Providence, Rhode Island, April 25, 2018 – The Narragansett Bay Estuary Program and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC) are pleased to announce that more than $115,000 in grants will fund four projects aimed at answering data gaps and research needs defined in the 2017 State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed – Technical report.

These grants will support researchers in the Narragansett Bay Watershed, with a focus on projects to address major data gaps. These grants are funded through the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Research Grants Program will bring together partnerships to protect and restore the coastal watersheds of southeast New England from Westerly, Rhode Island to Chatham, Massachusetts, including Narragansett Bay and all other Rhode Island coastal waters, Buzzards Bay, and southern Cape Cod. The funded projects this year are summarized below:

Sediment Profile Imagery Survey to Evaluate Benthic Habitat Quality in Narragansett Bay

John King (URI): $34,601

This project will monitor change benthic habitat quality by rerunning a Bay-wide Sediment Profile Imagery (SPI) survey that was previously run in 1988 and 2008, and will add several new stations. Shumchenia et al (2016) showed improvements in the benthic habitat quality of the Bay between these surveys. However, these surveys need to be run more frequently, and a new survey will be able to fill in more data gaps.

High Resolution Salt Marsh Mapping Using Un-manned Aerial Systems,

Peter August (URI): $35,000

This project will collect high resolution (~10 cm pixel size) imagery using small unmanned aerial systems (UAS) which is valuable, yet cost-effective. This means more opportunity for monitoring changes in extent and composition of salt marsh habitats over time. These images will be used for interpretation of salt marsh vegetation. These data will directly address the gaps identified in the State of Narragansett Bay Technical Report. Specifically, these data will support the Tier 1 salt marsh monitoring and assessment plan put forth by NBNERR and others.

Further Analysis and Synthesis of Bay Oxygen, Chlorophyll, and Temperature,

Dan Codiga (Independent): $31,000

The final product will provide several related analyses of oxygen, chlorophyll, and temperature in the Narragansett Bay Watershed—at sites from Phillipsdale Landing in the Seekonk River to the southern end of Prudence Island— and will build on prior understanding and create products in support of NBEP scientific research. Objectives and tasks address gaps that were identified by the 2017 State of Narragansett Bay and Its Watershed report. Benefits include improved understanding of variability and long-term trends in oxygen, chlorophyll, and temperature.

Research Needs for Marine Beaches,

Dave McLaughlin (Clean Ocean Access): $16,000

The project aims to advance the understanding of bacteria at high recreational use beaches in Rhode Island to improve public health and provide a model for future other locations in the Narragansett Bay. The benefit of this study is improved insight into the 15+ years of microbiology dataset of Enterococci levels at high usage recreational areas along with relationships of bacterial counts and antecedent rain using advanced statistical analysis software developed and supported by US EPA.

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