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EPA Coastal Restoration Grants Will Help Massachusetts and Rhode Island Communities

Contact Information: 
David Deegan (
(617) 918-1017

BOSTON – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) along with Restore America's Estuaries (RAE) announced the awarding of $1.8 million in new funding to local organizations working for clean water and healthy coastal ecosystems in Southeast New England.

The funding is provided by EPA under the 2020 Southeast New England Program (SNEP) Watershed Grants, a collaboration between EPA Region 1 and RAE. The grant program builds and supports partnerships that tackle the region's most pressing environmental issues, such as nutrient pollution and coastal habitat loss.

"EPA is pleased to provide funding to implement these local projects that promise to have positive environmental and community outcomes in the Southeast New England region," said U.S. EPA Regional Administrator Dennis Deziel. "This year's $1.8 million investment in Rhode Island and Massachusetts coastal communities will fund projects that help increase grass-roots involvement and build local capacity, including in economically distressed areas and environmental justice communities. These projects emphasize community resilience and will yield significant social, economic, and environmental benefits for our region."

"With an investment of almost $1.8 million dollars, we will be able to build upon the success we have already had here in the state in preserving vital coastal habitat and further reducing pollution in the watershed," said U.S. Senator Jack Reed.

"We are pleased to partner with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to support these investments in improving water quality, coastal habitats, and recreational opportunities for communities throughout Southeastern New England," said Daniel Hayden, President of Restore America's Estuaries. "These projects support jobs today, while protecting the resources that support tourism, fishing and recreation."

By funding locally based partnerships that are working to reduce pollution and restore coastal habitats, the SNEP Watershed Grants program is helping to ensure a sustainable and prosperous future for Southeast New England communities. Southeast New England's coastal environment has never been more important. In a time of quarantine and social distancing, careful outdoor recreation is one of the few safe sources of enjoyment and exercise for families and individuals of all ages, while the business activity generated by a clean coastal environment – from fishing to boatbuilding to, when it returns, coastal tourism – will be key to rebuilding our pandemic-battered economy.

In 2012, Congress charged EPA with conserving and restoring southeast New England's coastal environment, and in 2014 began providing funding to develop a Southeast New England Program (SNEP). As EPA's pass-through organization, Restore America's Estuaries is now working with EPA to manage the SNEP Watershed Grants program, funding local organizations that are restoring clean water and healthy coastal ecosystems while strengthening local communities.

Past Awards: In 2018 and 2019, SNEP Watershed Grants awarded $6.6 million to high-impact projects throughout the SNEP region. The grants funded municipalities, non-profit organizations, academic institutions and others working on a variety of innovative projects, including cranberry bog and salt marsh restorations, urban and suburban storm-water programs, and environmental monitoring and research. The diverse partnerships funded by SNEP Watershed Grants increase local capacity to restore coastal ecosystems, while SNEP provides a framework for communicating that experience—enhancing our region's ability to tackle shared environmental challenges.

2020 Grants: In 2020, SNEP Watershed Grants is will support 11 important initiatives, including dam and culvert removal, shellfish restoration, and urban community resilience planning. The awards—$1.8 million in Rhode Island and Massachusetts—were selected through a rigorous competitive process, with the advice of an independent, interdisciplinary committee of coastal scientists and managers. RAE received more than 40 grant applications totaling more than $10 million in requests from which the 2020 grants were selected. With non-federal match, these SNEP grants will result in more than $2.3 million in new project funding for Southeast New England's coastal ecosystems and communities in 2020.

Below are brief summaries of the 11 awards planned for 2020 SNEP Watershed Grants. While significant changes are not expected, the awards are not final until grant contracts have been fully executed. Dollar figures below are award amounts; grantees provide at least 33% in additional non-federal funding toward each project.

Summary of 2020 Awards

Rhode Island

Town of Warren: Market to Metacom: Adaptation and Economic Development $91,875
The Town of Warren, RI, will work with local property owners to create a sustainable redevelopment plan for a highly vulnerable, flood-prone and economically distressed area. The project will foster climate resilience, economic development, and environmental equity.

City of Providence: Woonasquatucket River Greenway $250,000
This funding will support ongoing work by the City of Providence, RI Dept. of Transportation, and non-profit organizations to develop greenspace and improve water quality along an urban river. The work will promote environmental justice, economic development and climate resilience in an underserved neighborhood.

RI Division of Marine Fisheries: Oyster Habitat Conservation and Restoration Planning $150,000
This grant will support a partnership between RI Div. of Marine Fisheries, Northeastern University and The Nature Conservancy to undertake research necessary toward developing a statewide oyster restoration plan. The team will study natural and restored oyster reefs in Narragansett Bay and Rhode Island’s coastal ponds; the information will ultimately be used to identify sites for oyster restoration and to assess the success of oyster restoration efforts.

Town of South Kingstown: Green Hill Pond Stormwater Plan $100,000
With this funding, the Town of South Kingstown, RI, will undertake a watershed-scale assessment and stormwater management plan for a valuable coastal pond, working closely with local stakeholders. Once implemented, the plan will benefit clean water, shellfish resources and estuarine fish such as migratory river herring.

University of Rhode Island: Mt. Hope Bay Water Quality Monitoring $301,289
This grant will fund equipment, data analysis and management for real-time water quality monitoring in Mt. Hope Bay, Narragansett Bay's largest sub-estuary. The project fills a critical gap in Narragansett Bay monitoring and dovetails with a 2018 SNEP Watershed Grant that funded similar equipment elsewhere in the Bay.


Pleasant Bay Alliance: Nitrogen Management in Pleasant Bay $132,178
Pleasant Bay is the largest estuary on Cape Cod. Its waters are an exceptional public resource for fishing, shellfishing and recreation, but are threatened by pollution from septic systems and other sources of nitrogen. This grant will support a partnership among the Towns of Chatham, Orleans, Harwich and Brewster to implement innovative solutions to reduce pollution and ensure clean water for residents and visitors to Cape Cod.

Buzzards Bay Coalition: Multi-Community Collaboration to Reduce Nitrogen in Upper Buzzards Bay $118,275
This grant continues funding to the Buzzards Bay Coalition to lead a large-scale partnership among the Towns of Wareham, Bourne, Plymouth, and Marion, MA, and the Mass. Maritime Academy, to complete engineering and other studies aimed at expanding the capacity and service area of the Wareham wastewater treatment plant. When implemented, this project will have an enormous positive impact on clean water for Buzzards Bay.

Friends of Bass River: Upper Bass River Watershed Restoration $253,779
With this award, a local watershed organization will complete engineering and permitting to reconnect historic cranberry bog wetlands with the riparian system of Cape Cod's largest river by replacing failed road crossings in Yarmouth, MA. The project will improve both freshwater and estuarine habitat through improved water quality and fish passage restoration.

Mt. Holyoke College: Bioreactors for Nitrogen Removal in Coastal Cranberry Farms $232,352
This project will implement and study the effectiveness of an innovative, low-tech method for reducing nitrogen pollution to coastal waters from cranberry farming operations with installations in Barnstable, MA, and could provide a model for restoring water quality in other degraded areas.

Center for Coastal Studies: Ecosystem Research Conference for Pleasant Bay $8,984
This grant will support a conference to inform stakeholders about the state of the science on Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod's largest estuary. This grant dovetails with SNEP Watershed Grants' support of the Pleasant Bay Alliance, described above.

Mass. Audubon Society: Protecting Salt Marshes $150,000
This grant will fund a variety of science and restoration activities at coastal sanctuaries on Buzzards Bay in Wareham and Dartmouth, MA. The project will improve our understanding of the impacts of sea level rise on salt marshes; implement innovative restoration techniques to address such impacts; and monitor the results of the work.

For more about EPA's Southeast New England Program and SNEP Watershed Grants and