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EPA Administrator Whitman and Governor Carcieri Visit Narrow River

Release Date: 05/16/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008

NARRAGANSETT, RI - Flanked by dozens of state and local partners, EPA Administrator Christie Whitman and Rhode Island Governor Don Carcieri visited the Narrow River today to celebrate the recent announcement of an $800,000 EPA grant to support fish restoration projects and water quality improvements in Narragansett Bay and its tributaries.

Overlooking a river that will directly benefit from the grant, Whitman praised the states of Rhode Island and Massachusetts for submitting a “standout” proposal that was selected from among more than 176 nominations from across the country. The grant was awarded to the Partnership for Narragansett Bay, one of 20 watershed organizations nationwide that received funding as part of the agency's new $15 million Watershed Initiative.

“It was the close cooperation between the state of Rhode Island and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, coupled with the high level of community involvement, that made this project stand out from the crowd,” Whitman said. “I look forward to returning two years from now to see cleaner water and other measurable environmental improvements – such as the return of eelgrass beds in the Bay and larger numbers of herring and shad in the bay’s tributaries.”

“We're very proud that - as Governor Whitman has said - our proposal to protect the Narragansett Bay watershed was selected from over 176 submissions, and will serve as a model for other states,” Governor Carcieri said. "Narragansett Bay is our state's most treasured natural resource. There's nothing that Rhode Islanders enjoy more than spending a day on the Bay. These funds will go a long way in enabling us to protect our Bay, enhance water quality and preserve our watershed."

“This grant opens up new opportunities for using inter-state collaboration to look at the Narragansett Bay watershed from a holistic standpoint,” added Karl W. Honkonen, director of water policy at the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs, who attended today’s gathering. “Sixty percent of the Greater Narragansett Bay watershed is in Masssachusetts, so we need to do our part to protect the water and the ecosystem because it has a big impact downstream in Rhode Island.”

The $800,000 grant will support water quality/habitat improvement projects in Narragansett Bay and a half-dozen fish restoration projects in tributaries of the bay. Among those projects is an $85,000 stormwater remediation project to reduce sediment loadings in a narrow section of the Narrow River in Narragansett. The work is expected to improve water clarity and the overall health of the fish run.

Among the other projects being funded:

    • eelgrass restoration and monitoring work on Narragansett Bay, totaling nearly $300,000, which will be handled primarily by Save The Bay in partnership with the University of Rhode Island.
    • restoration of herring and shad runs on the Pawtuxet River
    • installation of two fish ladders on the Three Mile River (a tributary of the Taunton River)
    • rehabilitation of the fishway at the Bradford Dam on the Wood-Pawcatuck River
    • stormwater remediation work to improve fish habitat and water quality at Whitings Pond and Leesville Pond, both in Massachusetts.
The projects will be implemented through the Partnership for Narragansett Bay, a broad-based, bi-state watershed stakeholder group created after a Narragansett Bay Summit was held in 2000.

Whitman’s visit to Rhode Island also included a stop at the EPA’s Atlantic Ecology Division Laboratory in Narragansett which is part of the URI Bay Campus complex. Whitman, who is visiting numerous EPA’s laboratories across the country as part of Environmental Science Month at EPA, met with EPA staff and dedicated a new addition at the facility. The AED Lab, under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Garber, is a leading research facility for evaluating the condition of coastal waters and other aquatic environments.