KINGSTON, R.I. -- March 13, 2001 -- The University of Rhode Island Cooperative Extension is seeking volunteers to help assess pollution threats to public drinking water supplies. URIs Cooperative Extension is working cooperatively with the Rhode Island Department of Health to implement the Source Water Assessment (SWA) Program as required by the federal Environmental Protection Agency. The program is about to begin in the towns of North Kingstown, Jamestown, Exeter, as well as Warwick, West Warwick, Coventry, West Greenwich, and East Greenwich.
"This program provides a unique opportunity to involve local citizen participation," noted Alyson McCann, coordinator for URI Cooperative Extensions Home*A*Syst program, a volunteer-based residential pollution prevention program. "Since local residents know the local community best and have the most at stake in protecting local water supplies, we believe it appropriate for the community to be involved in this program."
URI and the health department have developed a two-pronged approach to citizen involvement in the 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 designated water supply protection areas during a two-hour training session on Monday, April 2 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Rocky Hill Grange on Route 2 in East Greenwich. Volunteers will then have one month to complete the assigned land use inventory.
Assessment Volunteers will be taught by URIs Cooperative Extension Municipal Training Program staff who will lead the volunteers through three, two-hour meetings over the course of a four to five month period to provide input on the assessments. The assessments use computer-generated maps to systematically study natural and land use factors that affect pollution risks to drinking water supplies. The first assessment work session is Wednesday, April 11 from 4 to 6 p.m. at the North Kingstown Free Library on Boone Street in North Kingstown.
URIs 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 continuing their drinking water protection efforts. "This is an opportunity for residents to serve their community and actively contribute to the protection of their local drinking water," explained McCann.
For more information or to volunteer for this project, call Holly Burdett, URI Cooperative Extension Home*A*Syst Program assistant at (401) 874-5398.
For more information about the Source Water Assessment Program contact Clay Commons, SWA Program Coordinator, R.I . Dept. of Health, Office of Drinking Water Quality at (401) 222-7769.
For Information: Alyson McCann, 874-5398, Jan Sawyer, 874-2116