newport pump out

Rhode Island DEM Awards $139,254 in Grants to Enhance Boat Pump-Out Facilities

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has announced the award of $139,254 in matching grants to support the expansion and maintenance of boat pump-out facilities across the state. Funded under the US Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Clean Vessel Act (CVA), these grants will back seven projects aimed at preserving water quality in Rhode Island waters. Since 1994, DEM has distributed over $2.5 million in CVA Clean Vessel grants.

“Most of us know it’s not right to discharge wastewater directly from our boats into Narragansett Bay or the ocean. In fact, it’s illegal to pump waste within three nautical miles of the Rhode Island coast,” said DEM Director Terry Gray. “DEM works with municipal and marine trades partners to prevent the discharge of boat sewage, which impairs water quality by introducing bacteria and other pathogens and chemicals that are harmful to humans and marine life. The support of the USFWS CVA helps accomplish this by subsidizing pump-out facilities that empower thousands of Rhode Island recreational boaters to do their part to keep the bay and our local waters clean, which are central to the Ocean State’s environment, way of life, and economy.”

Boat sewage poses a significant threat to water quality by introducing harmful bacteria, pathogens, and chemicals. In 1998, Rhode Island was the first state to receive a statewide “no discharge” designation from the US Environmental Protection Agency, prohibiting the discharge of boat sewage into local waterways.

The 2024 grant recipients include:

  • Stanley’s Boat Yard – $4,775 for replacing an existing stationary pump-out and purchasing a mobile cart for the Barrington River.
  • Greenwich Cove Marina – $29,200 for constructing a new stationary pump-out in Greenwich Cove.
  • Providence Marina – $1,100 for maintaining a stationary pump-out in the Providence River.
  • Barrington Yacht Club – $1,477 for maintaining a stationary pump-out in the Barrington River.
  • Town of New Shoreham – $6,550 for maintaining five existing mobile pump-out boats in Great Salt Pond.
  • Town of Bristol – $86,487 for purchasing a new pump-out boat for Bristol Harbor.
  • Town of Westerly – $9,665 for maintaining two existing pump-out boats in the Pawcatuck River.

Rhode Island currently operates 63 marine sanitation pump-out facilities: 48 dockside and 15 pump-out boats. These facilities, many of which need repairs and upgrades, are essential for preventing sewage discharges into state waters. The grants require a 25% funding match, and funded facilities must be accessible to all boaters, charging no more than $5 per 30 gallons of sewage pumped.

With around 40,000 boats registered in Rhode Island and many more visiting annually, maintaining these pump-out facilities is crucial. Last year alone, over 600,000 gallons of sewage were pumped out and diverted from Rhode Island’s coastal waters.

These efforts benefit various commercial and recreational interests, including Rhode Island’s shellfish harvesters, by helping maintain clean and safe water conditions. For a map of marine pump-out facilities in Rhode Island, visit the DEM’s website.




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