Providence, RI – U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse today announced three awards totaling $1,592,800 in federal funding to improve the resiliency of Rhode Island communities. These three grants for the Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council, the Providence Resilience Partnership and Bristol County Water Authority are funded through the National Coastal Resilience Fund (NCRF), which was developed by Whitehouse to restore and strengthen the natural infrastructure protecting coastal communities.
“I am pleased to announce this funding to support three resiliency projects across the Ocean State,” said Whitehouse. “I created the National Coastal Resilience Fund to give communities reliable stream of funding to prepare for and adapt to the threats posed by climate change, and the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law provided a significant boost to the fund.”
This round of grants, for 109 projects nationwide totaling $144 million, was made possible with funding from Democrats’ Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, which invested $492 million over five years for the National Coastal Resilience Fund. These grants are in addition to the 27 projects totaling $44.7 million announced in October funded through the Inflation Reduction Act. The National Coastal Resilience Fund is jointly administered by NOAA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation.
The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council was awarded a $320,000 grant to develop a watershed-wide plan addressing resiliency challenges, and train frontline leaders and municipal partners to rank and prioritize restoration sites. The project will boost flood resiliency and reduce water quality impacts along the Woonasquatucket River.
“The Woonasquatucket River Watershed Council is so grateful to the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, the National Coastal Resilience Fund, and Senator Whitehouse’s advocacy for the opportunity that NCRF provides to make the Woonasquatucket River Watershed, and all coastal areas, more flood resilient,” said Alicia Lehrer, Executive Director, WRWC. “These funds will help us build on our strong partnerships with Woonasquatucket watershed communities and our residents most affected by flooding to prioritize and develop projects that will not only help us adapt to climate change but improve our communities next to the river.”
The Providence Resilience Partnership was awarded $772,800 to analyze the conditions of the urban edge of the Seekonk River to gauge of climate risks and habitat restoration opportunities. The project will also to engage stakeholders in providing feedback, proposing and planning nature-based projects.
“Understanding climate risk and potential nature-based solutions are urgent priorities,” said Michele Jalbert, executive director of the Providence Resilience Partnership. “With this funding, we can extend our ‘climate co-learning’ work all the way up the city’s Seekonk River shoreline, helping neighborhood residents engage in collaborative solutions to address the unavoidable impacts of climate change – which pose increasingly severe threats with every day that goes by. Thank you to Senator Whitehouse for his continuing support of this critical work.”
A grant of $500,000 was awarded to Bristol County Water Authority, which is in addition to a $1.3 million grant awarded by the National Coastal Resilience Fund in 2021. Funding will support the removal of two dams on the Kickemuit River to provide community and ecological resiliency benefits. The project will restore salt and brackish marsh habitat in both the lower and upper impoundments and will create an area for salt marsh migration.
Since its creation in 2018, the National Coastal Resilience Fund awarded more than $466 million to 400 projects across the nation. In 2022, thanks to funding from the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law, the NCRF awarded more than $144 million to 96 projects nationwide.
Past local recipients of the grant fund include the Town of New Shoreham, University of Rhode Island and Friends of Green Hill Pond, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Save The Bay, and the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council and its partners. In Rhode Island, funding has been used to identify sites vulnerable to sea level rise that would benefit from shoreline adaptation, design projects to prevent flooding, and restore dunes and habitats that act as natural buffers for coastal areas.
Meaghan McCabe, (202) 224-2921