The Narragansett Bay Commission’s third and final phase of a multi-year water quality project will cost about $815 million, if state and federal regulators approve the plan. This final phase could bring the project's total cost to about $1.5 billion.
The project, known as the combined sewer overflow (CSO) project, involves installing a large tunnel that would run through Pawtucket, Central Falls and the northern part of East Providence. The tunnel would stop untreated sewage and stormwater from overflowing into Narragansett Bay during heavy rainstorms.
Raymond Marshall, executive director of the Narragansett Bay Commission, said it’s important to complete the third phase of the project to improve water quality and comply with the federal Clean Water Act.
“If we implement phase 3, as opposed to stopping at the end of phase 2, in the shellfishing areas, which are located south of Conimicut Point, we’ll pick up about 3 ½ to 4 ½ days of additional shellfishing after every storm,” said Marshall.
The commission considered several options to move forward with the project, all of them costly. Ratepayers, including some of the poorest communities serviced by the wastewater agency, will foot most of the bill.
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