Clean Water Week 2024

Clean Water Week

About Clean Water Week

With an astounding 400+ miles of coastline, clean water is at the center of our way of life in Rhode Island. Join us during Clean Water Week, April 7-14, 2024, and get a deeper look at the vital and complex community service that protects our waterways and our environment from pollution; our stormwater and sewer systems.

Since the adoption of the Clean Water Act in 1972, hundreds of millions of federal, state, and local funds have helped design, build, upgrade, and operate sewage collection and treatment systems throughout Rhode Island. Since the 1990s, state discharge permits for these facilities have become more stringent as DEM and its partners determined more about the impacts of pollution on our state's waters.

Combined, Rhode Island's wastewater treatment systems process some 120 million gallons of residential, commercial, and industrial wastewater every day. These facilities operate all day, every day, 365 days a year. DEM's work with wastewater facility operations and maintenance staff include cooperative efforts to protect these critical systems from the impacts and threats of issues such as climate change and cyber-attacks. In 2017, DEM conducted a comprehensive study of the potential impacts of climate change and related natural hazard on the state's nineteen wastewater systems. This study paved the way for the approval by statewide voters of a 2018 Green Economy and Clean Water bond that included funding to protect wastewater infrastructure from the hazards identified in the 2017 study. To date, some $4.7 million in grants have been awarded to 14 communities and the Quonset Development Corporation to better protect their wastewater systems from flooding and other natural hazards, which are expected to worsen in the coming decades. View a History of Wastewater Treatment Facility Construction Projects & Upgrades.

DEM salutes the decades of investments and construction of wastewater collections and treatment systems in the Ocean State and the hundreds of men and women who run and maintain the state's 19 wastewater treatment systems. These facilities and their professional operations are largely responsible for water quality improvements in Narragansett Bay.

While operators at wastewater treatment facilities are licensed by the Board of Certification of Operators of Wastewater Treatment Facilities, they prove their expertise in other ways. Since 1988, the Rhode Island Clean Water Association has sponsored Rhode Island operators and other wastewater professionals at regional and national "Operator Challenge" events—known by some as "the Wastewater Olympics." The Operator Challenge is a series of technical exams and fast-paced repair and safety events that place operators from different states in competition. Over the past several years, the Rhode Team took this competition to new levels.

Infrastructure Tours

From April 7–13, the Rhode Island Clean Water Association (RICWA) will sponsor Open Houses at some of the state’s water resource recovery facilities—the “hidden in plain sight” infrastructure that you pay for. You will be amazed at the process of making clean water! All tours are free. Pick your nearest facility & date! Check the local news for more information.

Partners and Resources