URI student monitors impact of land development on
Wood and Pawcatuck Rivers
KINGSTON, R.I. -- September 22, 2000 -- Port Republic, N.J., resident
Meghan Hooper, a junior at the University of Rhode Island, spent her summer
testing the water quality of eighteen different sites along the Wood and
Pawcatuck Rivers, which span over 300 miles along southern Rhode Island
and into southeastern Connecticut.
"My main objective was to conduct discharge measurements assessing
the water levels that support the marine and plant life along the river,"
While conducting her examinations of the watershed, Hooper learned about
the many threats to the river that have substantial impact on the ecosystem.
Hooper attributed a main threat to land development, especially building
construction and maintenance of golf courses.
"Houses built near the river deplete valuable land, while golf courses
drain water from the watersheds." The drained water is then consumed
through the maintenance of golf course greens. "This process depletes
essential oxygen levels for the surrounding soils and plant life,"
Hooper said. The result: a tremendous impact on the marine, and more importantly,
the plant life along the river.
Soils are a particular concern to Hooper, since she plans on specializing
in the maintenance of soils when she graduates in May of 2002. "Soils
are an important part of the ecosystem that have tremendous environmental
implications," Hooper said.
Working with Denise Burgess, a director of the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed
Association, Hooper discovered all the "little things" that make
up the job, and enjoyed the opportunity to apply knowledge acquired in the
classroom. "Burgess was both extremely informative and easy to work
with," Hooper said.
Hooper's research was funded by the URI Coastal Fellowship Program; a
unique program designed to involve undergraduate students in addressing
current environmental problems. Sponsored by the URI Cooperative Extension
and now in its fifth year, the Coastal Fellowship Program teams students
with URI faculty, research staff and graduate students to help undergraduates
to gain skills that will ensure their future success.
For Information: Todd McLeish 401-874-7892, Keith Marshall