Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Water Quality Meeting

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The Department of Environmental Management will hold a public meeting on Thursday, July 29 to discuss strategies for restoring water quality in Belleville Ponds and Belleville Upper Pond Inlet. The meeting will take place from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. at North Kingstown Free Library located at 100 Boone Street in Wickford.

DEM has drafted a water quality restoration study, known as a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) that addresses long-standing phosphorus-related impairments to the pond. TMDLs are mandated by the federal Clean Water Act and establish the pollutant reduction needed to meet water quality standards.

Belleville Ponds and Bellville Upper Pond Inlet exhibit elevated levels of phosphorus. Elevated levels of phosphorus impair recreational uses in the pond and cause excessive growth of aquatic plants, which in turn can lead to low dissolved oxygen levels in the water column and harmful impacts to aquatic life.

The TMDL utilized water quality monitoring data of Belleville Ponds and Belleville Upper Pond Inlet collected by volunteers as part of URI’s Watershed Watch program, as well as sampling at the headwaters of the Belleville Upper Pond Inlet, conducted by DEM’s Division of Fish & Wildlife. This information was used to characterize water quality conditions and determine necessary pollutant reductions and pollution abatement activities. The study finds that in order to meet water quality standards, a 39 percent reduction in phosphorus loads to the ponds must be accomplished.

The most significant sources of phosphorus to the ponds are the state-run Lafayette Trout Hatchery, which discharges to Belleville Upper Pond Inlet (Hatchery Brook), and stormwater outfalls owned and operated by RIDOT and the Town of North Kingstown.

The TMDL includes a watershed-wide survey of stormwater conducted by DEM staff to identify the most significant sources of stormwater pollution. The TMDL sets forth both voluntary and mandatory pollution abatement activities to abate sources of phosphorus to the ponds, including improvements at the trout hatchery, and implementation of stormwater management improvements for the Town of North Kingstown and RIDOT-owned drainage systems. The TMDL also calls for improvements in stormwater management by two privately run operations, among other recommended actions.

DEM will present the draft TMDL findings and accept public comment on the TMDL at the July 29th meeting. Interested parties will have until August 29 to provide written comments about the restoration study for Belleville Ponds to DEM.

The entire document is available online on DEM’s website at: http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/benviron/water/quality/rest/reports.htm#draft. For more information about the meeting, draft TMDL study, or water quality issues in Belleville Ponds, contact Scott Ribas in DEM’s Office of Water Resources at 222-4700 ext. 4413 or via email at scott.ribas@dem.ri.gov. In a related matter, DEM’s Office of Water Resources also announces that it has developed a draft revised Rhode Island Pollution Discharge Elimination System (RIPDES) permit for the Lafayette Trout Hatchery, consistent with phosphorus reductions set forth in the Belleville Pond Phosphorus TMDL.

The public comment period for this draft permit will open on July 26 and will close on September 3. Comments on the draft RIPDES permit must be submitted to the DEM during this formal comment period. A RIPDES permit statement of basis describing the type of facility and significant factual, legal and policy questions considered in the permit renewal may be obtained by contacting Samuel Kaplan, P.E. in DEM’s Office of Water Resources at 222 4700 extension 7046 or by e-mail at samuel.kaplan@dem.ri.gov.

Should DEM’s Office of Water Resources receive a request on or before 4:00 p.m. on August 26 from 25 or more individuals, a governmental agency or subdivision, or an association having no less than 25 members, a public hearing on the draft RIPDES permit for Lafayette Trout Hatchery will be held on Thursday, September 2 at 4:00 p.m. in Room 280 at DEM Headquarters located at 235 Promenade Street in Providence. If a public hearing is held, oral testimony may be presented at that time. Any other comments on the draft RIPDES permit for the trout hatchery must be submitted to DEM in writing by 4:00 p.m. on September 3rd

source: RI Department of Environmental Management