Rain Gardens and Stormwater Management

Finished Rain Garden at Fort Adams. Photo: ACEA/Gilles Martin-Raget

Sailors for the Sea worked with RI DEM, America’s Cup sailors and staff this morning to build a rain garden here at Fort Adams in Newport. We hope that this conservation activity will provide a demonstration project for proper stormwater management and leave a legacy of ocean conservation here after the event is over. But what exactly is a rain garden?

Rain gardens are a natural, energy efficient way of reducing the impacts of storm water runoff. Heavy rains over paved areas result in water rushing in torrents to the nearest storm drains, carrying with it pollutants and causing erosion, flooding, and other infrastructure problems. Nonpoint source pollution (as from parking lots) is one of the leading sources of coastal pollution (for more info check out our Ocean Watch Essay on nonpoint source pollution). Rain gardens combat this problem naturally. Rain gardens are landscaped depressions, located in areas where rainwater tends to pool or flood, planted with native species resilient to heavy rain. They collect intense runoff and slow its movement, allowing rain to infiltrate deeper into the soil. As it travels through the ground, rain water is filtered by plants and the soil. The combination of filtering, biological activity, plant uptake, and adsorption of pollutants onto soil grains dramatically improves local water quality.

Here at Fort Adams, parking spaces and portions of a median planted with invasive species were cleared to make way for the rain garden. A 4′ deep hole was dug and filled in with gradated, permeable soil materials to allow for better drainage. This rain garden will not only improve the water quality of runoff in nearby Brenton Cove, but with it’s colorful, native plantings is an attractive addition to the area.

Rain gardens are easy to build at home, and can help improve the water quality in your area and reduce flooding around your house. For more information, check out these easy to follow steps for constructing your own backyard rain garden.


Clean Regattas America’s Cup World Series in Newport

ACWS Newport Clean Regattas InfographicAs the eyes of the sporting world descend on Newport, Rhode Island, during the final stop of the America’s Cup World Series (ACWS) (June 23, 2012 – July 1, 2012), a trio of local organizations are working in collaboration to set a new standard for sustainable sporting events. The ACWS Host Committee, led by Sailors for the Sea and the RI Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) in conjunction with the America’s Cup Event Authority, will promote environmental stewardship and ocean health by introducing four key initiatives throughout the ACWS Newport as explained below. Read the full press release>>


News from the Global Partnership for Oceans

More than 70 nations, private companies and international organizations declare support for Global Partnership for Oceans

RIO DE JANEIRO, Brazil, June 16, 2012 — Over 70 countries, civil society groups, private firms and international organizations have declared their support for the new Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO), signaling their commitment to work together around coordinated goals to restore the world’s oceans to health and productivity.

Among those throwing their public support behind a “Declaration for Healthy and Production Oceans to Help Reduce Poverty” at the Rio+20 conference are 14 private firms and associations including some of the largest seafood purchasing companies in the world, representing over $6 billion per year in seafood sales, as well as one of the world’s largest cruise lines. 

The Global Partnership for Oceans is a new and diverse coalition of public, private, civil society, research and multilateral interests working together for healthy and productive oceans. Sailors for the Sea is part of this coalition. It was first announced in February 2012 by World Bank President Robert B. Zoellick at the World Oceans Summit and has been gathering growing support.

Announcing the unprecedented public statement of commitment in a keynote address to the Global Ocean Forum here today, World Bank Vice President for Sustainable Development Rachel Kyte said the Global Partnership for Oceans (GPO) had garnered enormous support from across the oceans spectrum.

Everyone can see the value in being part of a Partnership that aims to turn around the decline in our oceans,” Kyte said. “Everyone stands to benefit if the oceans are better protected, better managed and better understood for the important ecosystem services they provide.”

Norway’s Minister for Development Heikki Holmas said: “Norway supports the Global Partnership for Oceans because it reinforces and reinvigorates global efforts to ensure the sustainable use of the oceans and to further curb illegal, unregulated and unreported fishingThe GPO is vital to ensuring that a fair share of better managed ocean resources is redistributed to benefit the world’s poorest.”

The Declaration commits the Partnership to mobilizing “significant human, financial and institutional resources for effective public and private investments in priority ocean areas”. It aims to improve capacity and close the recognized gap in action in implementing global, regional and national commitments for healthy and productive oceans.

It also recognizes that despite global commitments made to date as well as the efforts of many organizations, governments, enterprises and individuals, the oceans remain “under severe threat from pollution, unsustainable harvesting of ocean resources, habitat destruction, ocean acidification and climate change”.

To tackle these threats, the Partnership is targeting three key focus areas:

  • sustainable seafood and livelihoods from capture fisheries and aquaculture;
  • critical coastal and ocean habitats and biodiversity;
  • pollution reduction.

Among the GPO’s agreed goals are targets for significantly increasing global food fish production from sustainable aquaculture and sustainable fisheries; halving the current rate of natural habitat loss and increasing marine-managed and protected areas to at least 10 percent of coastal and marine areas; and reducing marine pollution especially from marine litter, waste water and excess nutrients.

Newport Bermuda Race

Friday June 15th marks the start of the Newport Bermuda Race.  This race crosses a stretch of the Atlantic Ocean known for its challenging waters and strong Gulf Stream currents. Every two years over a 180 boats assemble for the start in the historic seaport of Newport, Rhode Island. Newport to Bermuda is a 635-mile ocean race, mostly out of sight of land. The race takes between three and six days.

Time to burn at the pin! The starting line from NYYC’s Annual Regatta, a Certified Gold Level Clean Regatta on June 10, 2012. Photo Credit Franny Kupersmith

Race organizers are working hard to be certified as a silver level Clean Regatta. Listed below the items from the Clean Regattas Best Practices list that will be accomplished:

  • Water Bottle Reduction Participants are asked to use re-useable bottles and use tank water while racing
  • Trash Free Regatta Participants have access to shore facilities in Newport and Bermuda, facilities must be kept free of debris. This includes rigging tape, cigarette butts, bottles, and cans.
  • No Discharge Discharge of untreated sewage or black water in Newport and Bermuda, is unlawful. Pump-out facilities are available in both locations.
  • Recycling Recycling facilities will be provided at both venues.
  • Grey Water Reduction Competitors are asked to use only water when washing down their boats and to use non-toxic cleaning products.
  • Oil Spill Prevention Participants are requested to carry and use bilge sponges and fueling spill pad.
  • Bottom Paint RC will request that entrants use non-toxic bottom paint, such as copper free e-Paint.
  • Non-Toxic Cleaning Products A recommended list of “Green” cleaning products is provided in the skipper’s packet.
  • Track Success NBR will measure many metrics as possible
  • Electronic Communication and Registration NBR will use electronic communication with participants and interest parties. This includes an electronic registration
  • Green Team Representatives of the Race Committee and the CCA’s Environment of the Sea Committee will be present in Newport and Bermuda. They will promote the goals of the Clean regatta Program, assist with recycling and monitor implementation of the a Clean Regatta’s ” Best Practices”.
  • Paper 100% post-consumer recycled paper will be used for event packets.  

Sailors for the Sea wish all the Competitors a fun, safe and sustainable race!

St. Davids Lighthouse was built in 1879 located on the eastern end of Bermuda. St. Davids lighthouse marks the finish line for the Newport Bermuda race.

How many of our follower’s have raced in the NBR?

World Oceans Day

Today marks World Oceans Day – a day to celebrate, appreciate and give back to the ocean. Check out the list of World Oceans Day events, many are spread out over this weekend, whether it be a beach clean up or a lecture on ocean health issues, there should be one in your part of the world to enjoy!

Seeing as a fish – blue lenses make it hard to see certain colors, and teaches kids what it is like to swim around in the deep sea.

The 2012 World Oceans Day theme is, Youth: the Next Wave for Change. Here are Sailors for the Sea, we celebrated World Oceans Day early at the New England Aquarium last weekend. Program lead Annie Brett, taught kids what it was like to “see as a fish” with one of our newer Rainy Day Kits, “All that Glitters.” We also published two new Rainy Day Kits this week, now totaling 12 marine science lesson plans available for free on our website. Each lesson plan needs minimal supplies so they can be taught at any summer camp, or at home on a rainy day. Please click here to download some of these lesson plans and save them for a rainy day!

Also of note, in honor of World Oceans Day, The United Nations is highlighting the 30th anniversary of the Law of the Sea. This convention ensures international stability and peaceful use of the world’s seas and oceans governing all activities on, over and under international waters. Watch their short documentary on why this important convention came together, or read our past ocean watch essay about the Law of the Sea.

If you are an ocean lover, but are unable to be near it today, check out these amazing picture from renowned photographer Brian Skerry, or the beautiful video below, for inspiration to celebrate ocean conservation!

Tiller – Beach tips for Salty Dogs

Tiller the Salty DogTiller, Sailors for the Sea’s Salty Dog would like to share some tips for environmentally friendly dog behavior while at the beach this summer.

Respect Leash Laws – Tiller is an advocate of this one because it helps ensure that dog-friendly beaches can stay that way.
Give Birds a Break – particularly important in spring and summer for mating and nesting season.
Steer Clear of Wildlife – this can cause trouble for your dog and vice versa, so it is just better to be peaceful and distant with all sea life that finds it’s way to shore. Tiller notes eating a beached jellyfish can really hurt your tummy.
Keep Off the (Dune) Grass – coastal dunes provide storm-damage protection to inland areas and are extremely vulnerable to trampling by both feet and paws. Tiller also avoids this place to avoid ticks.
Scoop the Poop – not just courtesy, dog waste can cause some nasty infections in humans, and adds to bacteria count that forces beaches to close down. Tiller says, let the humans do their job!

Dog enjoying the beach

Tiller, enjoying his freedom on a beach with no leash laws.

Now that you know the dos and don’ts of dogs at the seashore find a dog friendly beach. Do you have a salty dog who wants to help support ocean conservation, and be featured on our blog? Learn how your canine friends can join the ranks with Tiller.

Thanks to our friends from the Massachusetts office of Coastal Zone Management for this important information, and check out the full post for more information.