Our Goal: Protecting Drinking Water at Its Source
The Scituate Reservoir Watershed is made up of the land that water flows across or under on its way to the Scituate Reservoir. How the land is used will directly impact the quality of the water. The more highly developed the land is – the more pollutants that are likely to enter the reservoir. But before the water makes its way to the reservoir, much of it passes through the groundwater that feeds the wells of residents living in the watershed. When residents work together to protect water resources, everyone benefits – from your own family drinking your tap water, to your next door neighbor, to most residents, restaurants and businesses across RI, as well as future generations.
Providence Water owns about 33% of the land surrounding the reservoir, and the vast majority of that land is managed forest land. Keeping land forested is the best way to protect drinking water at its source, as opposed to heavy treatment later in the distribution process. The remaining 67% of the land is owned by municipalities and residents living in Scituate, Glocester, Foster, Western Johnston and a small portion of Cranston and Smithfield, RI. Providence Water wishes to recognize and thank these landowners for employing good stewardship techniques on their land, as the entire state benefits – our water is ranked #2 in the nation!
The Scituate Reservoir Watershed Education Program's outreach theme for 2014 is "Woods to Water: Drinking Water's Great Adventure." This year's theme was inspired by a new partnership formed this year with The Forest Guild, made possible by funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation. Through this partnership, third and fifth grade students from Providence's William D'Abate Elementary School were included this year's elementary school Poster Contest and Water Festival. In the spirit of connecting Rhode Island's urban and rural communities, the 2014 curriculum follows the trail that a single water droplet takes from the Scituate Reservoir to a home in Providence, with an emphasis on the important role that forests have in keeping Rhode Island's drinking water clean.
Forests purify ground and surface waters. In fact, forests serve as a primary way of protecting and managing public drinking water supplies. Forested buffers protect streams and ponds by filtering sediments and some nutrients that can degrade water quality and aquatic habitats. Forests are critical in sustaining the natural balance of the water cycle and protecting watersheds. Forests serve to protect us from frequent flooding and replenish groundwater resources. This is because the majority of rain and snowmelt soaks into the forest canopy and floor rather than quickly draining to the nearest surface water body.
For more about the forest in the Scituate Reservoir, click here.
Gina DeMarco, District Manager, Northern RI Conservation District 401-934-0840