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Conanicut Island Receives “Sole Source Aquifer” Designation

Release Date: 07/31/2008
Contact Information: David Deegan, (617) 918-1017

(Boston, Mass. – July 31, 2008) – The drinking water supply of Conanicut Island has been designated as a sole source aquifer. Conanicut Island is located off the coast of Rhode Island in Narragansett Bay and includes the municipality of Jamestown.

Sole Source Aquifer designations are made to protect drinking water supplies in areas with few or no alternative drinking water sources, and where any available alternative would be extremely expensive. The designation requires EPA to review any proposed projects that received federal funding to ensure they do not endanger the water source. Under the program, EPA typically reviews projects such as highway construction improvements and large wastewater treatment facilities.

When the designation formally takes effect later this summer with a notice being published in the Federal Register, Conanicut will be one of 16 New England locations to have a sole source aquifer designation. Other locations already designated in Rhode Island include: Pawcatuck River, Hunt-Annaquatucket-Pettaquamscutt and Block Island. A number of other island communities off New England’s coast also have sole source status, including Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

The aquifer under Conanicut Island is the principal source of drinking water for all island residents. Recharge of the water supply is primarily by infiltration of precipitation. No economically viable alternative sources exist since the Island is located in the Bay and is independent of mainland sources.

The community has already shown strong commitment to protecting the drinking water aquifer, and this federal designation will help strengthen existing efforts.

More information: Sole Source Aquifers in New England (epa.gov/region1/eco/drinkwater/pc_solesource_aquifer.html)

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