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Department of Communications/
News Bureau
22 Davis Hall, 10 Lippitt Road, Kingston, RI 0288
Phone: 401-874-2116 Fax: 401-874-7872

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," Hooper explained.

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 401-874-2116


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