While the Narragansett Bay Commission's Combined Sewer Overflow tunnel has done a great job eliminating sewer overflows and capturing and treating lots of stormwater, pollution from stormwater remains a major challenge to water quality and habitat in the Upper Bay.
Animal waste, oil and grease, plastics, litter, trash, and other pollutants wash in to the Bay. It's among the top environmental problems in the watershed.
This video is from a stormwater outfall near the Community Boating Center in Providence, at the head of Providence Harbor. Note the oily sheen and small particles washing into the River, and the goose poop near my (soaked) feet...
Here's another one, located near the old Shepard's Warehouse Building off Allen's Avenue near the Port of Providence. This one is just a stream caused by the rainstorm- no pipe involved. Lots of trash just washing right into the Bay.
Addressing stormwater pollution is challenging and complex, because there are so many sources, and no centralized control as in wastewater. Often the best solutions involve the use of vegetation, open space, and minimizing paved or impervious surfaces. Vegetated buffers and coastal marshes and wetlands help to naturally slow the flow and filter the pollution out before it reaches our waterways.
Save The Bay works closely with the various state and municipal agencies across Rhode Island and Southeastern Massachusetts to encourage low-impact development practices, habitat restoration, and stormwater education initiatives such as storm drain marking and shoreline cleanups. -JT