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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 seeks volunteers to protect drinking water quality
Cooperative Extension recruiting residents from
South Kingstown, Charlestown, Narragansett

KINGSTON, R.I. -- January 10, 2001 -- The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension is seeking volunteers in Washington County to help protect public drinking water supplies by participating in the Rhode Island Source Water Assessment Program.

"Since local residents have an intimate knowledge of the local community, and since everyone in the county relies on groundwater resources for their drinking water, we believe that the community should be involved," explained Alyson McCann, coordinator for Cooperative Extension's Home*A*Syst program, a volunteer-based residential pollution prevention program.

URI is working cooperatively with the Rhode Island Department of Health to complete local source water assessments as required by the Environmental Protection Agency. These assessments, which identify pollution threats to public drinking water supplies throughout the state, are under way in South Kingstown, Charlestown and Narragansett.

Cooperative Extension and the health department have developed a two-pronged approach to citizen involvement in the Source Water Assessment Program. Some volunteers will inventory potential sources of contamination to the water supplies, while others will provide input on the assessments by identifying local land use issues, selecting management options for analysis, and reviewing assessment results to identify and develop future planning needs.

Inventory volunteers will be trained by the Home*A*Syst program staff to read and update land use maps, as well as identify high-risk land use activities within the major wellhead protection areas during a two-hour training session on Monday, January 29 at 7 p.m. at the Cross Mills Public Library on Old Post Road in Charlestown. Volunteers will then have one month to complete their assigned wellhead protection area inventories.

Staff from Cooperative Extension's Municipal Training Program will lead assessment volunteers through three, two-hour meetings during a four to five month period to provide input on the assessments, which use computer-generated maps to systematically study natural and land use related factors that affect pollution risks to drinking water supplies. The first assessment work session is Tuesday, February 6 at 4 p.m., also at the Cross Mills Public Library in Charlestown.

Cooperative Extension and the health department will use the information provided by each group of volunteers to complete the source water assessments and assist communities in improving their drinking water protection efforts. "Rhode Island is unique in its efforts to involve local citizens in this program," noted McCann. "This is an opportunity for residents to serve their communities and protect the quality of their drinking water."

For more information or to volunteer for this project in South Kingstown, Charlestown or Narragansett, call Home*A*Syst Program Assistant Holly Burdett at (401) 874-5398. For more information about the Source Water Assessment Program contact Clay Commons, R.I. Department of Health, Office of Drinking Water Quality at (401) 222-7769.

For Information: Alyson McCann 874-5398 , Todd McLeish 874-7892

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Copyright 2001 University of Rhode Island. All rights reserved. Disclaimer.
Page last revised on Saturday, February 24, 2001 .