Sakonnet Point Club Repairs Pipe For Water Purifying System
After the Department of Environmental Management noticed a break in its outfall pipeline earlier this year, the club had to make the necessary repairs or face stiff fines.
Having safe drinking water at the Sakonnet Point Club has been a difficult operation the last few months, since the club was told by the state to stop releasing discharge from a damaged underwater pipeline. However, on Thursday the system was turned back on after they made the necessary repairs, according to the club’s general manager, Mike Sullivan.
On Wednesday, Sullivan showed buoys located off the rocky shore on the southeast portion of the property, where the pipeline was recently repaired by a subcontracted company approved by the Department of Environmental Management (DEM). A 6,000 gallon water tanker truck has been on site since late spring providing the club’s water for drinking, cooking, showers and toilets. Sullivan said the tanker usually lasts seven to eight days before needing a refill.
The repairs to the outfall pipeline, which had to be submitted and reviewed by DEM, “weren’t cheap,” said Sullivan. He said they have not received the bill yet. A video of the underwater repairs was provided to DEM by a scuba team.
There are no public water or sewer systems in Little Compton.
Sullivan said the club has two wells on site that give them brackish and salt water. In their basement is a multi-faceted desalination system.
“We probably have the purest water system in the state of Rhode Island,” Sullivan said. “As far as I know, it’s the only desalination system in Little Compton.”
The brackist water is purified through a process of reverse osmosis, by which the water goes through several filtration systems, two 2,000-gallon tanks and ultra-violet light tubes.
Some remaining salt water is sent back into the ocean through the pipeline, which Sullivan described as a 12 feet long, three feet wide and three feet tall stainless steel pipe that's anchored down. It has multiple holes at the end that serve as a diffuser, resembling a setting of a showerhead or garden hose.
According to DEM Sanitary Engineer Brian LaFaille, the break in the pipeline was first noticed in April during a routine inspection. A letter was sent to the club to take charge of the repairs and complete them in a certain number of days, or else face stiff fines.
During the reverse osmosis process, LaFaille said a fluid, or solution, is needed to purify the water. It’s considered a waste product that the system needs to discharge.
“We don’t want it to go into [a] septic [system],” he said in a phone interview last week. “It could affect that, so it goes into a discharge line into the harbor.”
One of the elements DEM monitors during discharge is copper, and LaFaille said too much discharge of a particular substance could violate water quality criteria and affect the local ecology.
The club must be permitted to task the monitoring of their discharge and how often they discharge into the Sakonnet River.
LaFaille said the club’s permit for discharge was three years old before the recent inspection, and the stainless steel pipeline had deteriorated in some parts, given the conditions of the salt water.
“It turns out their treatment system has a concentration of copper in the discharge,” he said. “We based the permit around that. After a recent look, their copper discharge is significantly less for the new design.”
LaFaille noted he did not think the level of copper discharge amounted to a violation.