STATE HOUSE — Legislation sponsored by Sen. V. Susan Sosnowski and Rep. Teresa A. Tanzi that will eventually phase out cesspools in Rhode Island was signed today by Gov. Gina M. Raimondo at the Save the Bay Center. (H 5668 and S 369)
“This legislation not only protects our environment, but gets Rhode Islanders in the building trades back to work updating and modernizing our wastewater treatment systems,” said Governor Raimondo. “By setting us on a path to remove cesspools from yards and other property across the state, we will be taking important steps towards improving the water quality of Narragansett Bay, our beaches, and our drinking water.”
Many Rhode Island homes have outdated underground wastewater systems. These systems, often cesspools, are inefficient and ineffective and contribute to public health and environmental hazards. This legislation replaces outdated systems at the point of sale and improves neighborhoods and local infrastructure.
“Cesspools are an outdated form of handling wastewater; for this reason, the state banned the installation of new cesspools over 40 years ago,” said Senator Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37, South Kingstown, New Shoreham). “The main advantage of the using point-of-sale approach for cesspool phase-out is that the cost of replacing a cesspool can be taken into account in the selling price of the home and/or the financing of the home.”
Representative Tanzi (D-Dist. 34, South Kingstown, Narragansett) added, “With this new law, we are taking a crucial step toward reducing pollution and contamination of one of our state's most precious natural resources: our water. We are the Ocean State, and because water never stops traveling, every community must be engaged in protecting our resources. I'm proud that this law will set the wheels in motion for the eventual removal of all remaining cesspools, and in doing so eliminating a threat to the health of our marine economy, our environment and the public.”
Janet Coit, director of the Department of Environmental Management, said, “Rhode Island is a national leader in advanced septic technology, yet there are still about 25,000 cesspools throughout the state. Now is the time to eliminate these antiquated and substandard systems and move forward with modern solutions. Great strides have been made over the past decades to reduce the discharge of pollutants into our waters, including a dramatic improvement in our wastewater treatment efforts. I laud the passage of the new point-of-sale requirement and will continue our important efforts to clean up, restore and safeguard Rhode Island's precious water resources.”