Updated April 21 at 6:21pm

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ENVIRONMENT

DEM, DEP coordinate to reduce stormwater pollution

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PROVIDENCE – The R.I. Department of Environmental Management and the Mass.Department of Environmental Protection have announced a partnership to help communities reduce stormwater pollution.

The bi-state municipal stormwater assistance project is targeting 38 Massachusetts and Rhode Island communities within the Blackstone River and Ten Mile River watersheds.

“Since stormwater pollution flowing into Narragansett Bay doesn’t respect state lines, we were looking for a way to help towns in the Blackstone and Ten Mile watersheds, no matter what state they are in,” MassDEP Commissioner Kenneth Kimmell said in a statement.

According to a statement released Tuesday by the two state environmental agencies, the project will focus on managing stormwater on site instead of diverting it into local streams and rivers.

The newly hired Carissa Lord, who will act as bi-state stormwater coordinator, will spend the next 15 months assisting cities and towns throughout the Bay and Ocean States promote stormwater best management practices, write local stormwater bylaws and improve the quality of local water for drinking, fishing and recreation.

Lord will also examine the establishment of stormwater utility districts as well as funding sources for local stormwater work that assess fees based on how much a stormwater system is used rather than through taxes.

“Local communities are having a hard time making ends meet,” DEM Director Janet Coit said in a statement. “So we wanted to find a way to help towns in both states to tackle long-standing water quality problems.”

The $39,325 Environmental Protection Agency Health Communities grant was awarded to DEM and the MassDEP jointly, is administered by the DEP and includes the participation of three partner organizations – the Blackstone River Coalition, the Narragansett Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the John H. Chafee Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor Commission.

“The Partners and I will be setting up training programs and reaching out to towns in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts,” said Lord in prepared remarks. “I am excited to start working with towns that want to do better stormwater management, which reduces water pollution locally and helps clean Narragansett Bay.”

The communities from Rhode Island involved in the program include Burrillville, Central Falls, Cumberland, East Providence, Glocester, Lincoln, North Smithfield, Pawtucket, Smithfield and Woonsocket.

The communities from Massachusetts include Attleboro, Auburn, Bellingham, Blackstone, Boylston, Douglas, Grafton, Holden, Hopedale, Hopkinton, Leicester, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northbridge, North Attleboro, Paxton, Plainville. Seekonk, Shrewsbury, Sutton, Upton, Uxbridge, Westborough, West Boylston, Worcester and Wrentham.

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