The following is from a press release.
The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is now accepting applications from qualified public and private marinas, yacht clubs, and municipalities to construct, replace, retrofit and maintain marine pump-out boats and land-based pump-out facilities.
Up to $18,750 is available for each land-based facility grant, and up to $56,250 is available for each pump-out boat. Each type requires a 25 percent match. A total of $680,000 in U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act funds provided to DEM is available to be awarded through this grant round.
In 1998, Rhode Island became the first state in the country to receive the US Environmental Protection Agency's "No Discharge" designation, which prohibits the discharge of sewage into surrounding waters. Boat sewage can degrade water quality by introducing bacteria, pathogens, and chemicals, harmful to humans and marine life, and by introducing excess nutrients that stimulate algae blooms which deplete oxygen. Over the past 14 years, DEM has been educating boaters about the law, boosting efforts to enforce the law, and working to assure a sufficient number of pump-out facilities for boaters' convenience.
"Providing well-maintained and readily-available marine pump-out facilities is critical to the health of our beloved Narragansett Bay," said Governor Lincoln Chafee. "I encourage coastal communities and marinas throughout the Ocean State to take advantage of this outstanding opportunity for funds that can be used to maintain or repair existing facilities or to purchase a new pump-out boat or equipment."
To maintain the "No Discharge" designation for the state's marine waters, DEM must assure that the state's pump-out facility infrastructure is in sound operating condition. Through the ongoing grant program, DEM has worked with the marina industry to achieve this objective.
"This public-private partnership has reduced a major source of contamination to the state's coastal waters, including those waters near swiming and shellfish harvesting areas," noted DEM Director Janet Coit. "Our marinas have been terrific to work with, and really positive about promoting this effort. Their commitment to providing conveniently located and properly functioning marine pump-out facilities has been critical to our efforts to ensure that Rhode Island boaters properly dispose of their waste."
To date, DEM has awarded more than $1.4 million in Clean Vessel Act funds for pump-out facilities to make it convenient for boaters to dispose of boat sewage properly. There are currently 16 pump-out boats and 47 land-side facilities available to boaters in Rhode Island waters. However, additional facilities are needed to serve the boats that use Rhode Island waters each year.
Applications for the current round of funding are available on DEM's website, www.dem.ri.gov, by clicking on "Topics," then "Sewage Treatment," then "Marine Pump-outs." They are also available at DEM's Office of Water Resources at 235 Promenade Street in Providence weekdays, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. The deadline for submitting applications is August 17. DEM expects to announce selected projects and begin issuing grant agreements by the end of August.