Sustainable Landscaping
healthy lawn care
rain gardens



Everyone living in North Kingstown depends entirely on groundwater for drinking water. About 94% of the Town’s residents are supplied drinking water by the North Kingstown Water Department, which owns and operates 10 public wells. The remaining residents rely on private wells.

The Glen Demonstration Site

North Kingstown lies over some of the most plentiful groundwater resources in the state. Known as sand and gravel aquifers or stratified drift aquifers, they consist of relatively deep, well-sorted layers of sand and gravel deposited by glacial meltwaters during the end of the last ice age over 10,000 years ago. The Town’s public wells pump groundwater from the Hunt-Annaquatucket-Pettaquamscutt aquifers.

In 1988, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) designated these aquifers part of a Sole Source Aquifer area, which means it provides 50% or more of the drinking water and there is no other feasible source of drinking water.

By definition, an aquifer is a water-bearing soil and rock formation beneath the earth’s surface that is capable of supplying water for human consumption. Throughout Rhode Island, public and most private wells pump groundwater from sand and gravel aquifers or bedrock aquifers (cracks and veins in the bedrock that are filled with water). Learn more about groundwater and wells.

North Kingstown’s future and way of life depend upon groundwater protection. Many of the same properties that make these sand and gravel aquifers so productive also make them the most susceptible to pollution from land use activities. Pollutants that are generated at the land surface can mix with rain and snowmelt and soak down into the groundwater very easily.

Pollutants that are generated beneath the land surface, such as leachate from septic systems, cesspools and leaking underground fuel tanks pose an even higher threat to groundwater. Pollutants can also travel over the land surface as runoff where they can be deposited to surface waters and Narragansett Bay. These are all types of non-point source pollution, or pollution that is generated over a widespread, diffuse area of the landscape.

Groundwater and surface water are connected. Most of the large surface water bodies in North Kingstown receive a slow, steady supply of groundwater. This groundwater discharge provides a certain level of base flow, which is why large streams and surface waters do not go completely dry when there is a lack of precipitation for an extended period. Belleville Pond, Secret Lake, Carr Pond, and the Hunt and Pottowamut Rivers are just a few examples of large surface water bodies that are connected to the groundwater resources that North Kingstown depends upon. Pollution of one water resource can result in the pollution of other connected water resources.

Groundwater recharge. Groundwater is recharged from the overlying land surfaces that are permeable. Rainwater and snowmelt cannot soak into paved areas, instead, much of the water from parking lots, roads, rooftops, and other paved areas travels as runoff where it ends up directly in surface water bodies. Maintaining groundwater supplies depends on having permeable, unpaved surfaces. Learn more about reducing runoff and increasing groundwater recharge.

What is the Town doing to protect our drinking water resources?

Town of North Kingstown Demonstration Rain Garden

North Kingstown currently has high quality drinking water. The Town’s public water supply meets all federal and state standards and the annual consumer confidence report provides a summary of water quality information. The Town also has programs in place to protect its valuable drinking water resources:

  • Wastewater Management District Ordinance -- requires that property owners maintain their septic systems or cesspools.
  • Groundwater Protection Plan – has designated Groundwater Protection Zones and an active Groundwater Committee.
  • Utilities Ordinance – regulates sprinkler irrigation on lawns and landscapes.

For more information contact the North Kingstown Department of Water Supply at (401) 294-3331.

You can help your community continue to thrive by protecting your drinking water resources! In addition to the Town-sponsored programs, you can protect surrounding water resources by following the healthy landscaping practices.

A Few Words About Residential Water Use
Home lawn and garden watering can account for a 40% - 50% increase in residential water use during the summer months. Summer is most often the time when we receive the least amount of rainfall and groundwater recharge. Yet water withdrawals are at their highest, especially in a coastal community like North Kingstown that attracts many seasonal visitors. During times of drought, water supply can become a critical issue.

Think of this! Lawns need about one inch of water each week to remain actively growing in the summer. One inch of water over a 10,000 sq. ft. lawn (100' by 100') is equal to over 6,000 gallons. For this same amount of water, you could: Supply nearly 100,000 eight-ounce glasses of water; or do about 125 loads of laundry; or take up to 250 showers

Davisville Demonstration Site

  • During critical drought periods, consider the benefits of allowing lawns to go naturally dormant, or planting grasses and plants that are native and/or drought tolerant. Learn more about healthy lawn care.
  • Conserve water through the use of rain barrels, cisterns or other water collection and recycling techniques.
  • Water wisely: do not apply more water than the plants can use at any one time. Measure weekly rainfall and irrigate only the amount needed to make up the difference. One long, slow watering event each week is best. Water in the early morning hours when evaporation due to wind and sun are lowest. Wet leaves at night can increase risk of disease.
  • Consider watering beds and vegetable gardens with low pressure, low volume options such as soaker hose and/or drip irrigation. This places the water closer to the root zone and reduces risk of evaporation losses.