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EPA Unveils Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program


Posted on November 2, 2015

The US EPA recently joined state and local dignitaries to announce US$5 million in federal funding to continue efforts of the Southeast New England Programme for Coastal Watershed Restoration.

The programme brings together innovation and partnerships to apply an ecosystem approach to protecting and restoring the coastal watersheds of southeast New England from Westerly, RI to Chatham, Mass, including Narragansett Bay and all other Rhode Island coastal waters, Buzzards Bay, and southern Cape Cod.
EPA has committed US$4,999,500 for coastal watershed restoration in southeast New England through several partnerships.

Specific funding highlights include: US$1 million to the Narragansett Bay Estuary Programme and US$1 million to the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Programme for priority projects in these watersheds; approximately US$1.5 million through EPA’s Healthy Communities Grant Program funding nine projects; and approximately US$1.5 million in contracts for work that contributes directly to protection of coastal water quality and provides better understanding of future efforts and practical solutions.

Four funded projects will provide tangible benefits for Narragansett Bay, including a US$200,000 allocation for the Rhode Island Dept of Health to pursue a groundbreaking effort to train New England laboratories to use EPA’s “Rapid qPCR” method for confirming beach water quality in hours rather than days. This project will include partnership efforts with Clean Ocean Access, Save the Bay, Town of Bristol and City of Newport.

The RI Dept of Environmental Management (RI DEM) is receiving US$200,000 to launch a multi-partner effort, focused on building the foundation for key environmental indicators meaningful to the public. Partners in this project include the University of Rhode Island Coastal Institute (URI-CI) , Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, Mass Dept of Environmental Protection, RI Environmental Monitoring Collaborative and Watershed Counts.

Using funding of US$199,664, The Nature Conservancy will apply to the Taunton River watershed a proven, successful approach used by the Cape Cod Commission, for engaging the public in determining locally appropriate nutrient management strategies, with a particular focus on building collaboration and partnerships throughout the region.

The Southeastern Regional Planning and Economic Development District is receiving US$170,000 to develop a green infrastructure map of the Taunton River Watershed, giving municipal officials case studies and training in using customized overviews of natural features in their communities that serve to protect water quality, groundwater recharge, flood control, and biodiversity.

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