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News Release
RI Department of Environmental Management
235 Promenade St., Providence, RI 02908
(401) 222-2771 TDD/(401) 222-4462

NOTE TO EDITORS: SEE LOCAL INTEREST

For Release:

November 27, 2000

Contact:

Sally Spadaro 222-4700 ext. 2426
Stephanie Powell 222-4700 ext. 4418

DEM AWARDS $31,000 TO PROTECT PUBLIC WELL WATER DRINKING SUPPLIES

PROVIDENCE – The Department of Environmental Management has announced the award of $31,000 through the state’s Wellhead Protection Program to two towns and one water supplier for groundwater protection projects in areas served by public drinking water wells. This marks the second time in two years DEM has made funds directly available to communities and suppliers for wellhead protection. The grants were awarded on a competitive basis from federal Clean Water Act funds received through the US Environmental Protection Agency.

"I am pleased that, in partnership with the federal Environmental Protection Agency, we have been able to offer these grants," said DEM Director Jan Reitsma. "Two-thirds of Rhode Island communities rely in whole or in significant part on groundwater for their drinking water supplies. Protecting that resource is a top priority for DEM, the affected communities, water suppliers, and the state Department of Health. We will continue to work cooperatively to improve wellhead protection within the state’s watersheds."

"Protecting drinking water supplies is critically important to us all," said Dr. Patricia A. Nolan, Director of the RI Department of Health (HEALTH). "We continuously monitor public water to evaluate hazards in cooperation with DEM. Assessments by HEALTH's Office of Drinking Water Quality also show that public water systems need sufficient resources to operate safely. Programs like the Wellhead Protection Program protect water at its source, and are the best way to assure safe drinking water for every Rhode Islander."

DEM awarded grants for the following projects:

  • Town of Charlestown: $6,000 for conversion of the town's zoning district map, which includes an aquifer protection overlay district, into a digital data layer, enabling the town to prepare maps of the protection district for use in land use decision-making and for public education.
  • Town of Glocester: $17,000 for development and adoption of a groundwater protection overlay district ordinance and site plan review process.
  • Kent County Water Authority: $8,000 for purchase and installation of security fencing and heavy-duty gates at its wellfields.

The state’s Wellhead Protection Program, one of the first in the nation to receive EPA approval, was developed by DEM in 1990 to prevent contamination of groundwater resources supplying public wells.

There are three steps to the program: 1) delineation by DEM of the state's 671 wellhead protection areas (those lands contributing groundwater to public wells); 2) inventorying known and potential sources of groundwater contamination within the wellhead protection areas by each municipality and major water supplier; and 3) development and implementation of a wellhead protection plan by municipalities and major water suppliers.

The delineations are completed; and 82 percent of the inventories have been completed and 52 percent of the water supply systems in the state that serve year-round residents are addressed by a wellhead protection plan. As part of DEM’s on-going technical assistance efforts, DEM staff are available meet with municipal or supplier staff who are interested in developing or implementing strategies for groundwater protection. For more information, contact Ernest Panciera at 222-4700 ext. 7306.


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