2008-01-31 / Letters to the Editor

EPA to hold public hearing on aquifer

I encourage Jamestown residents to mark their calendars and attend the US Environmental Protection Agency's Sole Source Aquifer Public Hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 13, from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Jamestown library in the large meeting room.

At this hearing, EPA officials will present a Power- Point on Jamestown's water supply and citizens' questions will be answered.

Our island has met EPA criteria as a Sole Source Aquifer. Jamestown's Sole - or Primary - Source aquifer is north of Zeek's creek. In addition to this large underlying aquifer, Jamestown's water assets on the north end include the town's municipal wells and the two reservoirs.

The town wells supplement reservoir water with underground aquifer water. The aquifer and the reservoirs depend on the north end's wetlands and land recharge areas to filter water.

The Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 requires the U.S. government to protect Sole Source Aquifers. One hundred percent of Jamestowners rely on the aquifer in one way or another. Firstly, the municipal wells supplement the public water supply with aquifer water. Secondly, 57 percent of Jamestowners on private wells depend on the aquifer for their sole water supply. The EPA's definition of Sole Source Aquifer is if 50 percent of residents rely on the underlying aquifer as their sole or primary source of water.

Economic hurdles, defined by the USEPA, have been met. An important hurdle was: Can Jamestown obtain its drinking water elsewhere, and at an economically reasonable cost to the residents, if the aquifer were to be contaminated? We now know drinking water is not feasible to Jamestown at a reasonable economic cost based on the EPA's test criteria. Also, letters from the town manager of North Kingstown, the city manager of Newport and our town administrator describe the unavailability of off-island drinking water for our island.

The Sole Source Aquifer petition (i.e. report), with town and state documents backing the text, has been available since June 2007 at the Jamestown Philomenian Library. The Town Hall also has hard copy of the SSA text.

The Town's website has the "Sole Source Aquifer Petition" text posted on the homepage, http:// www.jamestownri.net/index.html. It is the first entry under "News & Hot Topics in Jamestown." The SSA is also posted under "News" on the first website page: go directly to http://www.jamestownri. net/new.html. At all locations are the letters from Newport, North Kingstown and our town administrator Bruce Keiser.

Please also see the EPA's legal notice of the Public Hearing in this week's Jamestown Press. I have worked directly with the EPA's Doug Heath since the beginning of 2006 on our island's Sole Source Aquifer Petition. Feel free to call me at 423-2304.

Ellen Winsor 736 East Shore Road

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