutions combined with engineered improvements to reduce flooding, improve stormwater management, and restore water quality/ecosystem health. The project integrates with ongoing planning by the City to redevelop the abandoned CSX railyard. A broad, restored riparian corridor and stormwater management area along Trout Brook will be flanked by commercial and residential development areas to attract new investment, while simultaneously incorporating green infrastructure and nature-based solutions for improved resiliency, stormwater management, and green space.

Town of Nantucket | Sesachacha Pond Ecological Enhancement and Resilience Strategies | $158,456

This project will improve water quality while addressing coastal climate impacts by stabilizing a coastal bank along a salt pond. The grant will fund installation of a “living shoreline” of constructed reefs and oyster shell. This combination will help improve water quality through natural filtration and will enhance the habitat for the declining wild oyster population in the pond, while protecting a critical coastal road by dissipating wave energy and erosion associated with storm surge.

Groundwork Southcoast | Developing Fall River Resilience: Cook Pond Project| $215,569

This grant will fund important improvements to an urban pond in Fall River while building local capacity for future work in this environmental justice community. In the near term, Groundwork Southcoast (GWSC) will work on restoring walking trails, restoring native plants, increasing the tree canopy, and improving stormwater management around Cook Pond. The grant also focuses on future community needs by forming a steering committee of regional partners that will develop a resilience plan and a vision for Cook Pond.

Rhode Island Grants

Town of Glocester, RI | Chepachet Village Wastewater Improvements | $250,000

The Town will develop a plan to establish reliable wastewater management systems in the historic village of Chepachet. The grant will fund vigorous outreach to communicate with landowners, and will establish a financial incentive for participation, monitoring parameters, covenants and a third-party monitoring entity to ensure long term success. The plan will serve as a model for other historic rural mill villages throughout Southeast New England.

Audubon Society of Rhode Island | Providence Stormwater Innovation Center | $183,948

This project will develop a web- based application and train participatory scientists to perform visual inspections of stormwater installations, and share results via an online dashboard. Stipends will be offered to community monitors. Improvements will be made to three existing stormwater installations in Roger Williams Park, and lessons learned will be shared through a training hosted by the PSIC.

Southern Rhode Island Conservation District | Westerly’s Resilient Riverfront Renewal | $200,000

The Southern Rhode Island Conservation District will use SWIG funding to continue its work on Westerly’s Resilient Riverfront Renewal project. Along the tidally-influenced Pawcatuck River, in the business districts of Main and Canal Streets and the residential North End neighborhood, the project seeks to address environmental concerns, promote public access and interaction, and revitalize economic growth by:

  • Developing innovative stormwater management using green infrastructure;
  • Alleviating flooding and improving river water quality; and
  • Tackling vulnerabilities to sea level rise and climate change for long-term sustainability.

Rhode Island Chapter of Trout Unlimited | Capwell Mill Pond Dam Removal Study and Design | $124,000

The Rhode Island Chapter of Trout Unlimited (RITU) will complete a feasibility study, including 35% designs, for the removal of the Capwell Mill Pond Dam in West Greenwich, Rhode Island. The eventual removal of this structure will restore over 11 miles of stream habitat, create over 20 acres of wetlands, and restore wild brook trout in the state’s Big River Management Area.

Community MusicWorks | Community MusicWorks Center Water Retention Parklet| $150,000

Community MusicWorks (CMW) is building The Community MusicWorks Education Center, an educational and performance facility in the West End of Providence. This grant will support the creation of an exterior natural landscape with a self-contained rainwater recycling and irrigation system. The outdoor spaces are intended to expand the footprint of the building and invite pedestrians and the CMW community to enjoy much needed green space, a parklet, and woodland garden. The outdoor spaces act as green infrastructure recapturing roof rainwater for irrigation and bio-retention areas to capture stormwater.

Interstate Grants

New England Water Pollution Control Comm. | Community-Based Habitat Restoration: Water Chestnut Management in Blackstone & Ten Mile Watersheds | $262,077

This project will empower local communities, including environmental justice areas, to tackle the massive invasion of water chestnut in urban ponds by:

  • Demonstrating water chestnut management activities in order to restore habitats in lakes, ponds, and rivers of the Blackstone and Ten Mile River Watersheds;
  • Providing technical assistance and training to municipalities;
  • Funding large-scale treatment to lessen the burden of future management;
  • Supporting volunteer events to train watershed associations to engage communities and eradicate pioneer infestations; and
  • Creating materials to train other municipalities to collaboratively manage water chestnut.

The $1.9 million in 2021 SNEP Watershed Grants will be matched by more than $1 million in non-federal funds from the grant recipients and partners, resulting in a total of $3 million in new funding for local projects to improve the coastal environment of Southeast New England.

2022 SNEP Community Assistance Recipients

The 2022 SNEP Network Community Assistance Projects were selected through a competitive process. The 9 projects selected to receive free technical assistance from the SNEP Network. The SNEP Network is managed by the New England Environmental Finance Center that provides on-the-ground local technical assistance partners and offers free engineering consultant support to advance projects. This year’s community assistance projects are:

Massachusetts Assistance

Buzzards Bay Coalition | GIS analysis for developing spatial hydrologic response units (HRU), a combination of land use type, soil infiltration capacity, and land cover slope, to characterize the watershed conditions Groundwork Southcoast with New Bedford, MA | Participation in training to develop conceptual designs for stormwater retrofits and green infrastructure solutions

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe and the Town of Mashpee | Analysis of baseline monitoring data and assistance with community engagement, communications, and partnership building; finalization of watershed-based plan; technical support for grant applications to leverage Town match

Town of Marion, MA | Participation in training to develop conceptual designs for stormwater retrofits and green infrastructure solutions

Town of Shrewsbury, MA | Review and revision of current rules and regulations to integrate new low impact design and green infrastructure requirements; participation in training to develop conceptual designs for stormwater retrofits and green infrastructure solutions

Rhode Island Assistance

Town of North Kingstown, RI | Participation in training to develop conceptual designs for stormwater retrofits and green infrastructure solutions

Middletown, RI | Development of a 5-year climate resilience capital improvement plan; recommendations on sustainable funding and financing mechanisms; support in enhancing Climate Leadership Collaboration on Aquidneck Island in close partnership with the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank and the Regional Resilience Coordinator

Burrillville Land Trust | Development of a training on priority topics in land use planning, watershed protection, and ecosystem services for communities in the Blackstone Watershed

South Kingstown, RI | Development of a buffer restoration plan that includes a detailed planning plan, conceptual designs for managing sheet flow surface runoff, and order of magnitude costs estimates to implement the buffer restoration plan

For more on EPA’s Southeast New England Program, see www.epa.gov/snep
For more about SNEP Watershed Implementation Grants, see www.snepgrants.org
For more on the SNEP Network, see www.snepnetwork.org