State Water Resources Research Institute Program

Project ID: 2008RI74B
Title: Long-term, state-wide analysis of the relationship between water quality and demographic changes in the state of Rhode Island
Project Type: Research
Start Date: 3/01/2008
End Date: 2/28/2009
Congressional District: RI 2
Focus Categories: Water Quality, Management and Planning, Law, Institutions, and Policy
Keywords: Freshwater resouces, demographic change, water quality, land use planning, interdisciplinary research
Principal Investigators: Meyerson, Laura A (University of Rhode Island); Meyerson, Frederick A. B.
Federal Funds: $ 14,669
Non-Federal Matching Funds: $ 29,384
Abstract: This research will combine three data sets for Rhode Island in order to quantify and understand the relationships that exist between 1) water quality trends, 2) land use change, and 3) demographic change in Rhode Island. In recent decades, parts of Rhode Island have experienced significant population growth and development, but population and development density has varied widely across the state, as has the rate of change. Water quality in some RI watersheds has declined significantly, as septic systems, lawns, impervious surfaces, pesticide and herbicide use, and groundwater withdrawals have increased. The URI Watershed Watch data set contains information that reflects changes in water quality over space and time since 1988. The RIGIS database at the Environmental Data Center represents a comprehensive assessment of land use change in Rhode Island since 1988. Finally, U.S. Census Bureau data from the 1990 and 2000 censuses (and other years as available), will be interpreted and developed at geographical scales appropriate to watersheds in the URI Watershed Watch data set. This data integration, interpretation, and analysis will help identify the sources, vectors, mechanisms, and flow of pollutants, and the relation of water quality to demographic and developmental change, and land use trends and plans. The results of this research can also help us to understand past trends, to make projections, and to ensure that Rhode Islands freshwater systems are not irrevocably degraded in the future by demographic and land use change.

Progress/Completion Report, PDF

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