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DEM Begins Wet Weather Monitoring in Upper Bay

PROVIDENCE – The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM), began targeted wet weather monitoring in Upper Narragansett Bay.

Partnering with the Narragansett Bay Commission, the state’s environmental regulatory agency began evaluating water quality to assess improvements made as a result of the 2014 installation of wastewater overflow infrastructure.

The Narragansett Bay Commission completed  the Phase II CSO (Combined Sewer Overflow) improvements in the fall of 2014. According to DEM, the project connected additional CSO outfalls in Providence to the CSO storage tunnel, sending more combined sewage and storm water to the Fields Point Wastewater Treatment Facility for treatment.

The result is that less combined sewage and storm water is discharged into the Woonasquatucket and Providence Rivers following rain events.

Bacteria levels following rainfalls of 0.5″ to 2.5″ are being monitored to determine if shellfish closure triggers in Conditional Areas “A”, “B” and the Conimicut Triangle should be revised and if the size of the conditionally-approved areas can be reduced.

Current DEM protocol calls for  a seven-day closure of the Upper Bay Conditional Areas (Conimicut Triangle, Area A and Area B) when existing triggers are exceeded. This procedure will continue until otherwise noted.

DEM expects to use post-storm monitoring data and operational information to determine whether these areas can be opened earlier.

For up-to-date information on closures call DEM’s shellfishing hotline at 401-222-2900.

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