- Associated Press - Sunday, October 25, 2020

PORTSMOUTH, R.I. (AP) - The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is awarding $37,500 in matching grants to help make state coastal waters cleaner.

The grants funded under the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service Clean Vessel Act will help communities invest in boat sewage pumpout facilities along the Sakonnet River and East Middle Bay in Portsmouth, the agency said in a statement.

One grant to the Safe Harbors Sakonnet Marina will be used to replace an existing pump and fixed-based pumpout station. The other grant to Safe Harbors New England Boatworks will be used to fund a new land-based facility.

Boat sewage poses a significant threat to water quality by introducing bacteria and other pathogens that can jeopardize public health, the agency said.

“Over the years, projects funded with pumpout grants have been instrumental in helping to reduce a major source of contamination to the state’s coastal waters, including the bacteria that can cause shellfish closures,” agency Director Janet Coit said in a statement.

There are currently 15 pumpout boats and 48 landside facilities located across Narragansett Bay and the state’s coastal waters. Last year, these facilities kept more than 600,000 gallons of boat sewage out of the water.

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