PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) today is advising the public to refrain from contact recreation in the Pawtuxet River. In an abundance of caution, officials recommend washing your hands before eating or drinking if there was contact with the Pawtuxet River downstream of the West Warwick wastewater treatment facility. This advisory will remain in effect until sunrise tomorrow, Wednesday, May 2.
Based on information gathered from the Town of West Warwick, the facility experienced a power failure at around 12:30 AM today that interrupted the process of disinfection, which is the last step all treated wastewater undergoes before being discharged. Facility workers restored power at about 3:30 AM. The interruption to disinfection lasted about 40 minutes and caused 180,000 gallons of only partially treated effluent to be discharged into the Pawtuxet River.
DEM is investigating the incident, which will not affect shellfishing in Narragansett Bay.
Located at 1 Pontiac Avenue, the regional treatment facility serves more than 31,000 customers in parts of Coventry, Cranston, East Greenwich, Warwick, West Greenwich, and West Warwick. It treats around 5 million gallons of wastewater a day.