By Emily Greenhalgh
PBN Web Editor
BOSTON – The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded a total of $317,000 to three Rhode Island organizations - Groundwork Providence, the Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island and the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program/Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association.
Groundwork Providence received a $200,000 Brownfield job training grant from the environmental watchdog agency.
The grant, which was issued under the EPA’s Brownfields Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training program, will assist Groundwork Providence in training 54 students and place at least 45 graduates in environmental jobs.
Under the grant, Groudwork Providence will track graduates for at least one year to assist students’ transition to the workforce.
“EPA’s Brownfield Job Training grants can be a real catalyst helping to change peoples’ lives for the better,” Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office, said in prepared remarks.
“Investing to provide people with the skills to earn a good living are also helping to protect the health of the local community by targeting historically disadvantaged neighborhoods where environmental cleanups and jobs are often most needed,” said Spalding.
In two separate Urban Water Quality Improvement grants, the EPA awarded $117,000 to two Rhode Island organizations working to address water quality impairment issues in the urban areas of the Ocean State.
The Providence-based Environmental Justice League of Rhode Island landed $60,000 from the EPA to help support an initiative to restore water quality in Mashapaug Pond.
The Justice League will team up with Urban Pond Procession and Groundwork Providence to “to creatively engage residents of the Reservoir Triangle neighborhood through educational and training initiatives to generate citizen energy for restoring water quality in Mashapaug Pond, the last remaining natural pond in Providence,” according to a release.
The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program/Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed Association received an Urban Water Quality Improvement grant of $57,000 from the EPA to lead an efford to develop an “Urban Waters Fish Community Monitoring Program.”
The monitoring program aims to develop a fish community monitoring program on the Moshasshuck River, the Woonasquatucket River and the Blackstone River.
The two Rhode Island grants are part of $2.7 million the EPA awarded to 46 organizations in 32 states and Puerto Rico to help restore urban waters.
“We are very proud to provide funding to help these groups address urban water quality issues in Rhode Island,” said Spalding, regional administrator of EPA’s New England office. “These funds will help restore urban waters and support community revitalization on and near these rivers.”