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Home > Programs > Bureau of Policy and Administration > Sustainable Watersheds > Conservation Development

Scituate Watershed Zoning Project Title Graphic

image of autumn foliage and water at Scituate ReservoirIn December 1990 the Rhode Island State Planning Council adopted State Guide Plan Element 125, the Scituate Reservoir Watershed Management Plan. (available in paper copy). This plan concluded that the primary issues affecting the Scituate Reservoir watershed, which supplies water to over 50 percent of Rhode Island's population, are the rapid growth and changing land use patterns. The rural watershed communities are on the fringe of the urban development that has been emanating from the Providence metropolitan area.

A key recommendation of the Scituate Reservoir Watershed Management Plan is for the watershed communities to accommodate future development by using innovative techniques to prevent subsequent water quality contamination.


The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) funded the Scituate Reservoir Watershed Zoning project with funds from the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Nonpoint Source Pollution Program to assist the watershed towns of Scituate, Foster, and Glocester in developing innovative land use ordinances and a rural development guidebook which will preserve their rural environments and prevent ground and surface water pollution within and outside of the Scituate Reservoir watershed, in support of the overall and specific goals of the Scituate Reservoir Watershed Management Plan.

picture of dam (1980)The study assisted the three towns in developing new and innovative techniques which can be incorporated into their zoning, subdivision and other complementary development regulations. Although the recommendations have had the benefit of legal scrutiny by the consulting team, all model regulations and ordinances should be reviewed by each town solicitor prior to adoption as part of a town's zoning, subdivision or other development-related regulations.

Rural Design Manual (available in paper copies)

To further assist the watershed communities, a rural design manual was prepared to provide more detail and show illustrative examples of what specific ordinances will accomplish. The manual is a means for town officials to articulate what they mean by preserving rural character. This manual was developed in conjunction with the Blue Ribbon Committee and with the land use objectives of all three communities in mind.

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