The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) announced the award of $37,500 in matching grants to help communities and businesses invest in boat pump-out facilities across Rhode Island. The grants are funded under the US Fish & Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act (CVA) and support two projects along the Sakonnet River and East Middle Bay in Portsmouth. Since 1994, DEM has awarded more than $2 million in CVA grants.
“We are pleased to award these grants to improve Rhode Island’s boat pump-out infrastructure,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “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. Narragansett Bay is the lifeblood of Rhode Island, and each year tens of thousands of boaters venture out to enjoy the beauty, bounty, and tranquility of this precious natural resource.”
The grant recipients are:
- Safe Harbors Sakonnet Marina: $18,750 (Sakonnet River – Portsmouth) to replace an existing pump and fixed-based pump-out station.
- Safe Harbors New England Boatworks: $18,750 (East Middle Bay – Portsmouth) to fund a new land-based facility.
DEM works with partners to reduce pollution into local waters. Boat sewage poses a significant threat to water quality by introducing bacteria and other pathogens that can jeopardize public health. In 1998, Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to receive a statewide “no discharge” designation from the US Environmental Protection Agency prohibiting boaters from discharging sewage into local waterways.
There are currently 15 pump-out boats and 48 landside facilities located across Narragansett Bay and RI coastal waters. Many existing facilities require repair and upgrades as they have exceeded their useful life expectancy since initial construction. All pump-out facilities must be kept fully operational to adequately meet the demand. Some 40,000 boats are registered in Rhode Island, and the state welcomes many thousands more visiting boats each year. Last year, a total volume of over 600,000 gallons of sewage was pumped out at these facilities and diverted from directly entering Rhode Island’s coastal waters. Visit DEM’s website for a map of marine pump-out facilities in Rhode Island.
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.