RAE announces $4.5 million in grants for clean water and healthy coasts in Southeast New England

September 17, 2018
Restore America’s Estuaries
Pawtucket, Rhode Island

For Immediate Release

Contact: Thomas Ardito
401-675-3109 | tardito@estuaries.org

On Monday, Sept. 17, Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) will announce $4.5 million in new funding for local organizations working to restore clean water and healthy coastal ecosystems to Southeast New England.

The announcement event is scheduled for 10 a.m. at Pawtucket City Hall (agenda attached).

The funding is provided under the 2018 Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants, a collaboration between RAE and EPA Region 1. The goal of the grant program is to build and support partnerships to tackle the region’s most pressing environmental issues, such as nutrient pollution and coastal habitat loss.

RAE selected 14 grant recipients through a rigorous competitive process. The awardees include municipalities, non-profit organizations, state agencies, universities and regional planning organizations, each of which is leading an innovative, high-impact project of regional importance. The $4.5 million in federal funds will be matched by an additional $1.8 million in state and local dollars – providing altogether more than $6.3 million in funds to protect and restore Southeast New England’s environment.

The 2018 SNEP Watershed Grants are funding $2.3 million in Rhode Island and interstate projects, including:

  • Town of Bristol to restore Silver Creek on Bristol Harbor ($300,000);
  • City of Pawtucket to build a “green and complete street” – integrating clean water and transportation improvements – adjacent to the new rail station ($376,000);
  • RIDEM to upgrade environmental monitoring equipment in Narragansett Bay ($300,000);
  • Save The Bay to restore clean water in Hundred Acre Cove in Upper Narragansett Bay ($132,000);
  • University of Rhode Island for a scientific study of groundwater pollution to Narragansett Bay and the South Shore salt ponds ($475,000);
  • R.I. Dept. of Environmental Management (RIDEM) to work with the State of Connecticut on restoring the Pawcatuck River Estuary and Little Narragansett Bay ($450,000); and
  • New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission to develop a new method of assessing coastal water quality, providing an important new tool for state and local clean water restoration efforts ($250,000).

The program is funding an additional $2.2 million in Massachusetts projects, which will be announced at an event at Massachusetts Maritime Academy in Buzzards Bay, MA on Sept. 24.

“This federal funding will go a long way toward helping us continue the great progress we’ve made in cleaning up our estuaries and preserving our state’s natural beauty,” said Senator Jack Reed. “Pollution does not respect state lines, and we must work together to confront the environmental challenges we face across Southeast New England. Maintaining healthy watersheds and coastal ecosystems has direct impacts on the economies of our coastal communities and our quality of life. I applaud everyone involved in this process and I pledge to continue working in Washington on behalf of our coastlines and our environment as a whole.”

“Few things are more valuable to Rhode Island than our beautiful waterways and coastline. Protecting them is one of the smartest investments we can make,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “Thank you to the Rhode Islanders who secured this funding and will carry out this vital work.”

“The investment of federal money into these types of projects is critical,” said Congressman David Cicilline. “Clean water and vibrant coastal systems help keep people healthy and play an important economic factor by supporting tourism activities in our state and region.”

“Protecting iconic waters like bays and estuaries in Southern New England is a priority for EPA, and these projects will help further that goal,” said EPA New England Regional Administrator Alexandra Dunn. “The funding announced today will help protect clean water and establish innovative, watershed-based models that are vital to the ecological resiliency and economic vitality of our coastal communities.”

“The biggest threats to clean water and healthy coastal ecosystems – such as climate change, nutrient pollution, and habitat loss – demand collaborative, innovative, and targeted responses, which the recipients of the Southeast New England Program Watershed Grants are poised to deliver,” said RI Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. “Rhode Island is grateful for these additional resources to tackle the challenges confronting us. We will continue to cooperate closely with Massachusetts and Connecticut to protect the vitality and resiliency of our shared waters and watersheds.”

“The City of Pawtucket is honored to have been selected as a recipient of the SNEP Watershed Grants thanks to the collaboration between Restore America’s Estuaries and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. We thank our Congressional Delegation, who have always been great advocates and friends to Pawtucket,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “The Green and Complete Streets Project funded by this program will add green infrastructure and complete street design elements in a highly urbanized area that is expected to undergo substantial redevelopment in the next 10 years.”

Restore America’s Estuaries President Jeff Benoit said, “We are excited to see communities and organizations working together to improve water quality and coastal habitat throughout Southeast New England. This is important not only economically, but also for the quality of life in the region.”

By funding locally based partnerships that are working to reduce pollution and restore coastal habitats, the SNEP Watershed Grants program is helping to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for Southeast New England communities. For more about SNEP Watershed Grants, see www.snepgrants.org.

Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE) is a national nonprofit organization established in 1995. RAE leads a national alliance of ten coastal conservation organizations across the country dedicated to the protection and restoration of bays and estuaries as essential resources for our nation.