Date of Award

1970

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Community Planning

Department

Community Planning

First Advisor

Arthur D. Jeffery

Abstract

This study was concerned with the economics of supplying an area with water suitable for human consumption. The area chosen for study was the Upper Pawcatuck River Basin in Rhode Island, which has the largest ground water reservoirs in the state. Since the people within and adjacent to the Basin depend exclusively on water from these ground water reservoirs, this study investigated a means of preserving the quality of the ground water so that other methods of supplying water, which might be more costly, would not have to be developed. These other methods would be necessary if the ground water were allowed to become polluted.

The hypothesis tested in this study was that the costs involved in developing a regional sewage treatment and disposal system, together with a large scale municipal well development, are less than the development costs or an alternative means of supplying water for human consumption. The alternative means would be a surface impounding reservoir that would be necessary if the ground water were permitted to be polluted by sewage originating from private sewage disposal facilities.

In order to estimate the present degree or ground water pollution in the Basin, data which gave the results of water quality tests performed on water from wells in the Basin were obtained from the Rhode Island Department of Health. It was found that although a serious widespread ground water pollution problem does not exist at the present time, the potential for areawide pollution problems in the future is present. A means of eliminating this potential was proposed to be the development of a regional sewage treatment and disposal system to eliminate the necessity of private sewage disposal systems (septic tanks and cesspools).

In order to test the hypothesis, cost data were obtained from various sources in order to estimate the development costs of a regional sewage treatment and disposal system, a municipal ground water development, and a surface impounding reservoir. It was found that the development costs of a municipal ground water development together with a regional sewage treatment and disposal system were less than the development costs of a surface impounding reservoir that would yield approximately the same amount of water.

Due to economic benefits and the effect that the provision of water supply and sewage disposal facilities has on land development and use, it was recommended that planning for these facilities should be done on a comprehensive basis that considers water supply and sewage disposal as a single function. The planner's role in the formulation of water and sewer plans should be that of an active participant and not merely an advisor to the engineer.

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