Middletown, RI’s sewage overflows and stormwater discharges, in conjunction with stormwater contamination from the adjacent city of Newport, repeatedly forced closures of popular public beaches on Easton’s Bay. During closures, residents were warned not to swim in the bay due to health hazards caused by high concentrations of fecal coliform and enterococcus bacteria.
In 2008, NELC served the Town of Middletown with a Notice of Violation and Intent to Sue on behalf of Environment Rhode Island, aiming to push the town to improve its wastewater management system. Following receipt of the notice, Middletown committed several million dollars to address its illegal stormwater discharges and commissioned a study to evaluate alternatives to its deficient stormwater system. And in 2010, after negotiations and further study, NELC filed a lawsuit, which allowed the parties to jointly file a court-approved consent decree requiring the town to begin implementing a construction plan to eliminate sewage overflows by the end of the year.