EPA Announces Formation of Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program

On Oct. 15, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the launch of the Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program. The new program will serve as a framework to promote a broad ecosystem approach to protecting and restoring the coastal watersheds of southeast New England. The area covered under this program will include coastal areas from Westerly, R.I. to Chatham, Mass. as well as all waters of Rhode Island, southern Cape Cod, Narragansett Bay, and Buzzards Bay.

In collaboration with a diverse array of stakeholders — including key federal and state resource agencies, local organizations, and the two local National Estuary Programs in Narragansett Bay, R.I. and Buzzards Bay, Mass. — the program will focus on developing and promoting innovations in restoration and protection practices. It will seek to establish new, more efficient technologies and application of new policies for these innovative approaches. A critical element of this program will be to prepare for climate change effects and highlight the need to build resilience into all decision-making.

To help commence work in these coastal waters, EPA also announced grant funding of $728,559 to Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management to fund six sub-awards in the Buzzard’s Bay watershed. Additionally, EPA provided $723,869 to the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission, the host agency for the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, to fund six sub-awards in the Narragansett Bay watershed.

In addition, EPA has allocated $500,000 in technical assistance funds to develop preliminary stormwater control designs in Barnstable and Chatham, Mass. The two Cape Cod communities will help develop and pilot designs including an innovative stormwater control that will tie into existing infrastructure and treat stormwater for both pathogens and nitrogen. Based on technical feasibility and total cost, one of these communities will be selected to move forward with construction of the stormwater control. The goal of this project is to develop a stormwater control that can be shared with other New England communities. Read more.

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