042519 CHA Quonnie Pond restoration ceremony 722.JPG

Parts of Quonochontaug Pond have been fenced to protect ongoing marsh restoration work. April 25, 2019. Harold Hanka, The Westerly Sun

Providence — The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) has received a $75,000 award from the National Coastal Resilience Fund developed by Whitehouse to restore and strengthen the natural infrastructure that protects coastal communities. DEM will use the funding to advance resiliency efforts along the shore of Quonochontaug Pond, a salt pond partially located in the towns of Charlestown and Westerly.

“Quonnie Pond is the first line of defense against flooding for large sections of Charlestown and Westerly, and it’s in need of significant restoration,” said Whitehouse, a member of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee. “Scientists predict that the Ocean State will be hit hard by rising sea levels in the years ahead, and I’m working to prepare Rhode Island homes and businesses by delivering funding for projects like this one.”

Quonochontaug Pond, commonly referred to as “Quonnie Pond,” and the surrounding marshland serve as the community’s first line of defense against coastal storms and flooding. The Quonochontaug breachway shoreline and access area is in poor condition after years of erosion from sea level rise, storm surge, and unabated storm water. DEM will use the grant funding to plan resiliency improvements to the site, including raising the overall elevation, moving key access areas, and managing storm water to limit erosion.

“Thanks to the dedicated efforts of Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and our Congressional Delegation, Rhode Island will benefit from this critical federal funding to make Quonnie Pond more resilient to the effects of storm surge, sea level rise, and stormwater infiltration,” said DEM Director Janet Coit. “The vibrancy of our economy and health of our communities depend on us taking practical actions now to mitigate climate change, and we look forward to this restoration project that will preserve public access and enhance the coastal habitat at Rhode Island’s deepest salt pond.”

The National Coastal Resilience fund is administered by the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. DEM’s award comes from the National Coastal Resilience Fund’s second round of funding. Rhode Island’s Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) received a $280,000 grant from the inaugural fund round for the National Coastal Resilience Fund last fall. CRMC is using the grant to identify vulnerable sites along Rhode Island’s coastline and design projects to prevent them from flooding.

CRMC projects the Rhode Island coastline will see between 9 and 12 feet of sea level rise by the end of the century.

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