About The Program

In 1972 Congress passed the Clean Water Act.  Part of the Clean Water Act requires the Narragansett Bay Commission (NBC) to have a Pretreatment Program to control the release heavy metals, cyanide, and other toxic pollutants into the sewer system.   The NBC Pretreatment Program permits, monitors and regulates a variety of industries in order to protect NBC treatment facilities and Narragansett Bay from the discharge of harmful pollutants.  The NBC Pretreatment Program is important because wastewater treatment facilities (WWTF) use biological organisms to treat sanitary sewage and are not designed to remove heavy metals, cyanide and other toxic pollutants from wastewater.  Discharging certain substances into the sewer system can have negative effects such as:

• interfere with the operation of the WWTF by upsetting the biological process and killing the microorganisms needed for proper treatment

• jeopardize the health and safety of the public and NBC personnel

• clog sewer lines

• contaminates the treatment plant biosolids, or sludge, prohibiting its reuse

• being extremely dangerous if dumped in high concentrations

• mix with other chemicals to form toxic gases
Wet Weather Clarifier at Bucklin Point
Fuel oil spill stains on Wet Weather Clarifier
at Bucklin Point


To date, this program has had a major positive impact on the quality of wastewater treatment and discharges from the Field's Point and Bucklin Point WWTFs and has dramatically reduced the amount of metals and toxics being dumped into the sewer system and ultimately into Narragansett Bay.  Since the NBC took control of the Field’s Point and Bucklin Point facilities, the metals and cyanide loadings to both plants have significantly decreased.  Because of these great metals and cyanide reductions, the Providence and Seekonk Rivers have been removed from the EPA 303(d) list of impaired waters for toxic pollutants.

 Electroplating tanks
Tanks in an Electroplating facility labeled with
Prohibited Discharge stickers
Pretreatment Excellence award


The NBC Pretreatment Program has been recognized twice by the U.S. EPA as being the "Best Pretreatment Program in the Nation", receiving these awards in 1990 and 1998. In addition to the two national awards, the NBC Pretreatment Program received the 2009 EPA Region 1 Excellence Award.

2009 EPA Region I Excellence