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Water Resources

Progress Update on Recodification of OWTS and Stormwater Rules

The RI Department of Environmental Management Office of Water Resources has Draft recodifications of the RI Stormwater Design and Installation Standards Manual (“Stormwater Manual”) and the Rules Establishing Minimum Standards Relating to Location, Design, Construction and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (“OWTS Rules”) available for review.

In accordance with the RI Administrative Procedures Act (RIGL §42-35-5), all state regulations must be reformatted and recodified by December 31, 2018. This recodification must follow a standard format used for all state regulations. Recodification for most of DEM’s Rules required a basic reformatting with no wording changes. However, since the Stormwater Manual and the OWTS Rules presented unique circumstances involving guidance that needed to be addressed (explained below), the Department is making these Draft Rules available for review prior to going to formal public notice and hearing.

It must be stressed that the recodification for both the Stormwater Manual and the OWTS Rules involved no substantive changes to either Rule. Stormwater management requirements and OWTS requirements will be exactly the same under the recodified rules as they are today under the existing Rules.

 

If you have questions on the current version of the Draft Rules please contact the staff persons identified below. A final version of these Rules will go to formal public notice in August with a public hearing scheduled for early September.


Stormwater Manual

The RI Stormwater Manual was adopted in December 2010 following the standard rule-making process used by RI DEM and the Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC). However, the Manual was not written in typical rule format, and a great deal of the Manual is not regulatory and in fact acts as guidance. Only those parts of the original Manual that are regulatory are included in the recodified “RI Stormwater Management, Design and Installation Rules” (“Stormwater Rules”). Regulatory language describes actions that the regulated public must do or must not do. As a result, background information, diagrams, photos, and most of the Appendices are not included in the recodified Stormwater Rules.

There is no track changes document showing the changes that have been made to recodify the Manual. Because of the extensive changes necessary to convert a non-regulatory Manual into a rule, a track changes document would have been unmanageable and unreadable to follow. Therefore, rather than “amend” the original Manual, the recodified Stormwater Management, Design and Installation Rules will be adopted and the original Manual will be repealed.

DEM and CRMC acknowledge that the original Manual requirements and guidance need to be updated. However, no such changes are being proposed at this time. Once the recodified Stormwater Rules have been adopted, DEM will initiate a process to seek public input and propose technical changes to these Rules. Until that process is completed, the original Stormwater Design and Installation Standards Manual will remain intact and placed on the DEM and CRMC webpages as reference for applicants.

If you have questions on the recodification of the RI Stormwater Design and Installation Standards Manual, please contact: Ernie Panciera, DEM Office of Water Resources, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908; 401-222-4700 x7603; ernie.panciera@dem.ri.gov.


OWTS Rules

The Rules Establishing Minimum Standards Relating to Location, Design, Construction, and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems (OWTS Rules) have been reformatted to fit the R.I. Code of Regulations style as required by the R.I. Administrative Procedures Act. In addition, those prescriptive portions of the DEM Guidelines for the Design, Use, and Maintenance of Pressurized Drainfields (2013) (Pressurized Drainfield Guidance) written using terms such as “Shall” or “Must” that can be interpreted as regulatory requirements have been integrated into the OWTS rule. As necessary the language was lightly edited to fit the RICR style or correct errors but every effort has been made to preserve the intent of the Pressurized Drainfield Guidance. The added language does not create new requirements governing the choice of specific leachfield types, expand the scope of the regulations, or increase the size of the regulated population. Instead, the rules will now codify the existing design requirements for pressurized leachfields found in the Pressurized Drainfield Guidance and already regularly used by applicants. No specific leachfield type is required on any particular site under the proposed OWTS Rules. The choice is instead left to the professional judgement of the Licensed Designer and based on applying the OWTS Rules to the site configuration, proposed use, and the soil conditions.

As indicated above, no substantive changes have been made to the remainder of the OWTS Rules. Furthermore, as with the Stormwater Manual, DEM plans to solicit public input regarding proposed technical changes to the OWTS rules in the future after the recodified rules have been adopted.

If you have questions on the recodification of the Rules Establishing Minimum Standards Relating to Location, Design, Construction, and Maintenance of Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems, please contact: Jonathan Zwarg, DEM Office of Water Resources, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908; 401-222-4700 x7205; jonathan.zwarg@dem.ri.gov.

Rev. 7/27/18