Letter to the Editor: Don’t be Misled By Social Media Posts

The Town Council meeting on Monday, February 28th saw many town residents who wanted their voice to be heard. The theme of many emails and speakers to the Town Council members was, “Don’t relax standards for North Kingstown’s water supply.” Unfortunately, misinformation on social media reported the new groundwater ordinance will not protect our reservoirs and aquifers. This is not true. In fact, the protection areas for our town's wells are made much larger, the proposed ordinance adds features like monitoring wells requirements for some businesses, and it also allows the water department to quickly regulate new kinds of businesses without having to wait for another ordinance rewrite.

For two years the proposed groundwater ordinance was discussed with the NK Conservation Commission, the NK Planning Commission, and the NK Ground Water Committee; they discussed the impact of water runoff from 21st century businesses such as nail salons, dog grooming, biowaste, and manufacturing. The current 1990’s groundwater ordinance discusses outdated technology that needs to be updated. At the Feb. 28th Town Council meeting, the University of Rhode Island’s Lorraine Joubert, head of the Nonpoint Education of Municipal Officials (NEMO), advocated for the proposed amended water ordinance by stating no other RI community provided a higher level of protection for groundwater than North Kingstown. NEMO uses the NK proposed ordinance as a model for other communities to demonstrate what are best practices in groundwater protections and septic system management. A letter from Ernest Panciera, the supervising environmental scientist for the RI Department of Environmental Management, supports North Kingstown’s proposed new ordinance because it will protect ground water.

Members from three volunteer commissions (Planning, Conservation, and Groundwater) spoke and endorsed the proposed water ordinance. Tim Cranston, the director of NK’s Water Department, emphasized that the proposed ordinance was not reducing any protections on North Kingstown’s groundwater, but instead the proposed changes will increase protections.

The intent of the new water ordinance is to continue to have safe drinking water in North Kingstown. All Town Council members, Tim Cranston, and Planning Director Nicole LaFontaine live in NK and we all drink the water too. No one is advocating to loosen the groundwater standards. The proposed ordinance will not downgrade protection. The mission of the North Kingstown Water Department is to protect our aquifers and ground water. In North Kingstown, our town officials want to continue to have safe and clean drinking water for years to come. If you have questions about the intent of the new ordinance, ask questions of town officials who can accurately explain the ordinance and the proposals. Don’t look to social media for misinformation or hysteria. Gather information, ask questions, and go to accurate sources. Be informed by visiting town hall (100 Fairway Ave) or call 401-294-3331.

Kimberly Ann Page, 24 Eden Court, NK, RI 02852, 401-294-6378