RBC Blue Water Project funds Gulf projects

August 29, 2013

The Royal Bank of Canada, through its RBC Blue Water Project, has promised to contribute $50 million over 10 years to protect fresh water around the world. This project is generously funding five projects throughout the Gulf of Maine region this year through a 2013 Leadership Grant to the Gulf of Maine Association for the Gulf of Maine Council on the Marine Environment (GOMC).

The 2013 objective for the project is to support initiatives that “help protect and preserve water in towns, cities and urbanized areas,” according to RBC’s Leadership Grant application, especially to projects to “improve water quality and efficiency in towns and cities.” These include management of storm or rain water, efficient use or reuse of water, and protection and restoration of urban waterways.

So far, six years into its commitment, RBC has pledged more than $38 million to 650-plus charitable organizations in several countries, and an additional $7.8 million was pledged to universities for water programs.

In May, GOMC received word that the RBC had funded its grant proposal for projects in Moncton, New Brunswick; Colchester, Nova Scotia; South Portland, Maine, Portsmouth and Dover, New Hampshire.

201308_story-1_picture-1Manufactured Tree Box Filters For Stormwater Management
(Source: Virginia DCR Stormwater Management Program)

“This is a great opportunity through the RBC Blue Water Project to further support the great work being done at the community level to restore our streams,” said Slade Moore, Habitat Restoration Coordinator for the GOMC and the Maine Coastal Program.

Two projects will take place in New Hampshire―one will construct a 700-foot stream buffer of native plantings and a tree box filter to clean stormwater runoff along the Hodgson Brook in Portsmouth.

The $12,000 grant for Hodgson Brook will purchase materials for the tree box filter and plants for the stream buffer, as well paying for engineering oversight, explained Candace Dolan of the New Hampshire Phytoplankton Monitoring Program, Great Bay Community College and the Hodgson Brook Restoration Project.

“We hope to enlist 30 volunteers to dig holes for the trees,” said Dolan. She’s sure the project will elicit a great turnout, since for last year’s rain garden project, a small army showed up, armed with rakes, hoes and shovels.

“The tree box filter will help collect stormwater and hold it long enough so it can make its way into the groundwater,” Dolan said. The box consists of a concrete riser around the tree with perforated pipe and a tube beneath the soil. The box filter is designed to capture overflowing water and return it to the storm drain. The entire project will help clean stormwater runoff from 12,200 sq. ft. of roadway.

“The stream buffer will help take up and filter water, as well as shade and cool the brook” at the Pease Tradeport, said Dolan. “The RBC Blue Water Project grant will fully fund this project and the volunteers will provide all the labor. It’s huge.”

“Recent funding shortfalls have made it more challenging than ever to reestablish healthy populations of stream-dependent fish and wildlife in the Gulf of Maine watershed,” said Moore. ”The 2013 Leadership Grant awarded by RBC’s Blue Water Project will help us continue support for on-the-ground, community-based restoration projects that improve conditions in urbanized landscapes, which are among the most vulnerable to impacts.”

In Moncton, New Brunswick, Mario Cyr, from the Sentinelles Petitcodiac Riverkeeper, said the RBC Blue Water Project’s $16,000 grant through GOMC will be used to help restore Humphreys Brook which passes through an old industrial site. The city has removed an old decommissioned dam which blocked the stream’s flow. Tearing down this dam is a culmination of 10 years of work by the Riverkeeper’s organization. Its removal will hopefully allow fish to return to higher breaches of the stream.

“We will remove debris along 1,200 linear feet of the brook where it passes through the industrial area,” said Cyr. This project also includes “revegetation of the banks for erosion control.” Parts of the projects will require volunteers to help with the work, and the project will include an educational component and the engagement from local residents.

Other projects funded under the 2013 grant to the GOMC are:

  • Berry Brook in Dover, New Hampshire, where the $8,000 grant will install a rain garden to clean up a stream buried in pipes and restore an urban wetland by installing low-impact stormwater retrofits to reduce runoff, remove harmful pollutants and increase absorption;
  • Hindley Park at Kimball Brook in South Portland, Maine, where the $20,000 grant will be used for erosion control in 12 locations along 270 feet of the bank near ponds and 500 feet of trails;
  • Chiganois River in Colchester, Nova Scotia, where the $22,000 grant will be used to create two rain gardens, a total of 750 square feet, one tree filter, and 5,000 square feet of pervious pavement to slow and retain storm flows;

“Over 10 years of successful projects supported by GOMC demonstrate that habitat restoration is an excellent investment in terms of ecological results and jobs created,” said Moore. “Habitat restoration uses proven engineering and construction methods and most of the funding for these projects stays in the local community or state.”



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