PROVIDENCE – Governor Dan McKee and The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced it has awarded $75,000 in grants to seven communities and private businesses that own and/or operate pump-out facilities that help boaters with properly disposing of sewage. The grants, funded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act (CVA), will support five projects in Narragansett Bay, one facility in Point Judith Pond, and one pump-out boat on the Pawcatuck River. Every year, DEM applies for federal funds to buy or replace CVA equipment for use by municipalities and private marinas to offer low cost pump-outs. Since 1994, DEM has awarded over $2 million in CVA grants.
"Most of us know it's not right to discharge wastewater directly from our boats into Narragansett Bay or the ocean. In fact, it's illegal to pump waste within three nautical miles of the Rhode Island coast," said DEM Acting Director Terry Gray. "DEM works with municipal and marine trades partners to prevent the discharge of boat sewage, which impairs water quality by introducing bacteria and other pathogens and chemicals that are harmful to humans and marine life. The support of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act helps accomplish this by subsidizing pump-out facilities that empower thousands of Rhode Island recreational boaters to do their part to keep the bay and coastal waters clean."
The recent grant recipients are:
• Town of South Kingstown – $18,750 for the replacement of an existing stationary pump-out at Ram Point Marina in Pt. Judith Pond
• Newport Yacht Club – $3,000 for the maintenance of a stationary pump-out in Newport Harbor
• Barrington Yacht Club – $1,875 for the maintenance of a stationary pump-out in Bristol Harbor
• Town of Jamestown – $1,575 for the maintenance of two stationary pump-outs in Jamestown
• Town of Westerly – $13,300 for a new outboard engine for a pump-out boat serving the Pawcatuck River and Little Narragansett Bay
• Safe Harbor Cowesett North Yard – $18,750 for the replacement of an existing stationary pump-out in Greenwich Bay
• Safe Harbor Cowesett South Yard – $18,750 for the replacement of an existing stationary pumpout in Greenwich Bay
There are currently 15 pump-out boats and 59 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. Around 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 surface waters. Visit DEM's website for a map of marine pump-out facilities in Rhode Island.
New this year, DEM has partnered with the San Francisco Estuary Partnership to upload all publicly accessible pumpout facility data to the Pump-out Nav Application, available on Android Play and iOS Apple stores. This free phone application allows boaters to locate and get directions to the nearest pump-out station, view cost information and hours of operation, and report any problems encountered while using the pump-out facility.
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.
For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit www.dem.ri.gov. Follow DEM on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.