Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Marine Affairs


This study documents the threat that uncontrolled "urban" stormwater runoff poses to surface water quality and the inadequacy of existing regulations governing land use development in preventing further water quality degradation resulting from "urban" runoff. The study applies recent research findings from the Nationwide Urban Runoff Program and the experience of other state regulatory programs in evaluating management alternatives and proposing a strategy for Rhode Island. The documented impacts of "urban" stormwater runoff on water quality, including excesses in criteria for copper, lead, and coliform, and eutrophication, support the need for stormwater quality management. This need is made more evident by a review of existing regulations. Local authority to enact stormwater quality requirements is limited as, the legal basis under the zoning ordinance is uncertain and the subdivision ordinance, while providing adequate legal authority, applies to subdivisions, only. At the state level, no comprehensive policy or guidelines have been adopted under the Freshwater Wetlands (FWW) regulations. The Coastal Resources Management Council (CRMC) has adopted stormwater quality requirements which apply to only certain areas within their jurisdiction. At present, there are no federal regulations governing stormwater runoff. A comprehensive and consistent approach to stormwater quality management requires adoption of uniform applicability and designing criteria, and consistent performance standards. Of the three management alternatives evaluated in this study, the approach entailing the establishment of stormwater quality management requirements as mandatory provisions of the FWW and CRMC programs, as complements to the federally mandated National Pollution Discharge Elimination System program requirements is preferred.