January 13, 2010

Whitehouse Visits Clean Water Project Funded by Economic Recovery Bill

Providence, RI – As Rhode Island and the nation struggle to create local jobs and maintain a clean water infrastructure, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) today visited a Providence facility preparing to begin construction to dramatically expand its capacity to reduce pollution in Narragansett Bay. Whitehouse was at the Narragansett Bay Commission’s Field Point facility in Providence to learn about their efforts to reduce nitrogen discharges into the Bay in order to prevent algae blooms that can choke out other sea life and lead to massive fish kills like the infamous 2003 Greenwich Bay incident.

“Maintaining and improving Rhode Island’s water and wastewater infrastructure is vital to economic development and the public health,” said Whitehouse. “During these tough economic times, it makes good sense to fund projects like this that help our environment and put people to work.”

The Narragansett Bay Commission plans to employ Integrated Fixed Film Activated Sludge (IFAS) technology to reduce nitrogen waste in its ten wastewater aeration tanks. Through this emerging and increasingly popular technology, engineered plastic media are suspended in each tank. The media encourages the rapid growth of microbes, which break down and remove wastewater pollutants by using them as a supply of food. The result will be a cleaner, more eco-friendly bay with healthier fish populations.

The project will create approximately 75 jobs for local workers and will involve the construction of a new operations building, chemical storage tanks, and an upgrade of the facility’s electrical system.

Whitehouse recently joined a group of 24 senators who wrote to President Obama to urge that any new job creation efforts focus in part on infrastructure investment. The senators singled out water infrastructure in particular, noting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that we currently have a $662 billion water and wastewater infrastructure deficit.


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