To the Editor:
Rhode Island’s Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and Save the Bay feel that Warwick’s cesspools are a major cause of water pollution in the Warwick area. However, they don’t cite a scientific study to prove their assertions. Storm water runoff may be the major cause of Warwick’s pollution problems. Since the storm water runoff problems have to be solved, the prudent thing to do is solve the storm water runoff problems first and see if this action solves the water pollution problems in the Warwick area. If pollution problems are solved, thousands of Warwick’s cesspool owners would not have to replace their cesspools.
To solve the storm water runoff problems, Horizontal Directional Drilling (HDD) should be used to drill pipelines along the streets in Warwick’s bayside and riverside areas to collect storm water runoff. Because HDD does not require the digging of trenches, construction would proceed rapidly with few traffic disruptions and minor community inconvenience. Storm drains and catch basins would be installed along each street to channel the runoff to the new pipelines. This new storm drain and catch basin system would not have to be connected to homes and businesses. It would be connected to a newly constructed wetland area.
Modern sewage treatment facilities now incorporate Constructed Wetland Systems as part of their wastewater treatment procedures because they are relatively inexpensive to build and require very little maintenance. Plant life in these systems naturally remove pollutants from storm water (especially nitrogen and phosphorus), and provide homes for many animal species. Where built, these Constructed Wetland Systems have become tourist attractions and are being used as outdoor classrooms for public school and college students.
The cost of building this storm water treatment system would be a fraction of the cost to replace the thousands of cesspools in Warwick. In addition, thousands of bird watchers and animal lovers would visit this newly constructed wetland every year and thousands of public school and college students would gain valuable knowledge about wildlife and environmental management.