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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

Media Contact: Todd McLeish 874-7892

More advanced septic systems to be installed
in South County to aid groundwater, pond protection

National project demonstrates
viability of innovative technologies

KINGSTON, R.I. -- May 6, 2003 -- In the second stage of a project designed to demonstrate the viability of new septic system technologies, 13 homes in South Kingstown and Charlestown are having enhanced treatment septic systems installed in May. The new systems will replace outdated or leaking systems that are currently in use.

The installations are funded in part by a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to the University of Rhode Island and the towns. The grant aims to help protect public health and sensitive coastal waterways that are being affected by old and ineffective wastewater treatment methods and equipment. Both communities have adopted wastewater ordinances in recent years requiring septic system inspections and repair of failing systems, and South Kingstown is phasing-out cesspools.

"Those that fail the inspections must have their systems repaired or replaced," explained Lorraine Joubert, a research associate at URI’s Cooperative Extension and coordinator of the EPA grant. "Most homeowners can upgrade their septic systems with standard, conventional technologies consisting of a septic tank and drainfield. But homeowners with small lots or those with poor drainage, a high water table, shallow wells, or nearby ponds or streams may need to consider some of these newer technologies."

Most of the advanced treatment systems feature sand, peat, or textile filters that clean the wastewater before it reaches the drainfield. Because the effluent has already been filtered, the drainfield can often be one-third to one-half the size of conventional systems. This eliminates the need for extensive site disturbance and filling, so on a difficult site, the cost of an advanced treatment system is often about the same as conventional systems. URI will monitor the systems to demonstrate their effectiveness.

Once the installations are complete, area residents can visit the demonstration sites to learn about the variety of options available. Interested residents can also attend a three-hour workshop and tour on June 26 to visit the sites and learn how to choose, operate and maintain the proper system for their needs. The workshop costs $25. For registration information, call the URI Home*A*Syst office at 874-5398 or email

The first phase of the installations took place in 2001 when a dozen homes had advanced septic systems installed by members of the Rhode Island Independent Contractors and Associates, under the supervision of URI researchers.

"One of the exciting features of this year’s installations is that the contractors that were trained by URI to do the installation of the first group of systems are now training other installers who have applied to learn the process," said Joubert. "This training process is part of what is making the town wastewater management programs a success. Other states are worried about how they’re going to train all the necessary installers of these technologies. Our ‘train the trainer’ approach will likely be a model for other states around the country."

For Information: Lorraine Joubert 874-2138

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