newport pump out

Grants Available To Improve Pump-Out Infrastructure And Keep Rhode Island Coastal Waters Clean

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today announced grants are available to communities and private businesses that own and/or operate boating facilities available 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. Since 1994, DEM has awarded nearly $2 million in CVA grants.

“We are pleased to support the efforts of our coastal communities and marinas to improve pump-out infrastructure around the state through these grants,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “Over the years, projects funded with pump-out grants have played an important role in helping to reduce a major source of contamination to Narragansett Bay and the state’s coastal waters, including the bacteria that can cause shellfish closures.”

DEM works with partners to reduce pollution into local waters. Boat sewage poses a significant threat to water quality by introducing bacteria and other pathogens and chemicals that are toxic to humans and marine life. This pollution also is 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 48 landside facilities located at 65 locations 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 coastal 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. In addition, grants may be awarded to defray operating and maintenance costs associated with pump-out facilities, under the condition that the applicant agrees to waive usage fees; up to $4,875 is available for such expenses related to a pump-out boat, and up to $1,875 for operating and maintenance expenses related to a land-based pump-out facility. A 25% 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.

For more information or to download an application, click here.

Applications should be mailed to DEM Office of Water Resources, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908 or emailed to All applications are due by 4 PM, Friday, March 12, 2021.