August 15, 2020

Sabin Point Beach $850,000 Grant on Track

Goal is to swim again at Riverside beach


Part of the discussion at the January 7th City Council meeting was about the $850,000 grant awarded to East Providence to make Sabin Point beach swimmable someday soon.

East Providence had been granted $850,000 from a government brokered settlement with Volkswagen over the company’s diesel-emissions scandal. The funds are part of a near $160 million award that Rhode Island and other states received because Volkswagen altered emissions testing results. Former Attorney General Peter Kilmartin directed that the awards go to "improving the environment." The money was earmarked for the Sabin Point beach with the intent to make the beach swimmable again. The City received the money in December of 2018.

In discussing this item at recent City Council meetings, at-large councilman Bob Rodericks asked for an update. "I have received concerns from some residents that they want to make sure the grant is used for its intended purpose of cleaning up Sabin Point beach. I've also received a request from the Providence Journal in this regard," said Rodericks.

City finance director Malcolm Moore responded that all of the money remains for the intended purpose. "In 2013, the City of East Providence and Save the Bay had conducted numerous site visits to identify areas and opportunities for storm water infiltration. The City secured a Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) grant to hire an engineering consultant to prepare a comprehensive analysis and design of improvements to the Sabin Point watershed to reduce bacteria, nitrogen and phosphates that are currently being discharged into the upper Narragansett Bay with no existing pretreatment," said Moore.

During the fall of 2018, the engineering firm ESS Group, Inc. completed the Comprehensive Storm water Management Plan with funding provided by RIDEM that identified 7 projects that will significantly improve the water quality of the upper Narragansett Bay. "By the use of City, RIDEM and New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) funds, the City has completed two infiltration/pretreatment projects during the summer/fall of 2018, and the recently acquired Volkswagen Settlement forfeiture funds in the amount of $850,000 that were awarded to the City in December 2018 will allow for the design, permitting and construction of the remaining 5 infiltration/pretreatment projects that were identified in the Comprehensive Storm water Management Plan," added Moore.

The remaining 5 storm water infiltration/pretreatment projects that were identified in the Comprehensive Storm water Management Plan will be designed, permitted and constructed during the next 2 years. Save The Bay, RIDEM, Department of Health and Brown University have partnered with the City to provide technical assistance, community outreach and water quality monitoring.

"These funds can only be used at Sabin Point for the purposes of storm water management and pre-treatment. Staff turnover has helped to delay the project a bit, but we have the money and the project is a go," added Moore.


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