EPA Funding for Local Groups Will Help Protect and Restore Southeast New England’s Coastal Environment

Event in Pawtucket will introduce grantees and include tour of new Tidewater Landing waterfront development site

Contact: Tom Ardito
Restore America’s Estuaries – Director, SNEP Watershed Grants

Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has selected 14 local organizations for $1.75 million in new federal funding under the 2021 round of Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants.

The Rhode Island awards were announced by Senator Jack Reed at an event at the Blackstone Valley Visitor’s Center in Pawtucket, RI on September 9th.

In addition to Sen. Reed, speakers will include Cong. David Cicilline; Cong. Jim Langevin; Ken Moraff, Water Division Director for EPA Region 1; Jennifer Paquet, Senior Environmental Planner, RIDEM Office of Water Resources; and Mayor Donald R. Grebien of Pawtucket.

The City of Pawtucket is hosting the event as the recipient of one of the grants, $300,000 to fund open space and water quality improvements related to the new Tidewater Landing development. Following the grant announcements, city planner Anthony Hebert will discuss Tidewater Landing, which will include a new soccer stadium, public park and mixed-use development on both sides of the Seekonk River, connected by a new pedestrian bridge. Weather permitting, Mr. Hebert will provide a tour of the site, where construction has begun.

The Massachusetts awards, which were announced on September 13th virtually over Zoom, included Representative Bill Keating, EPA Region 1 Water Division Director Ken Moraff; Gerard Martin, Dep. Reg. Director, Bureau of Water Resources, Mass. Dept. of Environmental Protection; and Beth Lambert, Director, Div. of Ecological Restoration, Mass. Dept. of Fish & Game.

A New Bedford organization, Groundwork Southcoast (GWSC), is a featured recipient of the grants. GWSC will be awarded $100,000 to begin coastal resilience planning and environmental improvements in New Bedford’s North End, an environmental justice community that experienced the impacts of industrial contamination for many years.

2021 SNEP Watershed Grants will fund work by municipalities and other local organizations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to accomplish the goals of EPA’s SNEP program: a resilient ecosystem of safe and healthy waters, thriving watersheds and natural lands, and sustainable communities. Since 2012, SNEP has provided nearly $40 million in funding and technical assistance to help municipalities, non-profit organizations, state and tribal governments, universities and other organizations working to solve the region’s most pressing environmental problems. By supporting partnerships, promoting information-sharing, and funding new technologies, SNEP is building capacity for better management of the regional environment while providing on-the-ground benefits for communities and ecosystems.

The $1.75 million in 2021 SNEP Watershed Grants will be matched by a comparable amount of non-federal funds pledged by the grant recipients and their partners, resulting in nearly $3.6 million in new funding for local projects to improve the coastal environment of Southeast New England.

“I am pleased to lead the effort to make these federal grants available to help restore clean water, and ensure healthy coastal ecosystems in Rhode Island watersheds and around the region.  This is a coordinated, collaborative effort.  These federal grants will help local organizations and governments work together to prevent pollution and improve Southeast New England’s environment and economy,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who spearheaded the creation of SNEP for coastal watershed restoration in 2012. Reed has since led efforts to appropriate $38 million in SNEP funds to contribute to the restoration, protection, and preservation of Narragansett Bay and other water quality projects in Southeastern New England.

“The delegation fights hard to secure funding to make sure Rhode Island’s beautiful waterways and coastal ecosystems are clean and resilient,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “I’m excited these natural infrastructure and conservation projects will move forward with this federal support.”

“The Southern New England Program continues to provide vital and targeted funding to hundreds of water quality improvement projects in our region,” said Congressman Bill Keating. “These projects are critical to the overall improvement of the health and water quality of our communities’ estuaries and embayments. The research and hands-on experience generated by SNEP projects have advanced water quality science and have further cemented this region as the nation’s laboratory for water quality. I’m proud of the work that SNEP has accomplished since Senator Jack Reed and I worked together to start the program almost ten years ago and look forward to continuing to support their efforts to protect our most important resource.”

“This investment will help municipalities and local organizations continue their important work cleaning our waters, preserving our coastal habitats, and creating more resilient ecosystems,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Congratulations to all of this year’s successful awardees.”

“For nearly a decade, I have been proud to advocate for this critical funding that has helped reduce pollution and restore healthy ecosystems throughout the New England watershed. This year, I fought to include an additional $2 million for the Southern New England Estuaries Program in the federal budget, and I look forward to seeing that money support additional clean up projects across the Ocean State,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “Together, we can reinvigorate our waterways and invest in our coastal communities, leading to better health outcomes and stronger economic growth. I’m proud to join my colleagues to announce this funding, and I thank the EPA for its continued commitment to Rhode Island’s blue economy.”

“The bays, estuaries, and landscapes of Southeast coastal New England make our communities such special places to live. However, we know this area is under considerable threats from climate change, nutrient pollution and other stressors,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. “EPA’s Southeast New England Program is bringing financial and technical resources to our local partners that are helping to address these concerns through funding, collaboration, and innovative approaches. Working with our partners to advance effective practices and increase local capacity is a priority for EPA. Today’s funding is essential for meeting our communities’ needs and contributing to the sustained ecosystem health and economic vitality of our coastal communities.”

“Clean waterbodies start with clean, healthy watersheds,” said Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Acting Director Terry Gray. “Since 2012, the Southeast New England Program has provided vital support toward protecting our coastal ecosystems, restoring water quality, and adapting to a changing climate. Rhode Island is very grateful for these additional resources to apply science-based approaches to our most pressing ecological challenges.”

“Pawtucket was awarded $300,000 for nature-based solutions to stormwater management as a part of the stormwater management improvements to public areas around the Tidewater development and I would like to thank SNEP for their dedication to Pawtucket and this funding opportunity,” said Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “Tidewater is an amazing opportunity for our city, and we were thankful to have everyone here in Pawtucket today with the project as a backdrop to announce these grants.”

“The Commonwealth is committed to working with all stakeholders to ensure the restoration and protection of the sensitive environments of our coastal waters, watersheds and communities,” said Commissioner Martin Suuberg of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection. “We want to thank EPA’s Southeast New England Program for the grants awarded to the five Massachusetts projects, which are designed to restore, preserve, protect and monitor the coastal watersheds of Southeastern Massachusetts.”
“These five awards advance SNEP and the Commonwealth’s shared goals of healthy habitat and sustainable communities,” said Beth Lambert, Director of the Massachusetts Division of Ecological Restoration. “SNEP funds will help five local organizations to bring partners together on projects that increase climate resilience, improve water quality, and manage stormwater. We appreciate SNEP’s investment in the long-term health and resilience of Massachusetts communities and ecosystems.”

The recipients of the 2021 SNEP Watershed Grants were selected through a competitive process; nearly 40 applications were submitted, totaling $7.65 million in requests. The 14 projects selected for funding are below. Click here to learn more about each project. 

Rhode Island

  • Bristol County Water Authority | Restoring the Ecological Resiliency of the Kickemuit River Estuary | $80,000
  • City of Woonsocket | Truman Drive Green Infrastructure Parkway | $187,500
  • Town of Middletown | Maidford River and Floodplain Restoration Phase 2 | $121,800
  • Groundwork Rhode Island | Private Property Green Infrastructure Maintenance Assessment and Support | $238,274
  • Commercial Fisheries Research Foundation | Planning a Ghost Gear Removal Program for Rhode Island | $17,385
  • City of Cranston | Urban Green Infrastructure Construction Projects, Spectacle Pond Watershed | $150,000
  • Clean Ocean Access | Land to Sea Speaker Series | $15,000
  • Town of Tiverton | Tiverton Fogland Beach and Conservation Area Phase 1 Resiliency Project | $34,700
  • City of Pawtucket | Tidewater Landing | $300,000


  • Groundwork Southcoast | Developing the North End (of New Bedford) Resilience District | $100,000
  • Mass Audubon | Broad Meadow Brook Wetland and Stream Restoration | $74,800
  • Sheriff’s Meadow Foundation | Roth Woodlands Stream Restoration Culvert Replacement | $138,842
  • Harwich Conservation Trust | Hinckleys Pond – Herring River Headwaters Eco-Restoration Project | $146,700
  • Association to Preserve Cape Cod | Cape Cod Stormwater Management at Public Boat Ramps | $148,871

In addition to announcing the individual grantees, EPA Region 1 is announcing the continuation of the agency’s partnership with RAE to manage SNEP Watershed Grants through 2028. Since 2018, the RAE/EPA partnership has awarded more than $10 million to municipalities, non-profit organizations, state agencies, tribes and others working on high-priority environmental projects.

“Restore America’s Estuaries is honored to receive the confidence of the U.S. EPA to continue our partnership on the SNEP Watershed Implementation Grants program” said Daniel Hayden, President and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries. “Facilitating on-the-ground restoration in Southeast New England has been a cornerstone achievement for RAE since 2018, and we couldn’t be more excited about the impact our 2021 awardees will make with the newest round of funding. We look forward to following these projects through completion.”

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