At the last town council meeting the water department reported the results of a risk and resilience assessment required by America’s Water Infrastructure Act of 2018 completed by the MRB Group, of Rochester, NY, an independent consultant.
Given the fact that water scarcity is a national and global concern, I thought the results of this report would have generated more public interest. Unfortunately, however very few citizens attended the council meeting, and no one commented about the report, or about water concerns generally.
Regardless, given the fact that, according to the United Nations, “water use has been growing globally at more than twice the rate of population increase in the last century, and an increasing number of regions are reaching the limit at which water services can be sustainably [be] delivered” I thought the town’s stewardship of this essential natural resource should be reported to the citizens of our community at large.
North Kingstown is one of the few municipalities in the state and one (1) of only two (2) municipal water departments in Washington County. We own and operate eleven (11) wells of water drawn from the Hunt-Annaquatucket-Pettaquamscutt aquifer system. Due to the fact that our town does not need all of these wells operational to meet its current water needs, seven (7) of these wells are now operational.
These wells provide our community with its daily usage of 2.42 million gallons of water per day. However, they have the capacity to produce more than seven (7) million gallons of water per day. The four (4) additional wells not in service have additional capacity if needed. Accordingly, regardless of global trends our community has access to more than enough potable drinking water for the foreseeable future. So much so that North Kingstown is the emergency water supplier to Jamestown if that community needs it.
Because we are one of the few remaining municipally owned water departments we have several important advantages: 1) we have in-house control over testing and monitoring. Accordingly, we can test more frequently and regularly monitor to ensure that our town’s water is safe and complies with federal and state laws and regulations; and 2) because everything is done in-house not only do we have more control but we also have some of the very lowest water usage rates in the state.
Accordingly, I can report to the citizens of North Kingstown that not only do we have more than enough water, but that there are in-house systems in place to ensure that it is safe, potable drinking water. And all of this at the lowest possible cost.
It is true that our community experiences water supply shortfalls during maximum summer water demand conditions. That is because we do not have adequate pumping infrastructure capacity to consistently meet peak demand. Consequently, in 2007 the town implemented the following conservation policies: it restricted irrigation of lawns and landscaping during summer peak periods; banned installation of new inground irrigation systems in developments that access town water; and, instituted a 4th rate tier for excessive water users to further encourage conservation.
These policies now represent a 31% reduction in the maximum daily usage total. Since water is such a precious international resource, the citizens of our community could further conserve and ensure our water independence by being mindful of outdoor use, particularly lawn watering, including thinking about the effort, energy, and resources expended to make certain our water is available before you spray it on your lawn.
While we as a community do our part in conserving, the town and water department will continue to make water infrastructure improvements to ensure your continued prompt access to safe, reliable, potable drinking water.
Famed geomorphologist and hydrologist Luna Leopold said: “Water is the most critical resource issue of our lifetime and our children’s lifetime. The health of our waters is the principal measure of how we live on the land.”
Previous councils and our existing town municipal employees in the water department have clearly demonstrated a superb stewardship of this “most critical resource.” I write to assure our community that this council will do our part to continue this excellent track record by providing the resources and oversight needed to ensure that our town continues to have access to safe, reliable, potable water for the benefit of this and future generations.
If you have any questions about the independent analysis conducted by the MRB Group please contact Mr. Timothy Wales, P.E. at Tim.Wales@mrbgroup.com. If you have additional questions about our town’s water contact Mr. Tim Cranston at firstname.lastname@example.org. He is the head of our municipal water department.
Gregory A. Mancini