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ENVIRONMENT

Partly treated sewage found running into Blackstone River in R.I.

Residents are being urged to avoid swimming, boating or fishing in the river from Cumberland Hill Road in Woonsocket to the Slater Mill Dam in Pawtucket

Rainfall from remnants of Hurricane Ida flow down the rising Blackstone River near Ashton Mill village in Cumberland on Thursday, Sept. 2, 2021.Carlos Muñoz

WOONSOCKET, R.I. — Environmental officials are urging residents to avoid a stretch of the Blackstone River after finding that sewage was leaking into the river from a wastewater treatment plant on Sunday.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management said it's investigating the discharge of partly treated wastewater from the Woonsocket Regional Wastewater Treatment Facility. Officials said they were made aware of the discharge Sunday morning and that it is “currently ongoing.”

Residents are being urged to avoid swimming, boating or fishing in the river from Cumberland Hill Road in Woonsocket to the Slater Mill Dam in Pawtucket. The advisory will remain in effect until further notice.

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The treatment plant is operated by the private firm Jacobs, and treats about 10 million gallons of sewage a day, according to the department. The agency said it previously issued letters of noncompliance to the facility in November 2021 and March 2022 regarding “operations and maintenance concerns.”

Jacobs did not immediately respond to a request for comment.