DEM awards grants in an effort to keep Narragansett Bay clean

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EAST PROVIDENCE, RI (WPRI) — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced $37,500 in grants that aim to improve and maintain boat pump-out facilities Tuesday.

The grants are funded under the US Fish & Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act (CVA).

There are two locations supported by this; near and along the Sakonnet River and East Middle Bay in Portsmouth.

Over the last 25 years, the DEM has awarded over $2 million in Clean Vessel Act grants.

“We are pleased to award these grants to improve Rhode Island’s boat pump-out infrastructure.” DEM Director Janet Coit said.

Narragansett Bay is the main vein for the state of Rhode Island with thousands of boaters using it each year.

There are two recipients for the grants.

At the location of Safe Harbors Sakonnet Marina, the goal is to replace an existing pump and fixed-based pump-out station.

The goal for Safe Harbors New England Boatworks is to fund a new land-based facility.

There are a total of 15 pump-out boats and 48 landside facilities located across Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island coastal waters.

Since initial construction, many facilities have run through their timeframe for being useful thus many are in need of repairs and upgrades.

Nearly 40,000 boats are registered in Rhode Island with thousands more visiting the waters each year. Over 600,000 gallons of sewage was pumped out of the facilities and were redirected from entering coastal waters.

“Over the years, projects funded with pump-out grants have been instrumental in helping to reduce a major source of contamination to the state’s coastal waters, including the bacteria that can cause shellfish closures,” Coit said.

The grants require a 25% funding match and funded facilities must be available to all boaters. Grant recipients may not charge more than $5 per 25 gallons of sewage pumped.

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