Saturday, August 10, 2013

Stillwater History, Part Two: The Head Race

The Head Race
(Part 2)

 This is a view of the head race from inside the building basement.   The play of light on the falling water obscures the view of the brick wall beyond the waterfall.  This brick wall contains additional clues as to the developmental history of the technology of early industrial water power.  The most obvious characteristic of this wall is a brick archway which provides passage below the existing iron turbine.   This archway can be made out in the below photo although obscured by the falling water and plant roots.  This archway is only three feet tall and nine feet wide and extends back under the location of the above ground iron turbine. 


                                                                    The Brick Arch

The arch is two bricks wide and forms the entrance to what appears to be a circular chamber with fallen wooden beams and a rounded shaft in the center.


                                                        The Interior Through the Brick Arch

 Additional investigation is clearly warranted, but if these first impressions are true, then there is a high probability that this later water wheel was an early horizontal turbine type that became popular later in the industrial revolution.  The turbine was favored over the waterwheel in situations where the head (difference in height between the pond water level and the tail race)  was greater than the practical diameter of the water wheel.  It wasn't until 1827 that the first prototype horizontal water wheel was first made by Foureyron, and these turbine type waterwheels were not common until the late 1830's - 1840's.  

Other circumstantial evidence indicating the possibility of a horizontal wheel at the mill can be observed in the following picture which was taken looking down at the iron turbine and head race area.

There is a circular depression below the iron turbine made visible by the ponding of water around the turbine. The dimensions of this "pond" are approximately those observed when trying to look through the brick wall archway.  Safety concerns prohibit the closer examination of the chamber at this time.


The iron turbine is believed to be the most recent technological hydro-power addition to the site.  This turbine represents the fourth head race configuration and is located above the older brick arch passage which is indicative of a earlier (third head race configuration - the horizontal turbine) technological advancement at the site.  It is also worth note that at some point following the use of brick for the construction of the  head race, the brick doorway [seen in the upper center of  the photograph] was filled in with concrete and concrete block – begging the question, “what is behind this wall?”.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Stillwater History, Part One: The Head Race

Let’s begin today with a narrative tour of the Stillwater Mill Site.  As recently as this summer, it has been cleared of dense brush, revealing to locals driving on Stillwater Road in Smithfield, two historic stone structures that accompany a dam.  This blog is a tour that will take our curious reader, perhaps having just recently seen these buildings for the first time, back to a time when the mill served the community, and helped shape the village of Stillwater.


Finding a time to set the story is difficult.  Throughout its development, there were several different technological adaptations to the mill, specialized modifications to the river’s stream flow, and natural environmental impacts that continue to reshape the mill; river; community, and its surroundings.

     We welcome you to take look at what we have found, presented here in this blog, and determine for yourself, the reader, whether our interpretation of the mill as a story "fits" into the historical context; any prior knowledge of the site similar to what we are describing can be mentioned.  If you would comment, please feel free to let us know your experiences with the mill at Stillwater in a historic context.

                                                                          (Part 1)

     We are starting the mill tour with the head race.  The term is used to describe the channel for bringing flowing water to the water wheel from a pond or stream.   After the water leaves the water wheel, it flows away through a channel called the tail race.  The old wooden water wheels that were used at the Stillwater mill are long gone, and the only obvious remaining hydro-power element is the boiler plate iron turbine that still has water flowing through it.  We believe that if the internal working mechanisms of this turbine were made of Brass, the turbine may still be functional. 

     We know that the dam was modified and enlarged over time, so it is logical that the head race was also changed over time to fit the new dam configuration.  What we discovered was a series of modifications to the head race that open windows to the character and ingenuity of the early Quaker settlers of Smithfield.  These discoveries also provide clues to the small evolutionary changes in technology that were the basis for the huge advances that made the Industrial Revolution.


     Our tour continues, by looking at one of the site's most outstanding features, the dual arches that form the north and south foundation walls of the mill.  The above photo is a view of the head race at the north side of building with the iron turbine in foreground.  Note the “basement” arch.  This arch, which allows water to flow through the structure, was carefully constructed of cut granite while the surrounding foundation and building walls are primarily made from field stone (with the exception of cut granite which was used to "coin" the buildings four corners).  Here we ask: why would people who believed that simplicity and functionality; where virtues go to the expense and effort to construct these interesting architectural elements?

     Our theory is that arched head race through basement provided an additional 10-12 feet of hydraulic head which would have translated into approximately 25% additional “Water Power” for the mill.                                                             

     Here we see a detail of the stonework used in head race arch.  Note use of granite blocks for the arch and the use of local field stone for wall.  Also note "drill" holes- these quarry marks can be useful in determining the age or date the stone was prepared.   Upon a close up examination of the notches used to split the stone,  it has a lack of uniformity in terms of:  drill holes; the tool marks used to make the holes; and the blocks of granite, all are suggestive of very early workmanship.   For the purposes it serves in this blog, we will call the fully open archway 'the original' or 'first head race configuration'.

     Our first suggestion may be that the head race was changed- evidence is found in support of this- in the above photo.  The overlap of the field stone wall in front of the granite arch indicates a high probability that this addition to the head race took place after the original mill construction.  The net effect of this "new" wall was: to reduce the width of the mill's basement opening arch configuration- from 13 feet (base of arch to base of arch) to 10 feet across (the second head race configuration).  This narrower head race was lined with field stone, and continues in a northerly direction for a distance of about 10 feet where it is interrupted by what appears to be an even newer wall- made of brick.  This new brick wall is the background for the new 'ground level' upon which the iron turbine sits.

      So we ask: why these changes?   At some point, technology changed between different construction styles: from that utilized an old-style water wheel, to a different- and probably more efficient- water wheel mechanism.   Additional structural modifications to the head race (now lined with a new style of brick wall)  indicate that there were further adaptations to the head race to accommodate even newer technologies (configuration 3).

      ... To be continued

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Watershed Approach

Introduction, A Watershed Approach:

The purpose of watershed planning and management is to restore, enhance, and protect our limited natural resources by means of preservation, conservation, and remediation. This is perhaps a long and difficult process, to monitor and enhance wetland conditions requires Army Corps of Engineers’ approval and supervision. EPA and RIDEM and the local municipalities need to be notified, and incorporated into the process. This approach includes stakeholder involvement and management actions supported by sound science and appropriate technology.

Watershed plans should address all the sources and causes of waterbody impairments and threats; that is, the plans should address not only the sources of the immediate water quality impairment but also any pollutants and sources of pollutants that need to be addressed to ensure the long-term health of the watershed.

EPA recognizes the difficulty in obtaining watershed-related information with precision and acknowledges that a balanced approach is needed to address this concern. On one hand, it is absolutely critical that watershed planners make a reasonable effort to identify significant pollutant sources, specify the management measures that will most effectively address those sources, and broadly estimate the expected load reductions that will result. Without this analytic framework to provide focus and direction, it is much less likely that projects implemented under the plan can efficiently and effectively address the nonpoint sources of water quality impairments.

On the other hand, EPA recognizes that even if reasonable steps are taken to obtain and analyze relevant data, the information available during the planning stage (within reasonable time and cost constraints) might be limited. Preliminary information and loading estimates might need to be updated over time, accompanied by midcourse corrections in the watershed plan and the activities it promotes. In many cases, several years of implementation might be needed for a project to achieve its goals. EPA fully intends that the watershed planning process described in this handbook be implemented in a dynamic and adaptive manner to ensure that implementation of the plan can proceed even though some of the information in the watershed plan is imperfect and might need to be modified over time as better information becomes available.

States are encouraged to develop statewide watershed planning frameworks that integrate and coordinate plans for large drainage areas. Plans for large basins should contain general or summarized quantitative analyses of current water quality problems (e.g., pollutant loads) and the load reductions or other benefits expected from the implementation of best management practices (BMPs). The level of detail for large-basin plans will not be as refined as those for smaller watersheds, but an overview of current pollutant loads and future load reductions expected from BMPs is helpful in providing some sense of the scope of the problem(s) in the basin and the level of effort needed to restore or protect water quality. The level of detail would be further refined for subbasins or watersheds, to provide more specific information for project work plans.

The watershed planning process works within this framework by using a series of cooperative, iterative steps to characterize existing conditions, identify and prioritize problems, define management objectives, develop protection or remediation strategies, and implement and adapt selected actions as necessary. The outcomes of this process are documented or referenced in a watershed plan. A watershed plan is a strategy that provides assessment and management information for a geographically defined watershed, including the analyses, actions, participants, and resources related to developing and implementing the plan. The development of watershed plans requires a certain level of technical expertise and the participation of a variety of people with diverse skills and knowledge.

EPA supports the implementation of holistic watershed plans because this approach usually provides the most technically sound and economically efficient means of addressing water quality problems and is strengthened through the involvement of stakeholders that might have broader concerns than solely attainment of water quality standards (e.g., water supply, aesthetics). A holistic approach addresses all the beneficial uses of a waterbody, the criteria needed to protect the use, and the strategies required to restore water quality or prevent degradation. This approach will help to expedite cooperative, integrated water resource planning and successful implementation of needed management, thereby facilitating the restoration of water quality. For example, watershed plans that incorporate a full range of other resource management activities, such as source water protection for drinking water, forest or rangeland management planning, agricultural resource management systems, and parkland or greenspace management will be better able to address the various challenges and opportunities related to water resource restoration or protection.

This manual’s purpose is to introduce to the town of Smithfield and the State of Rhode Island to Breakwater Preservation Conservancy’s proposed watershed management plan, explain the concepts and processes involved with implementing a watershed plan, and finally we ask the town of Smithfield adopt a watershed approach to their planning efforts.


Since the late 1980s, watershed organizations, tribes, and federal and state agencies have moved toward managing water quality through a watershed approach. A watershed approach is a flexible framework for managing water resource quality and quantity within specified drainage areas, or watersheds.

Using a watershed approach to restore impaired waterbodies is beneficial because it addresses the problems in a holistic manner and the stakeholders in the watershed are actively involved in selecting the management strategies that will be implemented to solve the problems. Nonpoint source pollution poses the greatest threat to water quality and is the most significant source of water quality impairment in the nation. Therefore, EPA is working with states, tribes, and watershed groups to realign its programs and strengthen support for watershed-based environmental protection programs. Such programs feature local stakeholders joining forces to develop and implement watershed plans that make sense for the conditions found in local communities.

Although each watershed plan emphasizes different issues and reflects unique goals and management strategies, some common features are included in every watershed planning process. The watershed planning process is iterative, holistic, geographically defined, integrated, and collaborative.

Each watershed management plan will address different issues and include unique goals and site-specific management strategies to achieve those goals. All plans should also include attainment of water quality standards for surface waters in the management area. Because water quality standards are the foundation of EPA’s water quality protection efforts, this handbook includes a brief description of what they are and how they’re used in watershed management programs.

The nine elements are provided below, listed in the order in which they appear in the guidelines. Although they are listed as a through i, they do not necessarily take place sequentially. For example, element d asks for a description of the technical and financial assistance that will be needed to implement the watershed plan, but this can be done only after you have addressed elements e and i.

EPA requires that these nine elements be addressed in watershed plans funded with incremental Clean Water Act section 319 funds and strongly recommends that they be included in all other watershed plans intended to address water quality impairments. In general, state water quality or natural resource agencies and EPA will review watershed plans that provide the basis for section 319-funded projects. Although there is no formal requirement for EPA to approve watershed plans, the plans must address the nine elements discussed below if they are developed in support of a section 319-funded project.

a. Identification of causes of impairment and pollutant sources or groups of similar sources that need to be controlled to achieve needed load reductions, and any other goals identified in the watershed plan. Sources that need to be controlled should be identified at the significant subcategory level along with estimates of the extent to which they are present in the watershed (e.g., X number of dairy cattle feedlots needing upgrading, including a rough estimate of the number of cattle per facility; Y acres of row crops needing improved nutrient management or sediment control; or Z linear miles of eroded streambank needing remediation).

b. An estimate of the load reductions expected from management measures.

c. A description of the nonpoint source management measures that will need to be implemented to achieve load reductions in paragraph 2, and a description of the critical areas in which those measures will be needed to implement this plan.

d. Estimate of the amounts of technical and financial assistance needed, associated costs, and/or the sources and authorities that will be relied upon to implement this plan.

e. An information and education component used to enhance public understanding of the project and encourage their early and continued participation in selecting, designing, and implementing the nonpoint source management measures that will be implemented.

f. Schedule for implementing the nonpoint source management measures identified in this plan that is reasonably expeditious.

g. A description of interim measurable milestones for determining whether nonpoint source management measures or other control actions are being implemented.

h. A set of criteria that can be used to determine whether loading reductions are being achieved over time and substantial progress is being made toward attaining water quality standards.

i. A monitoring component to evaluate the effectiveness of the implementation efforts over time, measured against the criteria established under item h immediately above.

Stakeholder Information

One of the key characteristics of the watershed planning process is that it is participatory. The Center for Watershed Protection conducted research that showed that implementation of a watershed plan has the greatest chance of success when stakeholders are brought into the process at the very beginning of the watershed planning effort.

We at Breakwater Preservation Conservancy share a common interest with you, our community stakeholders, in seeing the Stillwater site go to the best possible use. Our intentions are to see that the site is managed so as to fulfill a vision that the land surrounding Stillwater Pond is a key component of the local environment and is necessary to continuing critical roles and other environmental processes. In response to this and other concerns, we propose conducting a watershed plan for Stillwater. The first element of this plan is to develop a team.

Watershed planning can only be effective when the talents of many people are combined into a “core team” to take advantage of their diverse skills, professional disciplines, and experience. The team must also draw heavily from many different disciplines – local government planners, engineers, foresters, wetland scientists, hydrologists, geomorphologists, water quality experts, and educators to name just a few. The team is often physically located in many different places and plays different roles in the planning process – some may be local government staff, consultants, or watershed groups. The core team should meet several times when scoping the preparation of a local watershed plan to oversee plan development and implementation, define team roles and tracking, and determine how stakeholders and partners will be involved.

While watershed planning is not new, it has historically been conducted by a variety of local, state and private organizations over a range of scales and has featured an array of methods and techniques. The main intent of this document is to provide a common planning framework for the Stillwater site. We recognize that the Stillwater area/watershed is only a small portion of the larger Woonosquatuck watershed basin, however because it is smaller it is a more manageable site for this type of pilot program. We also believe that there is sufficient expertise available as well as outside sources of funding to make this program a low to no cost effort as a local community program.

Additionally, the purpose of this Stakeholder group is to:

• define the elements of an effective watershed plan

• provide guidance on how watershed planning meets federal funding requirements and address land use issues

• integrate regulatory drivers and programs such as Total Maximum Daily Loads (TMDL) with local watershed planning efforts. If a Total Maximum Daily Load (TMDL) implementation committee currently exists for the watershed, there may be an opportunity to consolidate resources and meetings.

• describe methods for completing an effective watershed plan within the proposed framework

Developing initial goals allows the core team to create a realistic scope for the watershed plan and focus planning dollars on the most critical data gaps and water quality priorities. This task represents the first iteration of the goal setting process. Goals are revised, updated and expanded as the core team becomes more familiar with stream and upland conditions and receives stakeholder input. The core team should use the data gathered from the previous tasks to view the boundaries of the watershed, tributary basin, 303(d) listings, TMDLs and supporting technical documentation and designated uses and get a general idea of the characteristics of the area. When combined with local expertise, the core team normally has enough background information to create initial watershed planning goals. Goals are general statements of purpose or intent that express what watershed planning will broadly accomplish. Initial goals should reflect the general character of the area (highly urbanized vs. agricultural inputs) and address pollutants of concern. 303(d) impairments should automatically become the focus of one or more goals. Other important considerations include conservation areas vulnerable to development and erosion and physical impacts (e.g., floodplain disconnection). Goals should not only reflect what needs fixing but what needs protecting as well.

The core team needs to make hard choices on the scope of the plan given limited and uncertain budget resources. As an example, the total budget for a full-blown watershed plan following all the principles and methods can easily exceed $100,000. Even when funding is spread out over several years, it is certainly a hefty and often unaffordable investment for many local governments. Therefore, most teams will really need to economize on the scope of work to get the maximum planning information for the least cost.

Watershed planning is driven by the goals of those that care for the watershed. Aligning the efforts and resources of stakeholders towards common goals is critical to the adoption and implementation of any watershed plan. Not all stakeholders are equal. In a literal sense, each has a different stake in the outcome of the plan, and each is expected to perform a different role in the local watershed planning effort. Each comes to the table with varying degrees of watershed awareness, concern and/or expertise. Stakeholders also have different preferences as to how, when and in what manner they want to be involved in the process. Stakeholders can generally be grouped into four broad categories that include the public, agencies, watershed partners, and potential funders. As a result, the outreach methods used to educate and inform stakeholders must be carefully calibrated to match their different levels of knowledge and understanding. For example, some stakeholders are professionals expected to be at the table because of their job duties, whereas others are “night-timers” who are donating their time and expertise. An effective core team will recognize the wide diversity in stakeholders, and structure its planning process to provide multiple options and opportunities for involvement.

Considering these issues, the core team should think through an overall strategy to involve stakeholders during the watershed planning process that focuses on the following factors:

• What stakeholder groups need to be involved in the watershed planning process?

• Which organization will take the lead to manage stakeholders?

• What are the most effective and affordable techniques to reach out to them?

• What roles and responsibilities will they be assigned?

The eight tools of watershed protection, summarized in Table 1, are a comprehensive approach to protecting or restoring aquatic resources in a watershed. The eight tools roughly correspond to the stages of the development cycle from initial land use planning, site design and construction, through home ownership. Each watershed protection tool represents a general category of local ordinances and programs and often corresponds to a specific ordinance (e.g., stormwater management or stream buffer ordinances). Within each tool is a range of potential options for improving watershed protection at the local level.

Table 1: The Eight Tools of Watershed Protection

Tool 1. Land Use Planning
The application of land use planning techniques and zoning regulations that are designed to maintain or limit future land use change/impervious cover, redirect development where appropriate, and protect sensitive areas.
Tool 2. Land Conservation
Programs or efforts to conserve undeveloped, sensitive areas or areas of particular historical or cultural value using techniques such as acquisition, easements and transfer of development rights.

Tool 3. Aquatic Buffers
The protection, restoration, creation, or reforestation of stream, wetland, lake, and shoreline buffers.

Tool 4. Better Site Design
Local ordinances and codes incorporate techniques to reduce impervious cover and/or redirect runoff onto pervious surfaces in the design of new development and redevelopment projects.

Tool 5. Erosion and Sediment Control
The use of erosion control, sediment control, and dewatering practices at all new development and redevelopment sites.

Tool 6. Stormwater Management
The incorporation of structural practices into new development, redevelopment, or the existing landscape to help mitigate the impacts of stormwater runoff on receiving waters.

Tool 7. Non-Stormwater Discharges
Locating, quantifying, and controlling non-stormwater pollutant sources in the watershed. Operation and maintenance practices that prevent or reduce pollutants entering the municipal or natural drainage system.

Tool 8. Watershed Stewardship
Stormwater and watershed education or outreach programs targeted towards fostering human behavior that prevents or reduces pollution over a range of land uses and activities.

Local governments will generally need to apply some form of all eight tools in every watershed to provide comprehensive watershed protection. A local watershed plan defines how and where the eight tools are specifically applied to meet unique water resource objectives. The core team should complete an Eight Tools Audit, which involves interviews with local staff, and a review of local regulations and code and ordinance language. The audit questions may be modified to fit the community needs, and not all questions need be answered. The audit questions are structured so that programs and regulations that are currently lacking become very apparent. Local watershed plan recommendations for regulatory and programmatic changes can be derived directly from the audit results. Table 2 presents some example recommendations made as part of a watershed plan and based on the results of the Eight Tools Audit.

Table 2: Potential Regulatory and Programmatic Change Recommendations
Watershed Protection Tool / • Potential Watershed Plan Recommendation

Tool 1. Land Use Planning
• Adopt overlay zoning to protect sensitive natural areas
• Establish a transfer of development rights (TDR) program

Tool 2. Land Conservation
• Actively pursue forest or wetland conservation

Tool 3. Aquatic Buffers
• Adopt local wetland buffer ordinance
• Require physical protection of buffer during construction

Tool 4. Better Site Design
• Adopt an open space design ordinance
• Reduce residential street widths to 22 feet
• Encourage site designers to minimize the number of stream and wetland
crossings and revise design standards to reduce impacts of crossings (e.g.,
road crossings should be perpendicular to stream)
• Review parking codes to see if based on real parking demand

Tool 5. Erosion and Sediment Control
• Hire part-time Erosion and Sediment Control (ESC) /stormwater inspector
• Adopt more stringent design standards for ESC practices

Tool 6. Stormwater Management
• Enhance stormwater criteria
• Allocate a portion of capital budget for implementation of priority stormwater retrofits and stream restoration projects

Tool 7. Non-Stormwater Discharges
• Develop an illicit discharge detection and elimination program
• Require certification of septic system inspectors

Tool 8. Watershed Stewardship
• Develop watershed education program
• Establish a volunteer monitoring program

The Goals of this Watershed Restoration Plan

This focus of this plan is to achieve multiple goals related to watershed management. The watersheds of Rhode Island could benefit from workable watershed planning. Each watershed is different and requires a different approach in order to address site specific problems and solutions. So, out of necessity we are going to address one watershed, the Woonasquatucket River Watershed system. The Woonasquatucket Watershed covers some acres beginning up in North Smithfield and ending under the Providence Place Mall where it meets the Providence River and Narragansett Bay. Along the way the waters of the Woonasquatucket River do not become cleaner, in fact these waters pick up some nasty chemical characteristics. This is not to say that a great deal of progress has not been made, but the process has much further to go. The current efforts at the Centerville Manor site is a major effort to remediate a significant source of water contamination in the river, but what or where should the next effort be made? It is our hope that a Watershed Management Plan might provide an answer to this question of where the best return for an investment in the environment might be made. To accomplish this the entire river system will require examination and evaluation – a huge job.

Negative impacts to water quality and aquatic habitat in the Woonasquatucket River's, streams, lakes, and wetlands have occurred over time from the cumulative effects of multiple pollution sources. The reversal of those impacts will rely on the implementation of a variety of solutions or projects coordinated among many groups and governments. Toward this effort, the proposed plan works toward the following specific goals:
Identifying the watershed's nonpoint source water quality problems and ways to address those problems through wetland, stream and riparian buffer restoration and protection.
Presenting a overview of current and ongoing restoration and conservation activities in the basin to promote a more comprehensive approach to restoration.
Increasing the ecological effectiveness of restoration efforts by informing various agencies, mitigation banks and other individuals involved in compensatory mitigation where restoration projects will yield the greatest environmental benefits.
Communicating the plan priorities to other funding programs such as the Clean Water Management Trust Fund and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and grant applicants.
Promoting cooperative efforts with other groups interested in improving water quality, wildlife habitat, fisheries, flood storage and other wetland functions.
Supporting the effective use of State and Federal
resources by establishing a systematic way to assign resources to those projects that will yield the greatest environmental benefit.
Supplying information to the public and other agencies and organizations for natural resource management, restoration and preservation planning.
Assisting landowners in assessing the ecological value of their land for the purposes of wetlands and stream restoration and protection.

Watershed restoration planning would be a Rhode Island non-regulatory approach to identifying watersheds where wetland and stream restoration projects can help to address nonpoint source water quality problems. The watershed planning effort begins with Watershed evaluation and advances to Restoration Planning.
Local Watershed Plans identify factors contributing to water quality degradation within a watershed and provide strategies to address nonpoint sources of pollution. One component of a plan is the identification of sites for wetland, stream and streamside buffer restoration. However, this is just one piece of the water quality puzzle. In most watersheds, wetland, stream and streamside buffer restoration alone will not be sufficient to improve water quality. Other nonpoint sources of pollution, such as stormwater runoff and failing septic systems, must be located and addressed through other types of water quality improvement projects. Accordingly, the solutions identified in these plans include not only wetland, stream and streamside buffer restoration projects, but a comprehensive package of initiatives needed to successfully improve and protect water quality in the long term.

Local Watershed Plans include three key components:
An inventory of the specific causes of water quality degradation identified through a detailed watershed assessment
A plan which links water quality problems with specific restoration strategies that are supported by a local stakeholder group and/or community
A strategy for implementing restoration projects and other water quality initiatives identified in the plan.
The first steps:
The challenge of watershed restoration is determining the sources and causes of water quality degradation and deciding what management options should be applied to solve the problem.
The first step in the overall process will be to gather specific information about the river in each (micro) community so that the information is presented in the overall (macro) Watershed Restoration Plan. Restoration plans for each micro segment of the river will be assembled to provide a continuous Woonasquatucket long plan:
A narrative overview of the river basin including general information on existing water quality problems.
Restoration goals that describe how stream, wetland and riparian buffer restoration efforts could address the specific water quality problems in each basin.
Maps showing the location of watersheds with greatest need and potential for wetland and stream restoration.
Maps of individual watershed segments (micro) that have been targeted for restoration efforts.
Water quality maps showing use support ratings at the (micro) level.
Data on permitted wetlands and stream impacts in the river basin.
A description of priority watershed segments and a discussion of the restoration need and opportunity in these segments of the larger watershed.

What should constitute a watershed segment?
We propose that a segment should be defined by the local community. The local community (Village) will have a strong sense of identity and will naturally define it's own limits and will
naturally extend those bounds as it continues to identify surrounding areas that impact it.

A Pilot Watershed Management Plan
We are proposing to initiate this program with a Pilot Watershed Management Plan for the Stillwater and Capron Pond segment of the Woonasquatucket River. This segment has been selected for several reasons:

  1. There is an existing group of local residences (stakeholders) who have expressed a strong interest in participating in the discussions and decision making that involves the Stillwater Village, it's two ponds, the river and the environmental quality of the community.
  2. A large portion of the land fronting on the ponds and river belongs to one entity that is willing to allow access and will permit restoration  of the habitat.
  3. This segment of the watershed contains a diversity of land use activities with no single use dominating.
  4. The adjacent segments of the watershed are also easily identified, and a pool of local  stakeholders is believed to exist for both the Georgiaville Pond segment to the south, and the Stump Pond segment to the north.  This would provide continuity for an expanding pilot plan.


In order to comply with the requirements of the Clean Water Act, contractors performing construction projects in the State of Rhode Island are required to develop a good Stormwater Pollution Prevention Plan (SWPPP). These State requirements do not differ significantly from those of the US EPA. In the most general terms, the requirements are most effective when they are site specific, but are based on four overall basic steps for developing and implementing an effective SWPPP. These four steps are: 1) Site Assessment and Planning; 1) Selecting erosion and sediment control (BMPs); 3) Selecting good housekeeping Bmps; 4) Inspection, maintenance and recordkeeping.

Most SWPPPs are written documents that describe the pollution prevention practices and activities that will be implemented on the site. It includes descriptions of the site and of each major phase of the planned activity, the roles and responsibilities of contractors and subcontractors, and the inspection schedules and logs. It is also a place to document changes and modifications to the construction plans and associated stormwater pollution prevention activities. The SWPPP is generally required to comply with EPA’s or the state’s stormwater construction general permit.

These plans are considered necessary because construction activities , can significantly alter the natural hydrology of the land by increasing the volume, velocity, and temperature of runoff and by decreasing its infiltration capacity. Increasing the volume and velocity of stormwater runoff can cause severe stream bank erosion, flooding, and degrade the biological habitat of these streams. In addition, as stormwater runoff moves across surfaces, it picks up trash, debris, and pollutants such as sediment, oil and grease, pesticides and other toxics. Changes in ambient water temperature, sediment, and pollutants from stormwater runoff can be detrimental to aquatic life, wildlife, habitat, and human health. Soil exposed by construction activities is especially vulnerable to erosion. Runoff from an unstabilized construction site can result in the loss of approximately 35–45 tons of sediment per acre each year (ASCE and WFF, 1992). Even during a short period of time, construction sites can contribute more sediment to streams than would be deposited naturally over several decades. Excess sediment will cloud the water. The primary stormwater pollutant at a construction site is sediment, and sediment is a pollutant by: definition; legally; and in terms of the measurable harm it can cause to the environment.

If sediment and erosion controls and good housekeeping practices are not followed, construction activity can result in the discharge of significant amounts of sediment and other pollutants. The term Best Management Practices or BMPs is often used to describe the controls and activities used to prevent stormwater pollution.

If sediment and erosion controls and good housekeeping practices are not followed, construction activity can result in the discharge of significant amounts of sediment and other pollutants. The term Best Management Practices or BMPs is often used to describe the controls and activities used to prevent stormwater pollution. BMPs can be divided into two categories—structural and non-structural BMPs. Structural BMPs include silt fences, sedimentation ponds, erosion control blankets, and temporary or permanent seeding, while non-structural BMPs include picking up trash and debris, sweeping up nearby sidewalks and streets, maintaining equipment, and training site staff on erosion and sediment control practices.

SWPPPs are written documents that describe the pollution prevention practices and activities that will be implemented on the site. It includes descriptions of the site and of each major phase of the planned activity, the roles and responsibilities of contractors and subcontractors, and the inspection schedules and logs. It is also a place to document changes and modifications to the construction plans and associated stormwater pollution prevention activities.

The Clean Water Act and associated federal regulations (Title 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations [CFR] 123.25(a)(9), 122.26(a), 122.26(b)(14)(x) and 122.26(b)(15)) require nearly all construction site operators engaged in clearing, grading, and excavating activities that disturb one acre or more, including smaller sites in a larger common plan of development or sale, to obtain coverage under a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit for their stormwater discharges. Under the NPDES program, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) can authorize states to implement the federal requirements and issue stormwater permits. Today, most states are authorized to implement the NPDES program and issue their own permits for stormwater discharges associated with construction activities.

When developing a SWPPP, it is important to understand the difference between erosion control and sediment control. Erosion control measures (e.g., mulch, blankets, mats, vegetative cover) protect the soil surface and prevent soil particles from being dislodged and carried away by wind or water. Sediment control measures remove soil particles after they have been dislodged (typically through settling or filtration). It is usually more effective, easier and less expensive to prevent erosion than it is to control sedimentation.

EPA Guide

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Google Plus Pictures!

Find us on google plus (Breakwaterpc) and get access to free lighthouse drawings, and get some of the latest information regarding our organization!

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Rhode Island GIS News: RIGIS User Group meeting (2/7/12) agenda

Rhode Island GIS News: RIGIS User Group meeting (2/7/12) agenda: RIGIS User Group Meeting (theme: municipal water, stormwater, wastewater mapping) 93 Narragansett Avenue, Jamestown (Town Hall) 1:00pm

It went very well, thanks everybody who attended!