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DEM Announces Pump-Out Grant Availability to Help Boaters Properly Dispose of Sewage and Keep Coastal Waters Clean

PROVIDENCE The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced grants are available to communities and private businesses that own and/or operate boating facilities available to the public. The grants, funded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act (CVA), support construction and maintenance of marine and land-based pump-out facilities to assist boaters with properly disposing of sewage. Since 1994, DEM has awarded nearly $2 million in CVA grants.

"We encourage our coastal communities and marinas to apply for these grants to improve pump-out infrastructure around the state," 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."

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 and chemicals that are toxic to humans and marine life. This pollution also is a major factor in harmful algae blooms. In 1998, Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to receive a statewide "no discharge" designation from the US Environmental Protection Agency that prohibits boaters from discharging sewage into local waterways.

There are currently 17 pump-out boats and 49 landside facilities located at 66 locations across Narragansett Bay and 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 locations 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.

Marinas, yacht clubs, and municipalities are eligible to apply for funding. Projects to construct, replace, retrofit, or maintain pump-out facilities will be considered. Up to $18,750 is available for land-based projects, and up to $56,250 is available for pump-out boat facilities. A 25% funding match is required. All facilities that receive CVA grants must be open to the public and may not charge more than $5 per 25 gallons pumped. This is the first year that grants can be given to defray operating and maintenance costs associated with pump-out vessels, provided that the applicant's financial records establish that such costs exceed fee revenues.

For more information or to download an application, click here.

Applications should be mailed to DEM Office of Water Resources, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908 or emailed to All applications are due by 4 PM, Tuesday, March 31, 2020.

Follow DEM on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) or Facebook at for more information on boating in Rhode Island as well as other timely updates.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management
  • Online:
  • Release date: 03-02-2020

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