Newport Green Infrastructure Project Brings Community Together To Protect Narragansett Bay Watershed

A new green infrastructure installation is collecting polluted stormwater and protecting the Narragansett Bay watershed. The installation at Pell Elementary School in Newport slows down stormwater, allowing it to more naturally absorb into the ground instead of sweeping pollutants into the watershed.

The location of the installation was a community effort led by the Eastern Rhode Island Conservation District (ERICD). Sara Churgin, ERICD District Manager, said, “We are so excited about this project because the location of the installation was decided through community engagement sessions within Newport’s North End neighborhood. After hosting stormwater education sessions and engaging the community, they decided that this location at Pell Elementary would be the best spot for this installment.”

Water enters the system in two areas. The first opening is a soft opening designed for light rainstorms. It is lined with plants, which absorb the stormwater. The second opening catches water at high velocity rates from the above paved areas. This opening is lined with riprap stone to slow the water entering the system. Once the water enters the system, it is first stored in a fore bay and then overflows into a second bay. Both bays were dug out four feet and filled with stone and engineered soil. The second bay was then planted to help suck up water using the plants.

Combined, the bays treat 11,700 gallons of water per one-quarter inch rain event. Once the system is filled up (11,700 gallons) the water is still treated by slowing it down enough using riprap. Prior to this system being installed, the water would run quickly over the drains, causing flooding and allowing polluted water to enter the watershed.

Partners for the projected include ERICD, Rhode Island Department of Transportation, the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank, City of Newport, the Women’s Resource Center, the Newport Health Equity Zone and North End residents, with funding provided by The Funders Network, van Beuren Charitable Foundation, Prince Charitable Trusts and the Rhode Island Foundation. Installation was done by Groundwork Rhode Island.




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