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EPA Announces $800,000 to Improve Fish Habitat and Water Quality in Narragansett Bay

Release Date: 05/02/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

BOSTON - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today announced a $800,000 grant to support fish restoration projects and water quality improvements in Narragansett Bay and its tributaries. The grant is among nearly $15 million of grants awarded today to 20 watershed organizations across the country as part of the agency's new Watershed Initiative.

Today's announcement comes one year after President Bush, in his State of the Union Address, asked the nation's governors and tribal leaders to submit proposals to support community-based approaches to clean up the nation's watersheds. This year Congress appropriated $15 million of the President's original $20 million request.

"This national competition for these Watershed Initiative grants generated a torrent of outstanding proposals," said EPA Administrator Christie Whitman, who announced the winners today in New Jersey. "EPA is very excited to commit significant federal dollars to support these top watershed efforts, all of which will serve as national models for other communities to follow."

"This award is a big win for Narragansett Bay, the rivers that flow into it, and the people who live in the watershed," said Rhode Island Governor Donald Carcieri.

The Narragansett Bay project – an interstate proposal from Rhode Island and Massachusetts that will be implemented through a coalition known as the Partnership for Narragansett Bay – was selected from among more than 176 nominations. It is one of only three projects selected in New England, the other two being a $400,000 grant to the Charles River Watershed Association for work in the Charles River and $700,000 to the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians for work in the Meduxnekeag River in Maine.

The $800,000 will support water quality/habitat improvement projects in Narragansett Bay and a half-dozen fish restoration projects in tributaries of the bay. The projects include:

    • eelgrass restoration and monitoring work on Narragansett Bay, totaling nearly $300,000, which will be handled primarily by Save The Bay in partnership with the University of Rhode Island.
    • restoration of herring and shad runs on the Pawtuxet River
    • installation of two fish ladders on the Three Mile River (a tributary of the Taunton River)
    • rehabilitation of the fishway at the Bradford Dam on the Wood-Pawcatuck River
    • stormwater remediation work to improve fish habitat and water quality at the Narrow River fish run in Rhode Island and Whitings Pond and Leesville Pond, both in Massachusetts.
"These projects will result in cleaner water, healthier habitats and more bountiful fisheries in all corners of Narragansett Bay," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "This grant is a perfect example of the greater good that can be achieved when groups and agencies work in tandem on a cross-boundary issue such as the Narragansett Bay watershed."

"Many people in Rhode Island and Massachusetts worked hard – and quite successfully – to create a strong, multi-faceted proposal featuring a series of important projects that will lead to healthier rivers and a healthier Bay," Governor Carcieri said. "These improvements will provide clear environmental as well as economic benefits. This award recognizes that strong watershed-based partnerships are critical to effective environmental restoration and protection. I offer my sincere thanks to EPA as well as to Senator Chafee and the rest of our congressional delegation for their support."

"Narragansett Bay is a precious resource treasured by residents of Rhode Island and Massachusetts alike," added Massachusetts Environmental Affairs Secretary Ellen Roy Herzfelder. "EPA's strong support of community-based initiatives such as the Partnership for Narragansett Bay will help to ensure that Narragansett Bay continues to be a source of beauty for all to enjoy."

The Partnership for Narragansett Bay is a broad-based, bi-state watershed stakeholder group created after a Narragansett Bay Summit was held in 2000. Among the priorities identified at the summit:

    • Promoting integrated environmental and economic planning for the future of Narragansett Bay;
    • Protecting, restoring and improving the Narragansett Bay, its watersheds, and coastal pond ecosystems;
    • Fostering informed, science-based decision-making;
    • Pursuing sustainable economic development for Narragansett Bay.