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EPA Funding for Local Groups Will Help Protect and Restore Southeast New England’s Coastal Environment
Event in Pawtucket introduces grantees on watershed development
Restore America’s Estuaries (RAE), in partnership with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has selected 14 local organizations for $1.75 million in new federal funding under the 2021 round of Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants.
The awards were announced by Senator Jack Reed at an event held at 1 p.m. today, at the Blackstone Valley Visitor’s Center, 175 Main St., Pawtucket RI 02860.
In addition to Sen. Reed, speakers included Cong. David Cicilline; Cong. Jim Langevin; Ken Moraff, Water Division Director for EPA Region 1; Jennifer Paquet, Senior Environmental Planner, RIDEM Office of Water Resources; and Mayor Donald R. Grebien of Pawtucket.
The City of Pawtucket hosted the event as the recipient of one of the grants; $300,000 to fund open space and water quality improvements related to the new Tidewater Landing development. Following the grant announcements, Commerce Director for Pawtucket Jeanne Boyle discussed Tidewater Landing, which will include a new soccer stadium, public park and mixed-use development on both sides of the Seekonk River, connected by a new pedestrian bridge.
2021 SNEP Watershed Grants will fund work by municipalities and other local organizations in Rhode Island and Massachusetts to accomplish the goals of EPA’s SNEP program: a resilient ecosystem of safe and healthy waters, thriving watersheds and natural lands, and sustainable communities. Since 2012, SNEP has provided nearly $40 million in funding and technical assistance to help municipalities, non-profit organizations, state and tribal governments, universities and other organizations working to solve the region’s most pressing environmental problems. By supporting partnerships, promoting information-sharing, and funding new technologies, SNEP is building capacity for better management of the regional environment while providing on-the-ground benefits for communities and ecosystems.
The $1.75 million in 2021 SNEP Watershed Grants will be matched by a comparable amount of non-federal funds pledged by the grant recipients and their partners, resulting in nearly $3.6 million in new funding for local projects to improve the coastal environment of Southeast New England.
“I am pleased to lead the effort to make these federal grants available to help restore clean water, and ensure healthy coastal ecosystems in Rhode Island watersheds and around the region. This is a coordinated, collaborative effort. These federal grants will help local organizations and governments work together to prevent pollution and improve Southeast New England’s environment and economy,” said Senator Reed, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, who spearheaded the creation of SNEP for coastal watershed restoration in 2012. Reed has since led efforts to appropriate $38 million in SNEP funds to contribute to the restoration, protection, and preservation of Narragansett Bay and other water quality projects in Southeastern New England.
“The delegation fights hard to secure funding to make sure Rhode Island’s beautiful waterways and coastal ecosystems are clean and resilient,” said Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “I’m excited these natural infrastructure and conservation projects will move forward with this federal support.”
“This investment will help municipalities and local organizations continue their important work cleaning our waters, preserving our coastal habitats, and creating more resilient ecosystems,” said Congressman Cicilline. “Congratulations to all of this year’s successful awardees.”
“For nearly a decade, I have been proud to advocate for this critical funding that has helped reduce pollution and restore healthy ecosystems throughout the New England watershed. This year, I fought to include an additional $2 million for the Southern New England Estuaries Program in the federal budget, and I look forward to seeing that money support additional clean up projects across the Ocean State,” said Rep. Jim Langevin. “Together, we can reinvigorate our waterways and invest in our coastal communities, leading to better health outcomes and stronger economic growth. I’m proud to join my colleagues to announce this funding, and I thank the EPA for its continued commitment to Rhode Island’s blue economy.”
“The bays, estuaries, and landscapes of Southeast coastal New England make our communities such special places to live. However, we know this area is under considerable threats from climate change, nutrient pollution and other stressors,” said EPA New England Acting Regional Administrator Deborah Szaro. “EPA’s Southeast New England Program is bringing financial and technical resources to our local partners that are helping to address these concerns through funding, collaboration, and innovative approaches. Working with our partners to advance effective practices and increase local capacity is a priority for EPA. Today’s funding is essential for meeting our communities’ needs and contributing to the sustained ecosystem health and economic vitality of our coastal communities.”
“Clean waterbodies start with clean, healthy watersheds,” said Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Acting Director Terry Gray. “Since 2012, the Southeast New England Program has provided vital support toward protecting our coastal ecosystems, restoring water quality, and adapting to a changing climate. Rhode Island is very grateful for these additional resources to apply science-based approaches to our most pressing ecological challenges.”
“Pawtucket was awarded $300,000 for nature-based solutions to stormwater management as a part of the stormwater management improvements to public areas around the Tidewater development and I would like to thank SNEP for their dedication to Pawtucket and this funding opportunity,” said Mayor Donald R. Grebien. “Tidewater is an amazing opportunity for our city, and we were thankful to have everyone here in Pawtucket today with the project as a backdrop to announce these grants.”
The recipients of the 2021 SNEP Watershed Grants were selected through a competitive process; nearly 40 applications were submitted, totaling $7.65 million in requests. The 14 projects selected for funding are:
More information on each of these projects is provided in the attached summary.
In addition to announcing the individual grantees, EPA Region 1 is announcing the continuation of the agency’s partnership with RAE to manage SNEP Watershed Grants through 2028. Since 2018, the RAE/EPA partnership has awarded more than $10 million to municipalities, non-profit organizations, state agencies, tribes and others working on high-priority environmental projects.
“Restore America’s Estuaries is honored to receive the confidence of the U.S. EPA to continue our partnership on the SNEP Watershed Implementation Grants program” said Daniel Hayden, President and CEO of Restore America’s Estuaries. “Facilitating on-the-ground restoration in Southeast New England has been a cornerstone achievement for RAE since 2018, and we couldn’t be more excited about the impact our 2021 awardees will make with the newest round of funding. We look forward to following these projects through completion.”
For more information about SNEP Watershed Grants, see www.snepgrants.org
For more on EPA’s Southeast New England Program, see www.epa.gov/snep