The Board of Purification of Waters was created per 1920 Public Law Chapter 1914 as part of “An Act to Prohibit and Regulate the Pollution of the Waters of the State”, Section 2. The board was authorized and directed to regulate or prohibit the pollution of the waters of the state in accordance with the provisions of the act. Pollution of the waters included pollution created by oil, domestic sewage, and manufacturing wastes. The board also held the power to investigate, hold hearings and issue subpoenas on any complaint regarding the pollution of waters. The board became a division of the Department of Public Health in 1935 (previously the State Board of Health created 1878) In 1939 the division became the Division of Sanitary Engineering. In 1963 a Division of Water Pollution Control was created from the Division of Sanitary Engineering. In 1978 this function was transferred to the Department of Natural Resources which became the Department of Environmental Management in 1979. The Division of Water Resources was created at this time.
Scope and Contents: The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management, Office of Water Resources records includes lantern slides, glass negatives, photographs of sanitation activities, wastewater treatment, early water pollution control and construction of sewage treatment facilities. Also includes the records (reports, speeches and radio addresses) of Walter J. Shea, Chief of the Division of Sanitary Engineering.