The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is investigating the discharge of partially-treated wastewater into the Blackstone River. The DEM first learned of the discharge coming from the Woonsocket Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility from a constituent’s social media post.
The Cumberland Hill Road facility, owned by the city of Woonsocket, treats roughly 10 million gallons of sewage daily. This follows a series of unpermitted discharges between March and June last year, which the DEM also investigated.
The DEM recommends people avoid taking part in recreational activities such as fishing, swimming, canoeing and kayaking, and eating fish caught from the river until further notice. The cause of the discharge is unknown at this time, though the DEM is monitoring the steps the city and Jacobs, the private contractor in charge of running the facility, are taking to ensure a return to permit compliance.