30
Examining Increased Precipitation and Flood Frequency and Its Impact On Waste Water Treatment Facilities in The Pawtuxet River Valley of Rhode Island

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Tuesday, 6 January 2015
David R. Vallee, NOAA/NWS, Taunton, MA; and B. Patenaude

Handout (6.1 MB)

Torrential rainfall and record flooding struck the Pawtuxet River Valley of central Rhode Island in March 2010. Impacts on waste water treatment facilities in the towns of West Warwick and Warwick were severe. The Pawtuxet Valley has experienced significant urbanization since the late 1960s, including the addition of major shopping malls and two interstates in the lower portion of the basin. In addition, the basin has experienced a significant increase in annual precipitation and heavy rainfall episodes, while also experiencing a pronounced increase in the frequency and magnitude of floods. The combined impacts of urbanization and a wetter climate highlighted by the devastating floods in 2010 have brought to the forefront the tremendous challenges facing the area's waste water treatment industry.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Office of Water Resources has begun an extensive effort to conduct waste water treatment facility vulnerability assessments aimed at identifying at-risk infrastructure. The Office of Water Resources has also developed a robust training program for waste water superintendents to help them make informed decisions to address the challenges facing their individual systems. This presentation will review the devastating floods of March 2010, illustrate the increased rainfall and flood frequency in the basin, and will discuss the work being done to address the challenges facing the waste water treatment industry as a result of a changing climate in the Pawtuxet Valley.