In 1999, the RI General Assembly granted the agency sole authority to devise a fair and equitable allocation of water resources among users and uses to ensure that long-range considerations of water supply prevail over short-term considerations. Towards this end, the Board has initiated a collaborative water allocation program development process, watershed studies, hydrologic modeling efforts, drought planning and management, and further work to develop a water supply in the Big River Management Area.
Phase I: Water Allocation Program Advisory Committee (WAPAC)
Phase I Flowchart Diagam (PDF)
In June 2002, the Board launched an inclusive water allocation planning effort, the Water Allocation Program Advisory Committee, with 66 participating organizations (150 individuals) to develop a water allocation program for the state. The Board considered twenty-one priority recommendations during 2003. The Board approved 6 of these recommendations at the March 2004 meeting to form the basis for a Rhode Island Water Allocation program:
- Adopt a Priority Water Use Policy;
- Create a Water Management System using a Watershed Approach;
- Continue the detailed Water Resources Inventory and expand the Water Use Data Reporting System;
Establish a Water Allocation Program Implementation Team (to work with staff in the design of a water management system and develop a pilot project in a Rhode Island watershed);
- Establish a separate WRB/DEM Partnership to be known as the Streamflow Working Group to address streamflow issues such as: aquatic base flow and the further development of a statewide streamflow gaging network; and
- Establish an Education and Outreach Program (working collaboratively with existing public and not-for-profit organizations).
Phase II Water Allocation Implementation Team
The Phase II Implementation Team was tasked to begin implementation of the six water allocation recommendations. The Team includes a diverse group of municipal planners, water suppliers, state partner agencies and environmental advocacy groups. The Team has worked throughout 2004 to design a water management system that identifies the water resources available within a basin and sub-basin. A long-term water budget based on basin and sub-basin fact sheets using the Lower Blackstone River Basin have been designed based on a series of consensus planning meetings. A technical subcommittee was formed to fully evaluate basin ratios and base flow system triggers. During 2004, the Implementation Team efforts have also resulted in a draft report that will be presented to the Board for action at the March 2005 meeting. The pilot study in the Lower Blackstone River basin will commence during spring 2005 and will include a series of workshops and meetings with planners and decision-makers in communities throughout the Lower Blackstone basin. It is anticipated that new guidance for local comprehensive plans and a technical assistance document will result from the 2005 pilot project.