LITTLE COMPTON — The Sakonnet Point Club is seeking a new permit that would enable it to move the outfall pipe for its desalination from the river outside the breakwater to calmer waters within the harbor.
The move, the club hopes, would prevent a repeat of earlier failures by that discharge system that apparently happened when it was dislodged by storm waves. Damage was done in the winter of 2010/2011 and then again by Tropical Storm Irene in 2011. Since then a tanker truck as served as the club’s water supply.
The RI Department of Environmental Management has posted notice that it is considering issuing a five-year permit for the new discharge plan.
The club, says DEM, has applied to redirect its discharge from the reverse osmosis drinking water system to a new outfall structure within the harbor harbor. “The discharge will be identical to that which was previously approved to discharge into the Sakonnet River (outside the breakwater) which consisted of brackish effluent … The draft permit has been developed by the DEM and contains effluent limitations and conditions to ensure that the proposed discharge will not violate water quality standards.”
Club President Chris Burns said that DEM’s draft permit “is the product of almost a year’s worth of testing and analysis by the club’s engineer’s and scientists working in close collaboration with DEM.” That process analyzed “every aspect of the relocation of the outflow to the harbor … (and) confirms that relocating the outflow will have no adverse impact on water quality or marine habitats in the harbor. In addition, the protected nature of the harbor will greatly reduce the possibility that the outflow will be damaged during heavy storms.”
Joseph B. Haberek, principal sanitary engineer for DEM, wrote that, “Based on our review and coordination with DEM Shellfish Water Quality Monitoring Program, it has been determined that the proposed discharge will not cause any adverse impacts to human health as it relates to consumption of aquatic organisms…” and … “Based on the DEM Marine Fisheries Section review… it was determined that there would not be any measureable adverse impacts to habitat if the outfall [was] relocated to the proposed location in the Sakonnet Harbor.”
Longtime Point Club adversary Mimi Karlsson disagrees and recommends that lobstermen, especially those who keep lobster cars (pens) at their moorings, make themselves heard.
“In my opinion, the concentrated sea salts alone, even without the toxic metals from this desalination system, are enough to kill lobsters in the shallow, enclosed waters of Sakonnet Harbor.”
Additionally, she said copper and other toxic metals would also harm lobsters in the vicinity. “This toxic effluent will be directly sucked into the holds of passing lobster boats on their way to the town dock, if they use seawater circulators. This toxic effluent has the potential to kill all lobsters kept in live cars at moorings surrounding the marina, out 100 feet or more.”
People may submit comments on the permi to the address above no later than 4 p.m. on November 21.
To see the entire DEM notice, visit. http://www.dem.ri.gov/programs/benviron/water/permits/ripdes/pdfs/sakonnet.pdf