By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — The city has been awarded $41,350 to put toward cleaning up the North River.
The Massachusetts Office of Energy and Environmental Affairs announced last week that Salem is one of six municipalities chosen for state grants for coastal pollution remediation.
The state will kick in $41,350 for the North River project, which the city will match with $23,900.
The project will include designing and implementing strategies to reduce contaminated stormwater runoff into the North River, including upgrading drainage structures along Commercial Street.
The project is meant to improve the North River’s water quality and make it more inviting to American eel and rainbow smelt.
Salem Sound Coastwatch, a local environmental group, has been holding an annual smelt count for several years. Rainbow smelt are considered a barometer of the health of a tidal river. The number found in the North River has been increasing; in May, Coastwatch announced that 100 smelt had been netted this spring, up from just two in 2010.