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$47M sought for environmental projects

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Voters will decide Tuesday whether to spend millions of dollars on environmental projects around Rhode Island.

Supporters say some of the money is needed to fight the effects of climate change.

Some of the $47 million sought in ballot Question 3 would be for restoring or reconfiguring marsh lands and waterways.

Topher Hamblett, of Save the Bay, is leading the push to get the bond funding approved by voters.

“Climate change is very real here in Narragansett Bay, so we are seeing more coastal flooding, more erosion, greater storm surges. All of that is causing some of the great places along Narragansett Bay that everyone loves to go to to be under threat,” Hamblett said.

A chunk of the bond money would be used for improvements at waste water treatment facilities and trying to protect them from being swamped by storm surge or flood waters.

“Every time we flush our toilets, the water has to go somewhere and it has to be treated,” Hamblett said.

“Like homes or automobiles, these need to be maintained and upgraded.”

“Were it not for our past investments in waste water treatment plants, Narragansett Bay would be an open sewer today,” Hamblett said.

But the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity opposes it.

“We just can't afford any more debt,” said Mike Stenhouse, who founded the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity.

The group also opposes the rest of the bond questions on the ballot.

“These politically correct sustainable development projects, that again, aren't necessary, that are overkill towards some fear of climate change, again, we don't need it. It's too much money for taxpayers,” Stenhouse said.

The Question 3 bond would also include money for repairing dams, expanding bikeways, open space and recreation and dredging Providence rivers.

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