water quality

John Bender / RIPR

Upper Narragansett Bay is cleaner than it used to be. That’s according to the latest data from the Narragansett Bay Commission.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Earlier this spring, we brought you a report from our series Battle With The Sea about the impact of climate change on Aquidneck Island's drinking water with warmer temperatures, heavier rains, and more intense storms. But there’s more to the story. We pick up where we left off.

The bill that requires phasing out cesspools heads to the governor’s office, after the Senate and House passed it.  It will take effect January 1, 2016.

Homeowners who are selling their property or transferring ownership have 12 months within the date of sale or transfer to remove and replace their cesspools.  

Low-interest loans and hardship waivers will be available for low-income property owners or purchasers. 

This post has been updated.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

A group of artists, scientists, educators, and residents who want to promote the health of urban ponds will march in a parade later today in Providence for the eighth year in a row. Mashapaug Pond and its watershed in the Pawtuxet River basin are the centerpieces of the Urban Pond Procession. The pond is on the state’s list of impaired waters. It’s not a safe body of water in which to swim or fish.

The procession, focused on water this year, returns with its distinct handmade art by students from schools in the south side of Providence.

Courtesy of Narragansett Bay Commission

The board of the Narragansett Bay Commission has voted to move forward with the final phase of a water quality project designed to overhaul its old sewer systems. The wastewater agency is struggling with how much it will cost to complete the project, aimed at further improving water quality in Narragansett Bay.

The Narragansett Bay Commission’s third and final phase of a multi-year water quality project will cost about $815 million, if state and federal regulators approve the plan. This final phase could bring the project's total cost to about $1.5 billion.

The project, known as the combined sewer overflow (CSO) project, involves installing a large tunnel that would run through Pawtucket, Central Falls and the northern part of East Providence. The tunnel would stop untreated sewage and stormwater from overflowing into Narragansett Bay during heavy rainstorms.

The board of the Narragansett Bay Commission will vote tomorrow on how to approach the third and final phase of the Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) project. That project aims to reduce the amount of untreated sewage and polluted runoff entering Narragansett Bay and its tributaries. The board will discuss three options at a meeting tonight.

Today is Earth Day and state leaders are awarding $3.3 million dollars in grants to improve water quality in Rhode Island.

Cleanliness Of Narragansett Bay Improving Steadily

Jul 29, 2014
Catherine Welch / RIPR

"Watershed Counts," a collection of information that focuses on the water quality of the state's beaches, reports that the health of Narragansett Bay is improving. However, the report also monitors the effects of global warming and pollution on the bay and has found that beaches are still being closed due to higher than average bacterial levels in the water. 

Nicole Rohr of the University of Rhode Island's Coastal Institute worked on the report. She says climate change is causing more unpredictable storms, which has led to more polluted runoff into the bay. 

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

For this month's Artscape, Rhode Island Public Radio's environmental reporter Ambar Espinoza profiles the Urban Pond Procession, a group of artists, scientists, educators, and residents who want to promote the health of urban ponds. The group's focal point is around raising awareness about the contamination that plagues Mashapaug Pond on the south side of Providence and ways to heal it.

If you have a cesspool within 200 feet of a drinking well, a public reservoir, or the coastline, expect to receive a $200 citation in the mail from the Department of Environmental Management. The deadline to replace cesspools with a septic system or to connect to a municipal sewer system has passed.

Cesspools are holes in the ground used to get rid of human waste from buildings. The untreated waste seeps into the soil and contaminates ground and surface waters. A law to phase out cesspools focuses on cesspools within public drinking water supplies or the coastline. 

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

Rhode Island is remarkably close to meeting a goal of reducing nitrogen discharged in upper Narragansett Bay by 50 percent. Upgrades at wastewater treatment plants have played a major role in helping meet this goal. Rhode Island Public Radio’s environment reporter Ambar Espinoza joined Elisabeth Harrison in the studio to talk about what it means to reduce the amount of nitrogen we put into the bay.

Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

It’s been a decade since a big fish kill in Greenwich Bay grabbed headlines.  It prompted the state to take more action for a healthier upper Narragansett Bay. Local wastewater treatment plants responded and it turns out, the state is on track to meet the goal of cutting back how much nitrogen we put into Narragansett Bay. That’s great news for one quahog fisherman who’s made a livelihood from the bay for decades.

There’s no better season to go quahogging than the winter season for Warwick resident Jody King, even though he makes half as much money as he does in the summer.

Wikimedia Commons

A new report about Rhode Island’s beaches finds steady improvements in the water quality since 2008. Health officials closed beaches for fewer days last year than it did in 2011, and more improvements are in the works.