City of Providence Completes First Phase of Pond Restoration Work at Roger Williams Park
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City of Providence Completes First Phase of Pond Restoration Work at Roger Williams Park

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

More than $400,000 invested to restore water quality in 100 acres of historic ponds, manage urban storm water.

Mayor Angel Taveras, the Narragansett Bay Estuary Program and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency announced today the completion of more than $400,000 in storm water improvements to Roger Williams Park to restore water quality in 100 acres of historic ponds.

The work includes the engineering and construction of five major storm water treatment areas, the removal of paved surfaces, and the replacement of a road with a new walking path.

In addition, 50 volunteers planted more than 3,000 native wetland plants to reduce water pollution and restore eroded shorelines, and a dozen volunteers participated in water quality testing.

"This project is a significant step in the city's management of urban storm water and the first step toward improving the health of Providence's most accessible fresh water sources," said Mayor Angel Taveras. "Roger Williams Park is an important asset for Providence, and improving the water quality of the park enhances the experience for all of our visitors."

Along with the construction work, the city created a comprehensive water quality restoration plan for the ponds. Over the next five years, the city will use the plan to expand upon this first phase of the restoration by reducing storm water from nearby neighborhoods, improving land and road management, increasing public education and engagement, and several other measures.

The large and complex restoration project, funded by the city and a U.S. Environmental Protection Agency grant, positions Providence as a municipal leader in urban low impact development practices.

"For more than one hundred years, Roger Williams Park and its ponds have been an essential resource for city residents, and an attraction for over one million visitors each year. Today's event celebrates the collective efforts of an amazing group of partners not only to restore the Park, but also to make it even better," said Curt Spalding, Regional Administrator for EPA New England. "With funding from EPA, the City of Providence and others, the project includes innovative nonpoint source controls that demonstrate low impact development, remove hundreds of pounds of pollutants, and restore degraded shorelines. EPA is proud to be part of a group that has brought vision, partnerships and dedication to restoration of an urban watershed and historic landscape."

"With the completion of one of the largest water quality restoration projects in the state, 105 acres of historic ponds will be protected from damaging runoff," said Governor Lincoln Chafee. "Developing green infrastructure is critical to preserving our natural resources and can put Rhode Islanders back to work in communities throughout our state. Rhode Island has been long renowned for its great recreational areas and our residents have always cared deeply about protecting and preserving them."

"The work to remove paved surfaces and construct the rain gardens and other storm water treatment practices are significant first steps in reducing the volume of polluted runoff that contributes to the Roger Williams Park Ponds' degradation," said Department of Environmental Management Director Janet Coit. "DEM is pleased to be a strong partner in this major restoration effort, providing technical support and assistance."

Partner organizations and citizens are working to establish the Roger Williams Park Conservancy. The new Conservancy will engage stakeholders and foster stewardship and restoration of the Park.

"This project has already improved the recreational and environmental quality of Roger Williams Park. We see it more as a beginning than an end, as we continue to engage the community and work with the City to restore and improve the Park, for all who use and enjoy it," said Thomas Ardito, Roger Williams Park Conservancy.

Following a brief speaking program, attendees toured the new Roosevelt Lake Walking Path in Roger Williams Park.

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