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With Woonsocket Sewage Treatment Plant Repairs Causing Improvements in Water Quality of Blackstone River, DEM Lifts No-Contact Advisory

PROVIDENCE, RI The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is lifting the no-contact advisory it placed June 5 on the stretch of the Blackstone River and any waters that receive flow from the Blackstone River, including but not limited to the Blackstone Canal and Scott Pond, from the Woonsocket Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility located at 11 Cumberland Hill Road, Woonsocket, to the Slater Mill Dam in Pawtucket. The City of Woonsocket owns the plant but contracts its operations and maintenance out to Jacobs, a Texas-based consulting and engineering firm, and related sludge treatment systems to Synagro Technologies Inc. headquartered in Baltimore.

DEM issued the advisory recommending that residents temporarily refrain from wading, swimming, canoeing, kayaking, or fishing and from eating any fish caught in these waters after receiving notification from Jacobs, as required by the facility's discharge permit, that there was a process upset and solids washout at the treatment facility. Since June 6, DEM has had inspectors at the site daily investigating process and equipment failures that may have resulted in the loss of full treatment and observing the steps being taken by the city and its vendors to ensure a return to permit compliance. DEM also required the city and its vendor to increase sampling and testing of final effluent and sample the river upstream and downstream of the facility to monitor impacts.

In response, the city and its contractors installed additional solids-removal equipment and made other improvements that have resulted in the facility consistently meeting its effluent permit limits for the past few days. Based on this and improved water quality readings from the Blackstone, DEM is lifting the no-contact advisory effective immediately.

DEM will continue to investigate the causes of the incident and the response by the city and its contractor operations firm before taking appropriate action.

For more information about DEM divisions and programs, visit www.dem.ri.gov or follow us on Facebook, Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM), or Instagram (@rhodeisland.dem) for timely updates.

Related links

  • Department or agency: Department of Environmental Management
  • Online: http://www.dem.ri.gov/
  • Release date: 06-17-2022

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