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News Release

RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

For Release:

May 19, 2000

Media Contact:

Gail Mastrati 222-4700 ext. 2402
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418


City Will Also Reimburse the State $100,000 and Shut Down Hydroelectric Plant

PROVIDENCE - The City of Woonsocket has entered into a consent agreement with the Department of Environmental Management concerning operation of the city's wastewater treatment plant. The 15-page consent agreement, filed today in Superior Court, ends a year-long negotiation process begun when DEM filed suit against the city last year for failing to comply with two previous consent agreements that had addressed continued permit violations, generally relating to the discharge of total suspended solids.

"Although negotiation of this agreement has been a long process, we are pleased that the agreement will result in significant water quality benefits and end the chronic permit violations at this facility," DEM Director Jan Reitsma said.

Today's consent agreement incorporates major improvements that will be made to the treatment plant, as well as several million dollars in supplemental environmental projects that will be undertaken by the city, and a reimbursement to DEM of $100,000. The wastewater treatment facility improvements will achieve the nutrient reductions required by the comprehensive interstate water quality study known as the Blackstone River Initiative, and will reduce the amount of total nitrogen entering the Seekonk and Providence Rivers. The consent agreement requires completion of all wastewater treatment plan modifications by July 15, 2001. Major improvements include construction of additional aeration tanks and the installation of filters.

In 1999, Woonsocket privatized the operation of its wastewater treatment facility and the design and construction of the required improvements. The city has made some interim improvements to bring the plant into compliance with the current operating permit, and plant operation has improved in the past year.

The Blackstone River has a long history of significant flow reductions caused by hydroelectric facilities. As part of the consent agreement, Woonsocket will shut down its hydroelectric facility in four years. The shutdown will eliminate the flow reductions caused by operation of that facility.

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