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RI Coastal Resources Management Council preserve, protect, develop, and restore coastal resources for all Rhode Islanders

Onsite Wastewater Treatment Systems

In areas where public sewer lines are not available, property owners rely upon onsite wastewater treatment systems (OWTS) for the treatment and disposal of wastewater generated from a residential or commercial building. The installation, repair, modification or replacement of any OWTS must be reviewed and approved by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM) through their OWTS permit program. Additionally, the installation, repair, modification or replacement of any OWTS within CRMC's jurisdiction must also be reviewed and a permit issued by CRMC to ensure that the new OWTS will conform with all applicable coastal program provisions (See Section 300.6 of the coastal resources management program).

For additional information on obtaining an OWTS permit from DEM or to review the latest OWTS Rules, please visit the following DEM website:

OWTS in Critical Erosion Areas

Care must be taken when installing or repairing any OWTS directly along the coastal shoreline to ensure that ongoing coastal erosion does not damage the OWTS or leave it vulnerable to coastal erosion in the near future. The DEM has established "OWTS Repair Guidance in Critical Erosion Areas." For further information on this DEM guidance, please click on the following link:

OWTS Denitrification Requirements

The watersheds of the Narrow River and the Salt Pond Region are defined by DEM as Critical Resource Areas in the DEM OWTS Rules. Advanced treatment nitrogen reduction OWTS technology is required for any new installation, repair, modification or replacement of any OWTS within these Critical Resources Areas. For additional information, please click on the following DEM link:

Cesspool Phase-out Requirements

In accordance with the Cesspool Phase-out Act of 2007, the DEM has promulgated rules that  require the replacement of any cesspool located within 200 feet of a coastal shoreline feature (i.e., corresponding with CRMC jurisdiction) with a new OWTS or connection to a nearby public sewer line no later than January 1, 2013. For additional information on cesspool phase-out please visit the DEM website here:

The New England Onsite Wastewater Training Program located at the University of Rhode Island

Stedman Government Center
Suite 116, 4808 Tower Hill Road, Wakefield, RI 02879-1900
Voice 401-783-3370 • Fax 401-783-2069 • E-Mail

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