Rhode Island

No Swimming, Officials Urge, After Sewage Leak Into Blackstone River

Residents are being urged to avoid swimming, boating or fishing in the river until further notice

Environmental officials are continuing to urge Rhode Island residents to avoid the Blackstone River after a wastewater treatment facility was found to be leaking only partly-treated sewage into it last week.

The no-contact advisory from the Department of Environmental Management, which was first announced Sunday, says that the public should avoid swimming, canoeing, kayaking, rowing and fishing in the river. These recommendations also apply to waters that flow out of the Blackstone River, including the Blackstone Canal and Scott Pond.

The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

The discharge is coming from the Woonsocket Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility, which is owned by the City of Woonsocket and operated by a private firm, Jacobs.

The DEM has been on site investigating the cause of the discharge extensively, according to a press release. The department is also monitoring steps the city has taken to "ensure a return to permit compliance" of the treatment plant.

The agency said it previously issued letters of noncompliance to the facility in November 2021 and March 2022 regarding “operations and maintenance concerns.” The plant treats between six and eight million gallons of sewage a day, the department said in a statement.

As part of their investigation, the DEM is continuing to sample the river. Following the release of their advisory on June 5, the department collected 20 water samples from the Seekonk and Providence Rivers, and their analysis concluded the discharge was not affecting waters in the lower Providence River and Upper Narragansett Bay.

Investigations remain ongoing.

Contact Us