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No. We have also seen these comments printed repeatedly in the media with no supporting science or facts offered to confirm this allegation.
Interestingly, there has been no effort by those individuals making these claims to discuss their concerns with the Groundwater Committee, nor has there been any formal request to change the regulated uses in the Groundwater Overlay Zoning.
The Water Department and Planning Department staffs do agree that the ordinance and the mapping need to be revised to make it easier to interpret and to incorporate the latest science and technology.
North Kingstown’s Groundwater Overlay Zoning establishes two overlay zones. GW1 includes the Wellhead Protection Areas, which are the land areas that are within the zones of contribution or the areas where the groundwater is being pulled toward the pumping wells. In essence, this is the water that we may drink at some point in time in the future. These are the most critical areas for protecting our drinking water and communities and water suppliers are required to develop programs for source water and wellhead protection.
The GW2 designation includes the Groundwater Recharge Areas as mapped by the US Geological Survey (with slight modifications to be as protective as possible). These are the watershed boundaries of the Hunt, Annaquatucket and Pettaquamscutt (HAP) River basins.
For further detail, view the Groundwater Overlay Zoning page.
In 2007, the text of the Groundwater Overlay Zoning Ordinance was amended to change lots located in the 1,750 foot radius of transient non-community public wells that had access to public water supply from GW1 to GW2. At that time the groundwater map was not part of the zoning ordinance. The change was consistent with the recommendations of the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management.
The site plan review requirements and other best available control technology requirements, that are included in the ordinance and apply to both GW1 and GW2 zones, result in no change to the level of protection provided to the wells in the area.
No. The zoning amendment applies to any lots that are located within the Wellhead Protection Area of a transient non-community well that would be able to hook up to public water.
The Water and Planning Departments acknowledge that is a fair question and something that we need to address.
The map has not been modified since 1998 and we agree that the map should be carefully reviewed to ensure that it accurately reflects the overlay zoning language.
In the past the Town has not had access to geographic information system capabilities (GIS) necessary to create and more importantly, continually update, a map such as this. Recently North Kingstown has upgraded its GIS capabilities to an extent that we now can produce and maintain such a map and we will work toward that goal.
This answer is easy; we do not wish to put any areas involved in our drinking water at risk. The Water Department’s job is to provide safe drinking water. State and federal laws require communities and water suppliers to protect their source water, which for North Kingstown is our groundwater.
Site plan review requirements and other best available control technology requirements, that are included in North Kingstown’s Groundwater Overlay Zoning Ordinance, apply to both GW1 and GW2 zones, and the differences in the protection requirements are minimal.
It really doesn’t, Allie's can continue to use their bedrock supply well as they always have. No realistic increase in risk to that water supply well has occurred with the changes. The only practical difference is that now, should the owners of Allies Donuts ever wish to, they do have the ability to connect to a public water supply.
The truth is that numerous recent changes to the ordinances that govern our water supply have been successful in reducing the stress to our water supply:
These changes have all made a difference and we, as a community, are using less water during the peak summer period when supply can truly get stressed. Peak water demand is significantly lower than the 2005 peak, but residential water demand still exceeds the 65 gallons per capita, per day goal set in the Rhode Island Water Use Efficiency Act.
Additionally, changes made recently to the Town’s identified “Water Service Area”, which corresponds to locations where new water mains may be allowed, has been able to help us rein in uncontrolled growth that our water distribution system could not support. This, of course, is not to say that we should now “rest on our laurels”. The Water Department and the community need to continue our efforts and diligently act as good stewards for this, our most critical resource.