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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

DEM REPORTS GOOD AND BAD NEWS AT WASTEWATER TREATMENT FACILITIES

Full Report
(in Adobe Acrobat format)

Highlights

PROVIDENCE - The Department of Environmental Management today released its biennial report on Rhode Island's wastewater treatment facilities. Fourteen of the state's 19 major facilities attained an excellent or good rating in the survey. Two facilities, West Warwick and Warren, received a fair rating, with Newport, Smithfield, and Woonsocket receiving a rating of poor. The ratings for each of the 19 facilities are briefly described in the attached two-page summary.

The role of the facilities is enormously important to the health and welfare of the state's environment: they are responsible for ensuring that the over 100 million gallons of used and polluted wastewater collected every day is purified before being discharged back into the state's rivers, lakes, and bays.

The survey's ratings are based on how well each facility performed in 1998 and 1999 with regard to the removal of major pollutants -- namely, Biochemical Oxygen Demand (BOD), Total Suspended Solids (TSS), and fecal coliform bacteria. The report also examines each facility's flow, since continuous flow violations may indicate an over-burdened facility, and the appropriate use of chlorine as a disinfectant.

In response to comments about earlier reports, this year's report factors in daily as well as monthly violations to determine each plant's overall treatment rating. Other new features of the report include information and ratings of each plant's operation and maintenance (O&M), current and future permit concerns, and sludge production and disposal information. The expanded report format is intended to provide a more complete and accurate overview of wastewater treatment in Rhode Island.

"Although all of the wastewater treatment facilities in the state encountered weather-related difficulties during 1998 and 1999, most performed very well during this period, once the weather conditions moderated," said Alicia Good, Assistant Director of DEM's Division of Water Resources. "This impressive performance is a credit to the staffs at the facilities, and the support they receive from the communities they serve."

From 1990 through 1997, there had been a steady drop in total pollutant loadings from the 19 major facilities, measured on a statewide basis. Loadings increased -- in some cases by as much as 80 percent -- in 1998 and 1999, due largely to extreme weather variations. The abnormally heavy rains in 1998 resulted in excessive wastewater flows and reduced treatment efficiency. Alternatively, the drought conditions of 1999 adversely affected the complex biological processes associated with the secondary stage of sewage treatment.

Over the past year, the five facilities that received fair or poor ratings have taken steps or made commitments to address their deficiencies.

In accordance with DEM requirements, several plants are now in the process of upgrading their facilities in order to handle more flow or meet stricter permit limitations necessary to protect Rhode Island's waters. In addition to its regulatory role, the agency has also focused its technical assistance programs on options for improved performance. For example, DEM's wastewater treatment assistance program has selected Fields Point, East Greenwich, West Warwick, Warwick and Cranston to be part of a specialized, onsite nutrient-reduction training program. Across the board, a number of facilities are continuing to work towards reducing levels of nutrients (such as nitrogen) and chlorine in their effluent, as well as making other advancements to improve the operation of their respective facilities.

For a copy of the report, call Bill Patenaude at DEM's Office of Water Resources, at 222-4700 ext. 7264. It can also be found on DEM's website at www.dem.state.ri.us by clicking "New on the Web."

Highlights of DEM's 1998-1999 Report on Wastewater Treatment Facilities

  • Bristol: Having 8 monthly violations for flow (January through June, 1998 and February and March, 1999), and one monthly violation in 1999 for TSS (June), the facility had no other monthly violations for flow, BOD, TSS or fecal coliform. This resulted in treatment rating of Good. Bristol attained an O&M rating of Good as well.
  • Burrillville: Having no monthly violations for flow, BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, Burrillville received a treatment rating of Excellent. Burrillville attained an O&M rating of Excellent as well.
  • Cranston: Having no monthly violations for flow, BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, Cranston received a treatment rating of Excellent. Cranston attained an O&M rating of Excellent as well.
  • East Greenwich: Having only one monthly violation for flow in March 1998 and none for BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, East Greenwich received a treatment rating of Excellent. East Greenwich attained an O&M rating of Excellent as well.
  • East Providence: Having 2 monthly violations for flow in 1998 (March and June), and no other flow, BOD, TSS or fecal coliform violations, East Providence received a treatment rating of Excellent. The city, however, only attained an O&M rating of Fair.
  • Jamestown: Having five monthly violations for flow in 1998 (January through May), one monthly violation for flow in 1999 (March), and no violations for BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, Jamestown received a treatment rating of Good. The town attained an O&M rating of Fair as well.
  • Narragansett: Having no monthly violations for flow, BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, Narragansett received a treatment rating of Excellent. The town also attained an O&M rating of Excellent.
  • NBC-Bucklin Point: Having six monthly violations for flow in 1998 (January through July), no monthly violations for BOD or fecal coliform and one monthly violation for TSS in January 1998, Bucklin Point received a treatment rating of Good. Bucklin Point attained an O&M rating of Excellent.
  • NBC-Fields Point: Having no monthly violations for flow, BOD, or fecal coliform and one for TSS in April 1999, as well as more than 12 daily violations for BOD or TSS in the period, Fields Point received a treatment rating of Good. Fields Point also attained an O&M rating of Excellent.
  • New Shoreham: Having no monthly violations for flow, BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, New Shoreham received a treatment rating of Excellent. New Shoreham also received an O&M rating of Excellent.
  • Newport: Having one monthly violation for flow in March of 1998, 3 monthly violations for BOD (October 1998 and August and September 1999), three monthly violations for TSS (July through September 1999), and two fecal coliform violations (August and September 1999), as well as more than 12 daily maximum violations for BOD and TSS, Newport received a treatment rating of Poor. Newport attained an O&M rating of Fair.
  • Quonset: Having no monthly violations for flow, BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, Quonset Point received a treatment rating of Excellent. Quonset Point attained an O&M rating of Excellent as well.
  • Smithfield: Having no monthly violations for flow or fecal coliform, but 8 violations for BOD (February, March, August, September, October and November 1998 and March and November 1999) and two TSS violations (February and March 1998), as well as more than 12 daily maximum violations for BOD and TSS, Smithfield received a treatment rating of Poor. Smithfield, however, received an O&M rating of Excellent.
  • South Kingstown: Having no monthly violations for flow, BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, South Kingstown received a treatment rating of Excellent. The town also received an O&M rating of Excellent.
  • Warren: Having nine monthly violations for flow (January through June 1998 and January through March 1999), and no monthly violations for BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, Warren received a treatment rating of Fair. The town also received an O&M rating of Excellent.
  • Warwick: Having no monthly violations for flow, BOD, TSS or fecal coliform, Warwick received a rating of Excellent. Warwick also received an O&M treatment rating of Excellent.
  • Westerly: Having three monthly violations for flow in 1998 (March through May) and two for BOD (September 1998 and July 1999) and no monthly violations for TSS or fecal coliform, Westerly received a treatment rating of Good. Westerly attained an O&M rating of Excellent.
  • West Warwick: Having two monthly violations for flow (February and March 1998), one for TSS (September 1998) and no monthly violations for BOD or fecal coliform, and having more than 12 daily maximum violations for BOD and TSS, West Warwick received a treatment rating of Fair. The town, however, attained an O&M rating of Excellent.
  • Woonsocket: Having no monthly violations for flow or fecal coliform, but 3 for BOD (March 1998 and January and February 1999) and one for TSS (July 1998), but having more than 12 daily maximum violations for BOD and TSS, as well as significant violations for other parameters and a history of being in "Significant Non-Compliance", Woonsocket received a treatment rating of Poor. Woonsocket also attained an O&M rating of Poor.

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