Town receives grants to combat climate change

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) recently awarded $6.8 million in matching grants for 33 projects to mitigate water pollution from stormwater and nonpoint sources, reduce flooding, and strengthen the state’s climate resilience.

The grants are made possible through funding from the Narragansett Bay and Watershed Restoration Bond Fund and the federal Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution program.

Flood prevention and mitigation grant recipients include Bonnet Shores Fire District, who received $200,000; Town of Bristol, $124,400; Town of Burrillville, $125,000; City of East Providence, $544,025; Town of Hopkinton, $91,575; City of Newport, $425,000; Town of North Providence, $249,356; Town of Portsmouth, $433,200; The Nature Conservancy, $272,000; Town of Warren, $175,200; Town of West Warwick, $54,750. 

Non-point source pollution abatement grant recipients include the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, $47,500; Town of Bristol, $75,000; Town of Portsmouth, $35,820; and Town of Warren, $163,000. 

“Climate change is real, and is poised to uniquely affect Rhode Island as the Ocean State,” said Governor Gina M. Raimondo. “We need to take action to safeguard our natural resources and our communities. These grants help prepare cities and towns to deal with our changing climate while creating jobs for Rhode Islanders in engineering, construction, and landscaping.”

“We’re excited that these grants will enable us to work with municipalities and other partners to advance a cleaner, more resilient Rhode Island,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “This work is vitally important given a changing climate that will continue to deliver increased annual rainfall and more intense storms to our region.

“Continuing to invest in water quality improvement efforts is critical. It strengthens our resilience, supports our quality of life, and helps attract people and businesses to locate here. Congratulations to all grant recipients. We look forward to celebrating the success of these projects.”

A total of $3.78 million was awarded for 18 projects to improve stormwater management and abate stormwater pollution. Included are projects to retrofit existing infrastructure, including those that use green infrastructure techniques such as grassed swales, bioretention areas, pavement removal and infiltration to allow natural processes to remove pollutants before they reach waterways. Stormwater grants will also help six communities acquire trucks and equipment needed to improve maintenance of stormwater infrastructure.

Approximately $2.69 million was awarded for 11 flood mitigation and prevention projects to reduce or eliminate the long-term risk of flooding in coastal or inland areas and enhance natural ecosystem functions. The grants support solutions to flooding problems using environmentally-beneficial techniques; for example, projects that resolve road and property flooding through culvert reconstruction will result in improved stream passage and habitat of fish and wildlife.

Projects in Portsmouth and Middletown will target actions that abate road flooding while also restoring and better protecting valuable coastal habitats including salt marsh.

“These grants will help protect our state’s infrastructure and critical natural resources,” said Shaun O’Rourke, director of Stormwater and Resiliency at Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank. “The projects emphasize the importance of collaboration, from municipalities to community organizations, in better preparing Rhode Island for a new climate reality.”

A total of $321,320 in federal nonpoint source grants was awarded for four projects that address indirect sources of pollution and improve water quality/aquatic habitat. Included are three riparian restoration and stormwater management improvement projects, and one cesspool replacement project. The funding is made available through a grant to DEM from the US Environmental Protection Agency.

Stormwater pollution abatement grant recipients include the Aquidneck Island Planning Commission, who received $300,000; Town of Coventry, $200,000; Town of Cumberland, $197,500; City of East Providence, $55,000; Farm Fresh RI, $167,500; Town of Jamestown, $265,000; Town of Middletown, $36,600; Narragansett Bay Commission, $400,000; City of Newport, $110,000; Town of North Kingstown , $87,500; City of Pawtucket,  $575,000; City of Providence, $418,000 (2 projects); Town of South Kingstown, $594,300 (2 projects); City of Warwick, $244,500 (2 projects); and the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, $133,900. 

Visit DEM’s website at www.dem.ri.gov for a full description of each project.

Grant funding is made possible via the 2014 Clean Water, Open Space, and Healthy Communities Bond ($3 million), the 2016 Green Economy Bond ($3 million), and the federal Clean Water Act Section 319 program ($400,000).

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