Grants Awarded to Help Protect Bay Watershed

By ecoRI News staff

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission are awarding $65,000 in grants to eight projects designed to protect and restore water quality within the Narragansett Bay watershed.

The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program’s grants, with a maximum award of $10,000 per project and funded by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Rhode Island Natural History Survey, are designed to help municipalities and nonprofits implement projects that focus on water quality and habitat needs in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts.

“The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program is very pleased to lend its support to help protect and restore the water quality in Narragansett Bay,” said Judith Swift, chairwoman of program’s management committee. “It takes many partners, including municipalities and nonprofit organizations throughout the Narragansett Bay watershed, to continue to advance the critical mission of watershed restoration and protection.”

Here is the list of projects being funded this year:

Clean Ocean Access was awarded a grant to increase public access to the shoreline of Aquidneck Island, to promote, preserve and ensure recreational uses, such as fishing, boating, swimming, surfing and walking. The nonprofit will work in Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth to protect and monitor rights of way and provide proper signage for these access points. The goal is to use volunteers to provide monitoring twice a month to connect people to and promote stewardship of the island’s shoreline resources.

Hopedale, Mass., is working to solve water-quality issues in Hopedale Pond that have closed Hopedale Beach for swimming the past several years. The town’s Park Commission is designing solutions to reduce pollution coming from stormwater outfalls that empty into the pond. The goal is to design a stormwater project and identify any illicit dischargers into the system. Hopedale plans to form a steering committee and invite its neighbor, the town of Milford, to help guide the project.

North Kingstown, R.I., plans to build a rain garden at the North Kingstown Free Library to treat stormwater before it enters Academy Cove and, ultimately, Wickford Harbor. The harbor is impaired by a lack of dissolved oxygen, which threatens aquatic life. The project includes the rain garden, a pervious path, educational signage and brochures. The project will be done using volunteers and town employees.

Save The Bay was awarded funding for two projects. The first is a public education and awareness project focusing on the water quality and water supplies for the 67,000 residents of Aquidneck Island. Save The Bay’s communications staff will develop content for Bay Friendly Living, a publication for residents and businesses on Aquidneck Island. The second project involves a partnership with the state’s Coastal Resources Management Council to have volunteers and interns conduct site visits to the 221 state-designated shoreline rights of way. The goal is to document the sites and current conditions and determine whether public access needs to be restored or improved.

Pawtuxet River Authority & Watershed Council also was awarded funding for two projects. The first is a fish-passage project that is designed to build upon the 2011 Pawtuxet Falls dam removal and assess whether fish passage can be created to encourage spawning in Cranberry Pond in Warwick and Blackamore Pond in Cranston. The authority will examine fish habitat and stream flow at each pond and assess the feasibility of removing barriers and restoring fish passage. The second grant will allow for the purchase of a utility trailer to transport equipment for river cleanups along the Pawtuxet River.

Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council will develop an educational program with a focus on stormwater discharges, to restore the urban sections of the Woonasquatucket River and Narragansett Bay. The project will include a public school curriculum for fourth-graders, public art, with North Providence High School designing storm-drain paintings and murals, and youth leadership development for high-school students in science education at the Met School in Providence.