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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:

June 13, 2000

Media Contact:

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


PROVIDENCE -The Department of Environmental Management will hold a public meeting on Thursday, June 15 in Barrington to discuss strategies for restoring water quality in the Barrington and Runnins Rivers.

DEM has developed water quality restoration plans, otherwise known as Total Maximum Daily Loading (TMDL) plans, to reduce bacterial contamination in the two rivers to acceptable levels. Such plans are mandated by the federal Clean Water Act and establish the maximum pollutant load that a waterbody can assimilate and still meet water quality standards.

The Runnins and Barrington Rivers are part of the Warren River watershed, which is located in Barrington, East Providence and Warren, Rhode Island and Seekonk, Swansea and Rehoboth, Massachusetts. During dry weather, the Barrington River does not meet the state's fecal coliform water quality standard for shellfish harvesting, and the entire river has been permanently closed to shellfishing since May 1998 as a result. Water sampling by DEM during wet weather has also demonstrated that the Barrington River does not meet the state's fecal coliform standard for swimming after periods of rainfall. The principal fecal coliform source to the Barrington River is the Runnins River. The Runnins River consistently fails to meet water quality standards for swimming during both wet and dry weather. The major sources of fecal coliform to the Runnins River have not yet been determined, despite the extensive monitoring and survey work undertaken in the watershed over the past several years.

The Runnins and Barrington Rivers and their associated streams, brooks, and wetlands serve as important wildlife habitat and recreational resources. As such, they are deemed high priorities for restoration by the department.

Recommended best management practices are broken out into wet weather and dry weather components. With regard to wet weather impacts, the major sources of fecal coliform bacteria have generally been identified, and the TMDL plan includes several stormwater best management practices (BMPs) to address these sources. With regard to dry weather impacts, further investigations are needed in the lower portion of the Runnins River watershed, much of which overlaps Massachusetts, to identify the major bacteria sources. Once these sources have been identified, they will be remediated through the development and implementation of appropriate BMPs.

The draft water quality restoration plan will be presented at the June 15 meeting at 7 p.m. in the Barrington Public Library at 281 County Road. A public review and comment period will extend until July 14, 2000.

Copies of the executive summaries will be available at the meeting. The entire draft TMDLs for the Runnins and Barrington Rivers will be available for review online before the meeting at DEM's website Copies are also available at the East Providence, Barrington and Seekonk Libraries. In addition, copies of the plan, additional information about the meeting, and information about the water quality restoration program in general are available by calling Heidi Travers at DEM's Water Quality Assessments Section at 222-4700 ext. 7613.

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