Date of Award


Degree Type

Major Paper

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


As people move toward the coasts in growing numbers, the coastal zone is faced with ever increasing development pressures. The Town of Westerly, Rhode Island is experiencing many of the problems associated with these pressures. In order to expand a motel in the Misquamicut section of Westerly, the current owner of the property has proposed to extend city sewer lines to this area at his own cost. Afterward the line would be turned over to the town. While extension of sewer lines may relieve some local septic system failure problems, it could also spur more rapid and extensive growth. Over-development may lead to irreparable damage to the sensitive barrier beach - salt pond environment. Furthermore, this area is susceptible to extensive storm damage, flooding, and high rates of erosion, which make it unsafe for development. Thus, sewer lines may not be the best wastewater management alternative. Rhode Island is currently considering legislation that would enable local communities to develop Wast Water Management districts. This alternative has been proven to be an effective method of managing septic system related pollution in other communities. In order to address septic system problems, the Town of Westerly should develop a Waste Water Management District for its salt pond watersheds. In this manner, wastewater problems could be mitigated without encouraging intensified development.