The Department of Environmental Management (DEM) Office of Water Resources implements a variety of programs aimed at protecting and restoring the state's surface waters, groundwaters and wetlands. A challenge in managing water resources is ensuring adequate quantities during dry conditions and still support desired uses, such as drinking water, habitat, irrigation and recreation.
The Rhode Island Water Resources Board is a state agency that supports the proper development, protection, conservation and use of the state's water resources. In 1999, the RI General Assembly granted the agency's sole authority to devise a fair and equitable allocation of water resources among users and uses to ensure that long range considerations of water supply prevail over short term considerations. The board is responsible for prioritizing water withdrawals and managing the water system supply management plans. Some requests for withdrawal may need additional approval from the Water Resources Board and/or the Department of Health.
The Department of Environmental Management authorizes withdrawals under the authority of the Clean Water Act and the Freshwater Wetlands Act. Certain activities proposed in or near State waters require prior approval from the RIDEM Water Quality Certification (WQC) Program. This approval, or "Water Quality Certification," certifies that a proposed activity complies with the State's Water Quality Regulations. Applicants for flow alterations that fall under the jurisdiction of the Rhode Island Coastal Resources Management Council, including both coastal and freshwater wetlands in the vicinity of the coast, are required to apply for and receive Water Quality Certification directly from the Water Quality Certification Program prior to commencement of the project. This means that a project may require both a Water Quality Certification and a Coastal Resources Management Council Permit.
RI Water Pollution Control Act [RIGL 46-12-3(2)]
DEM Water Quality Regulations
DEM Water Quality Regulations (12/28/10)
RI Freshwater Wetlands Act [RIGL 2-1-21]
DEM Freshwater Wetlands Regulations
The Rhode Island Water Resources Board enabling legislation RIGL 46-15-9 and 46-15-18 Management of the withdrawal and use of the waters of the State.
Rhode Island Water Resources Board - Rules and Procedures for Water Supply System Management Planning.
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RIABF (Modified Aquatic Base Flow for RI)
Guidance for Groundwater Withdrawals
Draft Stream Depletion Methodology 2010