DEM Awards $569,500 in Grants to Improve Water Quality and Reduce Flooding

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) recently announced the award of $569,500 in matching grants for three projects to mitigate water pollution from stormwater and nonpoint sources and reduce flooding, including a project in Portsmouth.

The grants are made possible through federal funding from the US Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) under the Clean Water Act Section 319 Nonpoint Source Pollution program.

Unlike pollution from industrial and sewage treatment plants, nonpoint source (NPS) pollution comes from many diffuse sources: land runoff, precipitation, atmospheric deposition, drainage, or seepage. NPS pollution is caused by rainfall or snowmelt moving over and through the ground. As the runoff moves, it picks up and carries away natural and human-made pollutants, finally depositing them into lakes, rivers, wetlands, coastal waters, and ground waters. NPS pollution is probably the most pervasive water quality problem in the United States. It can include:

  • Excess fertilizers, herbicides, and insecticides from agricultural lands and residential areas;
  • Oil, grease, and toxic chemicals from urban runoff;
  • Sediment from improperly managed construction sites, crop and forest lands, and eroding stream banks;
  • Salt and sand from winter road maintenance;
  • Bacteria and nutrients from livestock, pet wastes, and faulty septic systems.

“Clean water depends on people, communities, and businesses putting the best scientific, technological, and engineering advances into practice,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “The grants that we’re awarding to Bristol, Narragansett, and Portsmouth exemplify best management practices and we are excited to see how these community projects will help prevent or reduce the scourge of nonpoint source pollution.”

The projects awarded funding are as follows:

Project: Bristol Police Station Stormwater Improvement Project
Grant Award: $133,800
Total Project Cost: $223,000
Affected Waterbody: Bristol Harbor

The Town of Bristol will complete planning and construct several stormwater treatment best management practices (BMPs) on the Bristol Police Station property including two bioretention areas, two tree filters, and an extended detention basin that will direct outflow to the adjacent woods. The project will improve water quality by infiltrating stormwater and reducing downstream flooding at Tanyard Reservoir, where DEM also is supporting construction of BMPs as part of a separate habitat restoration project.

Project: Narrow River Stormwater BMP Installation in Indian Trail Neighborhood
Grant Award: $400,000
Total Project Cost: $1,239,384
Affected Waterbody: Narrow River

The Town of Narragansett will conduct a project to treat stormwater for nitrogen and bacteria in the Narrow River watershed by directing stormwater through subsurface infiltration chambers located under streets in the Indian Trail neighborhood. Two tree filters will be installed to collect additional stormwater flow that cannot be collected in the subsurface chambers. This project is like those previously performed in the Edgewood and Pettaquamscutt neighborhoods.

Project: Septic System Replacement at Portsmouth Public Works Garage
Grant Award: $35,700
Total Project Cost: $59,500
Affected Waterbody: East Passage of Narragansett Bay

The Town of Portsmouth will replace an undocumented and failing septic system at the Portsmouth Public Works Garage. The current system has required pumping three times in the past 14 months and will be replaced with an updated system.

Visit DEM’s website for more information on the Nonpoint Source Grant program.

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