Date of Award

1997

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Community Planning (MCP)

Department

Community Planning and Area Development

First Advisor

Rolf Pendall

Abstract

The 1986 amendments to the Federal Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) of 1974 (42 USC 300f et seq.) placed additional requirements on states and municipalities to protect water supplies in a new way: The amendments mandate states to adopt wellhead protection programs. The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) is carrying out these requirements and, following federal guidelines, has adopted a program entailing requirements for most the 39 Rhode Island communities. Entitled the Rhode Island Wellhead Protection Program, DEM identified steps that State level departments, local water suppliers, and municipalities must follow to ensure continued potability of the state's drinking water supplies. To comply with state regulations, the Town of South Kingstown, with seventeen wellhead protection areas, must inventory threats to wells and develop a management plan to prevent future contamination of supplies.

Even before amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act and the mandated wellhead program, South Kingstown had initiated efforts to protect water supplies. Large-lot residential zones (two and five acre minimum lot size) were established in regions of town overlying groundwater aquifers to hinder high density residential development. The Groundwater Protection Overlay District (GPOD) was established in 1991 to regulate uses within the town's three groundwater aquifers, from which 50 percent of drinking water supplies are obtained. Central to the legislation are uses prohibited from the overlay zones, and site design standards for uses which could potentially affect groundwater supplies (Town of South Kingstown Zoning Ordinance, Sections 2021 and 2030).

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