Wastewater MANAGEMENT 

wastewater management save the bay

Wastewater Treatment and Disposal

Wastewater is the water from toilets, sinks, and showers. It is also water from businesses and restaurants. It travels through pipes and is "treated" before being discharged into Narragansett Bay.

How it is treated 

  1. Municipal or regional wastewater facilities remove or reduce pollution before discharging the treated wastewater through a pipe into the Bay or local rivers. Wastewater treatment facilities are required to remove most of the bacteria, metals, and nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus).    
  2. Septic systems are "on site" facilities that provide treatment of wastewater from homes and businesses that aren't served by large, central wastewater treatment facilities. 

The cesspool problem

In addition, more than 25,000 Rhode Island homes use cesspools, which are basically lined holes in the ground that do not adequately remove bacteria or nutrients from household wastewater. Cesspools contaminate groundwater, drinking water, and coastal areas. Save The Bay has pressed for the removal of cesspools through phase-out legislation (2013).

Wastewater treatment facility upgrades

For decades, Save The Bay has advocated for the construction and upgrade of wastewater treatment plants to reduce bacteria and nutrient pollution in Narragansett Bay. There are 35 publicly-owned wastewater treatment facilities that discharge into the Narragansett Bay watershed and other Rhode Island waters. Nineteen of these lie within Rhode Island borders with the remaining 16 in Massachusetts. The four largest plants are the Narragansett Bay Commission facilities at Fields Point (Providence) and Bucklin Point (East Providence), the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District (UBWPAD) facility in Worcester, MA, and the Brockton Advanced Water Reclamation Facility in Brockton, MA.

Clean Water Act of 1972

The enactment of the federal Clean Water Act in 1972 empowered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) with regulating wastewater pollution. In 1982, in the midst of an onslaught of toxic materials coming from sewage treatment, Save The Bay published “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly” to focus attention on the still large amounts of suspended solids, chlorine and toxic metals coming from wastewater treatment plants.