PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is soliciting comments on the state’s Impaired Waters List and will hold a virtual public workshop next month to review statewide water quality findings.
A virtual public workshop will be held on Tuesday, October 6 to present findings of the full statewide assessment of water quality conditions, including the draft Impaired Waters List. Due to the Covid-19 emergency, which prevents the Division from holding public meetings in-person, the public workshop will be held virtually in accordance with Governor Raimondo’s Executive Order 20-05.
WHAT: Virtual Public Workshop to Discuss Findings of Statewide Water Quality Assessment
WHEN: Tuesday, October 6 at 3 PM
WHERE: Join Zoom Meeting: https://zoom.us/j/4993285334
Meeting ID: 499 328 5334
To join the public hearing using your phone for audio, click on "Join by Phone" and follow the information on the screen to dial in. All participants will be muted upon joining the meeting. Following a presentation on the results, DEM will take questions and comments via voice or chat. To make a comment during the hearing, participants should click the "Raise Hand" button on the screen or type into the chat, which will be monitored.
At the October 6th workshop, DEM representatives will describe the state’s water quality assessment process, general findings of this assessment including new waterbody impairments added to the Impaired Waters List and the proposed removal of others. The state’s priorities for completing the federally mandated water quality restoration studies will also be discussed.
DEM’s Office of Water Resources assesses the quality of the state’s surface waters by comparing available monitoring data against the state’s established water quality criteria to determine whether the waters are suitable for such uses as swimming, fish/shellfish consumption, and aquatic life. The results of this assessment are presented in the state’s Integrated Water Quality Monitoring and Assessment Report (Integrated Report), which documents the overall quality of the state’s waters. It includes a five-part Integrated List which provides available information on each of the state’s lakes, ponds, rivers, streams and estuarine waters. The process of conducting the assessment is documented in the Consolidated Assessment and Listing Methodology at: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/benviron/water/quality/pdf/calm20.pdf.
As part of the process, DEM identifies those surface waters that do not meet water quality criteria for which a water quality restoration study known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) is required in accordance with the federal Clean Water Act. These impaired waters are placed on the state’s 303(d) List, named for the Clean Water Act section that establishes the requirement, which also establishes a schedule for development of the federally mandated studies. The draft 303(d) List is included in the state’s Impaired Waters Report, available on-line on DEM’s website at: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/benviron/water/quality/pdf/303d1820.pdf.
DEM has also identified those waterbody impairments that can be removed from the list of impaired waters, because available monitoring data show that water quality criteria are now being met or more appropriate causes of impairment have been documented. Documentation of the data and supporting information justifying removal of waterbody impairments can be found in Rhode Island’s 2018-2020 De-listing Document, also available on-line at: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/benviron/water/quality/pdf/iwlr1820.pdf.
Among the four waterbodies showing improved water quality and proposed for removal of an impairment from the Impaired Waters List are several noteworthy water quality improvements resulting from stringent permitting and investments in pollution abatement infrastructure and practices. Included for removal of impairments are Mt. Hope Bay, Blackstone River, and portions of Upper Narragansett Bay.
The full five-part draft Integrated List is also available on-line on DEM’s website at: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/benviron/water/quality/pdf/irrc1820.pdf.