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LISTEN! October 20, 2009: Ian Donnis on WRNI "When the Sewage Hits the Fan"

Download a Save The Bay white paper released Oct. 16, 2009: Getting to an Island-Wide Wastewater and Stormwater Solution: Issues and Options for Aquidneck Island. 

Save The Bay supports a regional, island-wide solution to water and wastewater issues on Aquidneck Island. Failing septic systems and cesspools on the island have resulted in closed shellfish beds and beaches, leading to efforts to establish new sewage treatment capacity and the addition of sewers to areas in Portsmouth and Middletown.

Opposition to upgrading and extending sewers comes from concerns about the costs to local rate payers and from the concern that new sewers will lead to undesirable development on previously unbuildable land. Save The Bay lays it all out in the Fall 2009 issue of Tides. 

Become a Part of the Solution

Find the common denominator. Closed beaches and concerns about safe drinking water hurt property values. Homeowners can’t say, “I don’t fish, I don’t swim, I’m not affected.”

Make it fair and affordable. Investment must be made in wastewater treatment and stormwater management, and it should be shared equitably. Homeowners who already have invested in septic upgrades need to be treated fairly. Financing must be available to make the cost of sewer hookups easier for homeowners to absorb.

Address the growth issue. Portsmouth, Middletown and Newport need to address citizen concerns that sewer improvements will result in unwanted development. Growth, redevelopment and protected space must remain in suitable balance.

Face reality. Government, businesses and residents all must stop thinking there is a no-cost, no-growth, no-tax remedy or a take-no-action alternative. And it is critical to keep in mind that until we have an approved facilities plan, we can’t get started on seeking funding from sources other than local rate-payers.

Focus on the positive. Island beaches and water supplies can be clean again. There is a great example in Providence, where the Fields Point Sewage Treatment Plant was once practically non-functioning. The Providence River and large parts of the upper Bay were so contaminated they were a public health hazard. Boaters dodged sickening balls of untreated sewage and sailors feared the dangers of making contact with the water. Fishermen stayed far away.


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