Climate Crisis

DEM, Infrastructure Bank Announce Grants To Strengthen Resilience Of Wastewater Collection And Treatment Infrastructure

PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank (RIIB) announced recently that $5 million in matching grants is available for wastewater treatment facility resilience projects.

A Request for Proposals (RFP) is now open, with a deadline of January 30, 2020, for projects that protect publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities from storm surge, winds, and other natural hazards that are expected to increase in frequency and severity due to climate change. Funding will be provided through the 2018 Green Economy and Clean Water Bond, which Rhode Island voters approved by a margin of almost 80 percent last November.

“Strengthening the resilience of our public wastewater treatment facilities is critically important, given a changing climate that will continue to bring more intense storms and increased rainfall to our area,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Thanks to the Green Economy and Clean Water Bond fund, we’re investing in our state’s wastewater infrastructure to help ensure a more resilient Rhode Island today and in the future.”

“Water quality and the health of our bay and the ocean are critical to Rhode Island’s economy. The resiliency grants will assist wastewater utilities in making critical upgrades that take into account future events such as sea level rise, extreme weather events, and other hazards,” said Infrastructure Bank CEO Jeffrey Diehl.

DEM is seeking grant proposals for projects that will harden, relocate, repair/replace, and/or provide redundancy to publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities including pump stations, sewers, and other critical equipment/components. Additional information about eligible projects and the required match is available in the RFP.

In Rhode Island, as elsewhere, increasing storm intensities have damaged wastewater treatment plants and pump stations. It is expected that climate change will increase these threats. Rhode Island is home to 19 major wastewater treatment facilities that treat close to 120 million gallons of residential, commercial, and industrial wastewater daily. Designed to take advantage of gravity, many wastewater facilities and associated pump stations are at risk of inundation due to their location at low elevations, often in riverine or coastal floodplains.

Two public workshops have been scheduled to discuss the RFP:

Date: Thursday, January 9 Time: 10 AM – 12 PM Town of Bristol Council Chambers Burnside Building, 2nd Floor, Court Street

Date: Monday, January 13 Time: 2 – 4 PM RIDEM Headquarters, Room 300 235 Promenade Street, Providence

For more information or to apply for these grant opportunities, contact Bill Patenaude (bill.patenaude@dem.ri.gov).

Electronic applications are encouraged; however, proposals also may be mailed to the DEM Permit Application Center, 235 Promenade Street, Second Floor, Providence, RI 02908. Final proposals and supporting materials are due by 4 PM on Thursday, January 30, 2020. Local, state and regional governmental agencies are eligible to apply.

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