For Immediate Release - May 15, 2014

Patrick Administration Announces New Grant Program to Restore Water Quality in Southern New England Coastal Watershed

BOSTON – Thursday, May 15, 2014 – Energy and Environmental Affairs (EEA) Secretary Rick Sullivan today announced a new grant program to help improve water quality in Buzzards Bay and its watershed. Part of a broader U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) effort to address common water quality problems in the region, the grants will focus on reducing nutrient pollution from fertilizers, septic systems and other sources to both fresh and saltwater systems. The grants will be made available to nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, municipalities and other government agencies.

“This new grant program recognizes that wastewater discharges, runoff and other pollution sources that convey nutrients and other contaminants follow watershed boundaries, not state boundaries,” said Secretary Sullivan. “We applaud EPA’s support for local actions that address regional needs and improve water quality for residents and visitors to this important coastal region.”

EPA has received $2 million to fund projects from Westerly, Rhode Island, to Pleasant Bay, Massachusetts. These funds will be provided through the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program and Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. EPA is working on a parallel track to fund priority nutrient projects on Cape Cod between the Buzzards Bay watershed and Pleasant Bay in Chatham. The new grant program is part of the Southern New England Coastal Watershed Restoration Program, a partnership of public and private groups working to protect, enhance and restore southern New England waters. This group supported making nutrient pollution, which has been identified as one of the most significant water quality issues facing this region, the focus of the first year of grants.

"Reducing pollution and improving water quality is critical to the health and well-being of our families, our communities, and our environment," said Senator Elizabeth Warren. "I am very glad the EPA has launched this new program on the South Coast. By bringing federal, state, and local government agencies together with private stakeholders, this effort will help communities tackle shared challenges and protect southern New England's watersheds.”

"Buzzards Bay is a vital part of southern Massachusetts’ coast. This new grant program will support innovative ideas to improve water quality and habitat,” said Senator Edward J. Markey. “Encouraging cooperation and collaboration with stakeholders in Massachusetts and the region is the best way to develop effective solutions to the challenges facing the southern New England coast.”

"This new grant program is the result of years of collaboration between federal, state, and local stakeholders and will provide a unified approach to the shared challenge of combating nutrient pollution," said Rep. Bill Keating, who represents the Commonwealth's South Shore, South Coast, Cape, and Islands. "I commend its establishment, as well as the efforts of those who helped to make it possible, and believe it will achieve critical progress toward preserving and protecting our fragile coastal ecosystems. I also remain committed to ensuring preservation of this program through future federal funding.”

“Our region’s water quality impacts every piece of our economy, from our fisheries and farms to our tourism and clean energy industries,” said Congressman Joe Kennedy III. “This new grant program will help our Commonwealth and surrounding states work together to address current contamination as well as reduce the potential for future pollution of our water supply. I commend the Patrick Administration and the EPA for their continued efforts to protect our local environment.”

“This new program fills a critical void to address the challenge of nutrient pollution adversely affecting our vital coastal resources and communities,” said Curt Spalding, EPA Region 1 Administrator. “Taking a bi-state approach to problem solving is essential to building more resilient communities and will encourage innovative and transferrable approaches that would benefit not only Southern New England but the whole Northeast.”

“The Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program, which works directly with local communities to improve the region’s water quality and habitat, is in a perfect place to launch this new grant program,” said Bruce Carlisle, Director of the state’s Office of Coastal Zone Management.

“These grants will encourage municipalities, private groups and businesses to work together and share resources to solve serious water quality problems in Buzzards Bay in innovative, collaborative and effective ways,” said Joseph Costa, Executive Director of the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program.

While the exact funding allocation for the program has not yet been determined, the Request for Proposals (RFP) specifies that between $500,000 and $1 million in federal funds will be available to each estuary program. The maximum award for a single project will be $400,000, but smaller projects are encouraged. The availability of grants is being concurrently announced by the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program. Two-page pre-proposals are due June 9.

For information about how to apply for projects within the Buzzards Bay watershed, see http://restore.buzzardsbay.org/grants.html. For projects in the Narragansett Bay watershed, see http://www.neiwpcc.org/contractors/opportunities.asp.

Created in 1985, the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program provides grants and technical assistance to South Coast and Cape Cod communities to protect and restore water quality and natural resources in Buzzards Bay and its surrounding watershed and is one of 28 similar programs designated by EPA.

The Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) administers the Buzzards Bay National Estuary Program. CZM is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Through planning, technical and grant assistance and public information programs, CZM seeks to balance the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources. The agency's work includes helping coastal communities anticipate and plan for sea level rise and other effects of climate change, working with cities and towns and the federal government to develop boat sewage no discharge areas and partnering with communities and other organizations to restore coastal and aquatic habitats.

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