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EPA Honors Town of Narragansett, RI for Clean Water Actions

Release Date: 04/01/2003
Contact Information: Peyton Fleming, EPA Press Office, 617-918-1008 Jeff Ceasrine, Town of Narragansett (401-789-1044)

WASHINGTON, DC – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency today honored the Town of Narragansett, R.I. for its work in reducing pollution entering the Narrow River. The town, one of 79 selected nationally as a ‘Clean Water Partner for the 21st Century,' was honored at a ceremony this morning in Washington by EPA Administrator Christie Whitman.

EPA's Office of Water created the Clean Water Partners Awards as part of the celebration of the Year of Clean Water. The awards are designed to recognize extraordinary actions taken by local governments to protect watersheds over and above the requirements of the Clean Water Act, focusing on the leadership role that local governments are playing in their own organizations and their efforts to mobilize other partners in the watershed. Honorees were reviewed by a panel including EPA, the Water Environment Federation, Association of Metropolitan Sewerage Agencies and the National League of Cities.

"We received about 200 applications from across the U. S. and after careful review, 79 were chosen as Clean Water Partners," said G. Tracy Mehan III, EPA Assistant Administrator for Water, who joined Whitman at today's ceremony. "It is our belief that clean water begins at the local level. We applaud the efforts of all Clean Water Partners to improve the environment in the communities they serve."

"Narragansett's vision and leadership has made a huge difference in protecting the Narrow River, one of the town's most important natural resources," said Robert W. Varney, regional administrator of EPA's New England Office. "The town has showed first-hand that partnerships between the government, and the people they represent, can yield enormous benefits. The town deserves recognition for its outstanding work."

Narragansett is a small coastal community that has undertaken numerous watershed initiatives aimed at protecting water quality and habitat in the Narrow River. Among the completed activities in the 3,200-acre watershed:

    • connecting 1,200 properties in eight densely-populated neighborhoods along the river to the sewer lines. The program eliminated a significant number of failed or failing individual septic systems.
    • a program with Narrow River Preservation Association and the Narrow River Land Trust to offer assessment waiver options for property owners who wished to forfeit their development rights.
    • a completed Individual Sewage Disposal System (ISDS) Management Plan that supports and enhances an existing ordnance requiring regular, mandatory septic-tank pump-outs, as well as advanced systems in environmentally critical areas.
    • a detailed study of the watershed to identify developed lots that weren't connected to sanitary sewers. The goal was to locate potential ‘smoking guns' in the watershed, especially older septic systems that have failed.
    • working with the Narragansett Land Conservancy Trust to acquire large undeveloped parcels in the Crooked Brook watershed, the second largest tributary to the river. Since 1996, the trust has added by gift and grant 75 acres in 16 parcels to the 250 acres already in town ownership in this tributary's watershed.
Other award winners in New England were the Norwalk River Watershed Initiative in Norwalk, CT, the Auburn Water District in Auburn, MA and the town of Portage Lake, Maine