See for Yourself How Polluted Stormwater Reaches Mashapaug Pond

Max Greene

It’s raining in Providence right now. And that means water is running across the city’s rooftops, roads, and parking lots, picking up pollutants like oil and animal waste, and depositing them into water bodies like Mashapaug Pond. The term for this polluted rainwater is stormwater runoff, and it’s one of the reasons Mashapaug Pond has been unfit for swimming and fishing for decades.

I’ve told you before about CLF’s lawsuit seeking to fix this problem by getting EPA to curb pollution from stormwater runoff, as the Clean Water Act requires.  Now, though, I’d like to show you what this runoff looks like.

This morning I visited Mashapaug Pond and took some videos of water running into the pond from the industrial park on its northwest shore. Below, you can watch them and I’ll tell you a little bit about what you’re seeing.

First, some of the rainwater runs across the rooftops of the broad, flat buildings in the industrial park. The water pours off the roof from downspouts onto a paved area behind the buildings and right next to the pond. It flows across the pavement, through a narrow bit of greenery, and into the pond.

Here’s a closer view of the water running across the pavement toward the pond:

Elsewhere in the industrial park, water runs across parking lots, driveways, and roads, and into storm drains:

After water enters these drains, it joins with water from other storm drains and surges into the pond through outfalls like this one (located at a public park just next to the industrial park):

Just imagine how much pollution is being carried along by that rushing water into this one fragile pond in Rhode Island – then multiply that by the thousands of rivers, lakes, and ponds throughout New England and you begin to understand the scale of the stormwater runoff problem and its impact on the health of our waters.

This is not the way things have to work. Here in Rhode Island, if EPA lets the owners of the commercial and industrial property around Mashapaug Pond know that they need stormwater-discharge permits, then those property owners will have to take steps to clean up or eliminate their runoff to the pond. And this is exactly what we’re asking EPA to do with our lawsuit.

So, now that you’ve had a chance to see for yourself how polluted stormwater reaches Mashapaug Pond, please join me and my CLF colleagues in telling EPA: now is the time to do something about stormwater pollution in Mashapaug Pond.

To learn more about the impact of stormwater on Mashapaug Pond, watch my short video here:

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