Neponset River Reservation in Milton, photo courtesy of Swampyyank

In an effort to protect coastal water quality and habitat, the Baker-Polito Administration announced $287,640 in grants to support local projects to address polluted stormwater runoff. The grants, provided by the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs’s (EEA) Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM), were awarded to the Towns of Barnstable, Milton, and Provincetown, and the City of New Bedford.

“The Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant program supports our Administration’s efforts to aid communities in the prevention of pollutants reaching coastal waters,” said Governor Charlie Baker. “These grants protect coastal habitats and improve water quality for swimming and fishing by funding stormwater treatment methods to reduce runoff and remove contaminants before they are carried to rivers and out to the sea.”

“Our Administration is committed to working with communities to keep stormwater from impacting water quality and invaluable habitats and ecosystems,” said Lieutenant Governor Karyn Polito. “These efforts require local action, and the Coastal Pollutant Remediation Grant Program underscores how we are keeping the Commonwealth’s coastal waters clean and healthy by working together.”

The Coastal Pollutant Remediation (CPR) Grant Program seeks to improve water quality and protect coastal habitats by reducing or eliminating nonpoint sources of pollution, a leading cause of water quality impairment in the nation. This type of pollution primarily occurs when contaminants are picked up by rain, snow melt and other flowing water and carried over land, in groundwater or through drainage systems to the nearest body of water and ultimately out to sea. Nonpoint source pollution reduces water quality, negatively impacts habitat for coastal wildlife and reduces opportunities to harvest shellfish and swim due to mandated closures.

“By advancing options that mimic natural processes to treat stormwater runoff, these Coastal Pollutant Grant recipients are making a real difference for coastal water quality and habitat,” said Energy and Environmental Affairs Secretary Kathleen Theoharides. “Through this funding, we’re excited to work with our coastal communities to pursue nature-based solutions to successfully address stormwater problems.”

“Since 1996, the Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management has had the privilege of working with communities in the coastal watershed through the CPR Grant Program,” said CZM Director Lisa Berry Engler. “The local commitment to implementing proven strategies to treat stormwater and protect coastal water quality and habitat is truly inspiring, and we look forward to the next 25 years of successful projects.”

The following four projects have been funded through this year’s grants:

Barnstable – $126,915: The Town of Barnstable, in partnership with the Association to Preserve Cape Cod, will install green stormwater infrastructure along the roadway. These approaches mimic natural systems, capturing and filtering stormwater runoff using soil, microbes and plant roots to effectively remove contaminants. This project builds on a significant multi-year effort to improve water quality, habitat and recreational opportunities in the Three Bays watershed.

Milton – $33,200: The Town of Milton will design stormwater green infrastructure that replicates natural processes to infiltrate and treat stormwater runoff in the Unquity Brook watershed. The project builds on previous work to support an overall goal to improve water quality and diadromous fish habitat in Unquity Brook and the Neponset River Estuary Area of Critical Environmental Concern (ACEC).

New Bedford – $89,705: The City of New Bedford will redesign existing municipal parking lots to incorporate nature-based options to promote infiltration and treatment of stormwater runoff, in addition to reducing heat through plantings and other practices. The newly designed parking lots will treat stormwater runoff prior to reaching New Bedford Harbor where pollutants, primarily bacteria, degrade water quality. The redesign will support the City’s goal to keep beaches and shellfish beds open.

Provincetown – $37,820: The Town of Provincetown will design stormwater practices along the roadway to intercept and treat runoff prior to it reaching Provincetown Harbor. This work builds on previous efforts by the Town to install stormwater practices in and adjacent to roadways in Provincetown center to improve water quality and increase opportunities for shellfish harvest.

The Massachusetts Office of Coastal Zone Management (CZM) is the lead policy and planning agency on coastal and ocean issues within the Executive Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs. Through planning, technical and grant assistance and public information programs, CZM seeks to balance the impacts of human activity with the protection of coastal and marine resources. The agency’s work includes helping coastal communities address the challenges of storms, sea level rise and other effects of climate change; working with state, regional and federal partners to balance current and new uses of ocean waters while protecting ocean habitats and promoting sustainable economic development; and partnering with communities and other organizations to protect and restore coastal water quality and habitats.