Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program announced
The EPA joined state and local dignitaries formally launching the Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program, which serves as a framework to promote a broad ecosystem approach to protect and restore the coastal watersheds of Southeast New England.
BOSTON, MA, Oct. 16, 2014 -- On Wednesday, Oct. 15, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) joined state and local dignitaries formally launching the Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program, which serves as a framework to promote a broad ecosystem approach to protect and restore the coastal watersheds of Southeast New England (coastal areas from Westerly, R.I., to Chatham, Mass., including all waters of Rhode Island, southern Cape Cod, Narragansett Bay, and Buzzards Bay).
The program, consisting of government and non-government organizations, is currently working collaboratively and innovatively to maintain and improve water quality and habitat conditions within these coastal watersheds. In collaboration with a diverse array of stakeholders, the program will focus on developing and promoting innovations in restoration and protection practices, development of new, more efficient technologies, and application of new policies to these new approaches. A critical element of this program will be to prepare for climate change impacts and highlight the need to build resilience into all decision-making.
Partners include key federal and state resource agencies, local organizations, and the two local National Estuary Programs in Narragansett Bay, R.I., and Buzzards Bay, Mass. To help commence work to advance protection of these coastal waters, EPA also announced grant funding of $728,559 to Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) (Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program) to fund six sub-awards in the Buzzard's Bay watershed; and $723,869 to the host agency for the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program, the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), 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 best management practice (BMP) designs in Barnstable and Chatham, Mass. The two Cape Cod communities will help develop and pilot designs including an innovative stormwater BMP 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 BMP. The goal of this project is to develop a stormwater BMP that can be shared with other New England communities.
The program will work with stakeholders to develop an overall planning framework and action agenda that builds on and complements the planning and implementation capacities of the numerous entities engaged in this area. By integrating habitat, water quality and physical processes as parts of a complete whole, the Southeast New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program will serve as an ecosystem framework for thinking and acting regionally. The goal is to collaborate to share best practices, maximize resources and opportunities, and build local program capacity to sustain this unique approach over the long term.