The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) will hold a virtual public workshop on June 23 to present an overview of a draft water quality restoration study for nine drinking water supply reservoirs owned by the City of Newport.  The meeting will provide an opportunity for DEM to present the findings of the draft Total Maximum Daily Load(TMDL) study and obtain input from stakeholders on the study results.

DEM will also present an introduction to the Aquidneck Island Watershed Plan during the public workshop. This plan, which will be developed by DEM’s Office of Water Resources, will address multiple water quality and aquatic habitat concerns across Aquidneck Island. This presentation will be a starting point to obtain stakeholder input on the priority issues, goals, and recommended action items needed for the watershed plan.  More information about the watershed plan is available here: 

Due to the Covid-19 emergency, which prevents the Department from holding public meetings in-person, this public hearing will be held virtually in accordance with Governor McKee’s Executive Order 21-30 which extends Executive Order 20-46.

WHAT:              Virtual Public Workshop to Discuss Findings of Draft TMDL Study and Provide an Overview of DEM’s Aquidneck Island Watershed Plan

WHEN:             Wednesday, June 23, 2021 | 3 – 5 PM

WHERE:            Join Zoom Meeting:

                        Meeting ID: 818 8731 9380

Passcode: 016565

To join the public workshop using your phone for audio, click on “Join by Phone” and follow the information on the screen to dial in. All participants will be muted upon joining the meeting. Following a presentation on the TMDL study results, DEM will take questions via voice or chat.  To ask a question during the meeting, participants should click the “Raise Hand” button on the screen or type into the chat, which will be monitored.

Seven of the nine water supply reservoirs are located on Aquidneck Island, including Lawton Valley Reservoir, Sisson Pond, Saint Mary’s Pond, North and South Easton Ponds, Gardiner Pond and Paradise Pond. Watson Reservoir is in Little Compton, and Nonquit Pond is in Tiverton.  All nine waterbodies are on Rhode Island’s 303(d) List of Impaired Waters as a result of elevated levels of total phosphorus and total organic carbon.  As assessed by DEM under federal Clean Water Act requirements, these waterbodies do not support the designated uses of drinking water supply and aquatic life support.

All nine water supply reservoirs are highly enriched with nutrients, particularly phosphorus, and experience frequent and long-lasting algal and cyanobacteria blooms – which impact aquatic life and the reservoirs’ use for drinking water purposes.  The primary sources of phosphorus come from urban, residential, and agricultural lands within the watersheds.  Other sources include internal cycling of phosphorus from reservoir sediments, the Tiverton Landfill, resident Canada geese, and streambank/streambed erosion in tributary streams.

TMDLs identify the maximum amount of pollutant a waterbody can receive while still meeting water quality standards. The TMDL analysis for each of the Newport water supply reservoirs included development of a phosphorus budget including identification and quantification of various sources; development of a target concentration of phosphorus such that applicable water quality standards would be met; estimates of the phosphorus load reductions needed to achieve the target concentrations; the allocation of load reductions among the various sources of phosphorus; and requirements and recommendations that municipalities and residents can take to reduce phosphorus loadings.  The draft TMDL is available at

The draft Aquidneck Island Watershed Plan to be developed provides a framework for managing efforts to both restore water quality in degraded areas and protect overall watershed health. Watershed plans assist states and municipalities in addressing nonpoint source pollution by providing a comprehensive assessment of nonpoint source pollution and a set of management measures to address them.

The public comment period on the draft TMDL opens on June 23, 2021. All interested parties are invited to submit written comments on the draft TMDL by August 6, 2021 to Brian Zalewsky at or via mail to Brian Zalewsky, DEM, Office of Water Resources, 235 Promenade Street, Providence, RI 02908. 

For more information on DEM programs and initiatives, visit Follow us on Facebook at or on Twitter (@RhodeIslandDEM) for timely updates.

What's Up Newp

Your local, independent source for What’s Up in Newport, Rhode Island, and beyond. Est. 2012