Town receives pump-out boat grant

Fri, 10/06/2017 - 8:30am

Block Island has received grant funding that will help the town’s Harbors Department acquire the equipment necessary to keep its waters clean.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management has awarded the Town of New Shoreham a matching grant of $56,250 to purchase a new 19-foot pump-out boat for Old Harbor. The grant, funded under DEM’s U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act, supporting ten projects in nine Rhode Island communities, requires a 25 percent funding match.

New Shoreham First Warden Ken Lacoste told The Block Island Times that “any time the town can get any funding to help the town’s programs it’s a good thing. We know how important the pump-out program is” to keeping the harbor clean. “It is very important for the town to provide pump-out services in both harbors to reflect our commitment to having clean harbors.”

“We are pleased that the town was able to succeed in securing the largest grant awarded to communities in this round of CVA grants,” said Lacoste. “The town will purchase, and have built, a pump-out boat with a 250-gallon waste tank to service Old Harbor, replacing the 23-year-old boat, which was refitted for pump-out service around 2006. The vessel will have a 90-horsepower four-stroke motor and will be built this winter. Matching funds have been budgeted by the town to complete this purchase in the current budget.”

Harbormaster Steve Land said the Harbors Department was “excited to be receiving funding to purchase a new Old Harbor pump-out boat.”

DEM Director Janet Coit told The Times that, “By supporting efforts to improve pump-out infrastructure, we’re reducing a major source of contamination to our coastal waters in Rhode Island. As part of this grant round, the Town of New Shoreham will acquire a new pump-out vessel to service boaters traversing the waters of Old Harbor. Since 1999, more than $130,000 has been granted to the town to upgrade pump-out facilities. This is an important investment in the health of our waters, benefiting our state and the many boaters who venture out to enjoy the beauty and tranquility of these magnificent natural resources.”

Per the grant, the town may not charge more than $5.00 per 30 gallons of pump-out material, and funded facilities must be available to all boaters. Since 1994, DEM has awarded more than $2 million in CVA grants to Rhode Island communities.

A press release issued by DEM noted that, “Rhode Island was the first state in the nation to receive a statewide “no discharge” designation from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, in 1998, which prohibits boats from discharging sewage into local waterways. There are currently 15 pump-out boats and 52 land-side facilities across the state. More are needed to adequately meet the demand.”

The release also stated: “Discharge of boat sewage poses a significant threat to public health by introducing bacteria and other pathogens into our waters. Boat sewage also contains nutrients that can deplete oxygen in the water and harm fish and other aquatic animals, and may contain cleaners and chemical products that are toxic to marine and estuarine life.” 

Other communities and businesses that received matching grants for boat pump-out facilities are: Avondale Boat Yard in Westerly, Bowen’s Wharf Marina in Newport, Malabar Holdings in Portsmouth, Bristol, Jamestown (2), Middletown, North Kingstown and Warren.