The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management today announced that $75,000 grants are available to communities and private businesses that own and/or operate boating facilities that are accessible to the public. The grants, funded by the US Fish & Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act (CVA), support construction and maintenance of marine and land-based pump-out facilities to assist boaters with properly disposing of sewage. Every year, DEM applies for federal funds to buy or replace CVA equipment for use by municipalities and private marinas to offer pump-outs. Since 1994, DEM has awarded over $2 million in CVA grants.
“Coastal Rhode Island waters are classified as a no-discharge zone, meaning it’s illegal to pump waste within three nautical miles of the Rhode Island coast,” DEM Acting Director Terry Gray said. “CVA grants empower thousands of Rhode Island recreational boaters to do their part to keep our waterways clean by using subsidized pump-out service to properly dispose of their sewage.”
DEM works with partners to reduce pollution into local waters. Boat sewage poses a potential threat to water quality by introducing bacteria and other pathogens and chemicals that are harmful to humans and marine life. This pollution is also a major factor in harmful algae blooms. In 1998, Rhode Island became the first state in the nation to receive a statewide “no discharge” designation from the US Environmental Protection Agency that prohibits boaters from discharging sewage into local waterways.
There are currently 17 pump-out boats and 40 landside facilities located across Narragansett Bay and coastal waters. Many existing facilities require repair and upgrades as they have exceeded their useful life expectancy since initial construction. All pump-out facilities must be kept fully operational to adequately meet the demand. Some 40,000 boats are registered in Rhode Island, and the state welcomes many thousands more visiting boats each year. Last year, a total volume of over 600,000 gallons of sewage was pumped out at these locations and diverted from directly entering Rhode Island’s surface waters. Visit DEM’s website for a map of marine pump-out facilities in Rhode Island.
Marinas, yacht clubs, and municipalities are eligible to apply for funding. Projects to construct, replace, retrofit, or maintain pump-out facilities will be considered. Up to $18,750 is available for land-based projects, and up to $56,250 is available for pump-out boat facilities. Up to $4,875 is available for operations and maintenance expenses related to a pump-out boat, and up to $1,875 is available for operations and maintenance expenses related to a land based pump-out facility. A 25 percent funding match is required. All facilities that receive CVA grants must be open to the public and may not charge more than $5 per 25 gallons pumped. To receive grant funding for operations and maintenance of land based pump-out facilities, the operator of the facility agrees to not charge boaters any fees for pump-out services.
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