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Water Use and Availability in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, North-Central Rhode Island

By Mark T. Nimiroski and Emily C. Wild

In cooperation with Rhode Island Water Resources Board

Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5031

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The citation for this report, in USGS format, is as follows:

Nimiroski, M.T., and Wild, E.C., 2005, Water use and availability in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, north-central Rhode Island: U.S. Geological Survey Scientific Investigations Report 2005-5031, 44 p.


 For more information about USGS activities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, visit the USGS MA-RI Water Science Center Home Page.

Abstract

The Woonasquatucket River Basin includes 51.0 square miles, and the Moshassuck River Basin includes 23.8 square miles in north-central Rhode Island. The study area comprises these two basins. The two basins border each other with the Moshassuck River Basin to the northeast of the Woonasquatucket River Basin. Seven towns are in the Woonasquatucket River Basin, and six towns are in the Moshassuck River Basin. To determine the water use and availability in the study area, water supply and discharge data were collected for these river basins for the 1995-99 period, and compared to estimated long-term water available.

The study area is unique in the State of Rhode Island, because no withdrawals from major public suppliers were made during the study period. Withdrawals were, therefore, limited to self-supplied domestic use, two minor suppliers, and one self-supplied industrial user. Because no metered data were available, the summer water withdrawals were assumed to be the same as the estimates for the rest of the year. Seven major water suppliers distribute an average of 17.564 million gallons per day for use in the study area from sources outside of the study area. The withdrawals from minor water suppliers were 0.017 million gallons per day in the study area, all in the town of Smithfield in the Woonasquatucket River Basin. The remaining withdrawals in the study area were estimated to be 0.731 million gallons per day by self-supplied domestic, commercial, industrial, and agricultural users.

Return flows in the study area included self-disposed water and disposal from permitted dischargers, including the Smithfield Sewage Treatment Plant. Return flows accounted for 4.116 million gallons per day in the study area. Most public-disposed water (15.195 million gallons per day) is collected by the Narragansett Bay Commission and is disposed outside of the basin in Narragansett Bay.

The PART program, a computerized hydrograph-separation application, was used at one index stream-gaging station to determine water availability based on the 75th, 50th, and 25th percentiles of the total base flow, the base flow minus the 7-day, 10-year flow criteria, and the base flow minus the Aquatic Base Flow criteria. The index station selected was the Branch River at Forestdale, which is close to the study area and has a similar percentage of sand and gravel area.

Water availability was estimated on the basis of baseflow contributions from sand and gravel deposits and till deposits at the index station. Flows were computed for June, July, August, and September 1957-2000, and a percentage of the total flow was determined to come from either sand and gravel deposits, or till, by using a regression equation. The base-flow contributions were converted to a flow per unit area at the station for the till and for the sand and gravel deposits and then applied to the deposits in the study area basins. These values were used to estimate the gross yield of base flow, as well as to subtract the two low flows (7-day, 10-year flow, and Aquatic Base Flow criteria). The results from the Branch River stream-gaging station were lowest in August at the 75th, 50th, and 25th percentile for total flow with either flow criteria subtracted. The estimated August gross yield at the 50th percentile from the Woonasquatucket River Basin was 12.94 million gallons per day, and 5.91 million gallons per day from the Moshassuck River Basin.

A ratio was calculated that is equal to total withdrawals divided by water availability. Water-availability flow scenarios at the 75th, 50th, and 25th percentiles for the basins, which are based on total water available from base-flow contributions from till and sand and gravel deposits in the basins, were assessed. The ratios were the highest in July for the 50th percentile estimated gross yield minus Aquatic Base Flow (ABF) flow criteria, where withdrawals are close to the available water. Ratios are not presented if the available water is less than the flow criteria. The ratio of withdrawals to the July gross yield at the 50th percentile minus Aquatic Base Flow was 0.796 for the Woonasquatucket and 0.275 for the Moshassuck River Basin.

A long-term hydrologic budget was calculated for the period of 1956-2000 for the Woonasquatucket River Basin and the period of 1964-2000 for the Moshassuck River Basin. The water withdrawals and return flows used in the budget were from 1995 through 1999. For the hydrologic budget, inflow was assumed to equal outflow and was about 120 million gallons per day in the Woonasquatucket River Basin and 56 million gallons per day in the Moshassuck River Basin. The estimated inflows from precipitation and water return flow were 97.3 and 2.7 percent, respectively, in the Woonasquatucket River Basin, and 98.3 and 1.7 percent, respectively, in the Moshassuck River Basin. The estimated outflows from evapotranspiration, streamflow, and water withdrawals were 43.4, 56.1, and 0.5 percent, respectively, in the Woonasquatucket River Basin, and 49.8, 50, and 0.2 percent, respectively, in the Moshassuck River Basin.

Contents

Abstract

Introduction

Purpose and Scope

Previous Investigations

Description of the Study Area

Population

Sand and Gravel Aquifers and Ground-Water Reservoirs

Climate

Land Use

Surface Water

Minor Civil Division

Woonasquatucket River Basin

Moshassuck River Basin

Water Use

New England Water-Use Data System

Public-Water Supply and Interbasin Transfers

Domestic Water Use

Public-Supply Use

Self-Supplied Use

Commercial and Industrial Water Use

Public-Supply Use

Self-Supplied Use

Agricultural Water Use

Return Flow and Interbasin Transfers

Site-Specific Return Flow

Aggregate Return Flow

Interbasin Transfers

Water Availability

Determining Ground-Water Discharge

Summer Water Availability and Ratios for Study Area

Water Budget

Summary

Acknowledgments

Selected References

Glossary

Figures

1–3. Maps showing:

1. Location of towns, counties, basin boundaries, hydrography, and sand and gravel areas in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, north-central Rhode Island

2. Location of streamflow-gaging stations, wells, and climatological stations in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins

3. Location of water-supply districts, Rhode Island Pollutant Discharge Elimination System sites, and wastewater-treatment plants in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins

4–9. Diagrams showing:

4. Providence Water Supply Board system

5. East Smithfield Water District system

6. Greenville Water District system

7. Smithfield Water Supply Board system

8. Lincoln Water District system

9. Pawtucket Water Supply Board system

10, 11. Graphs showing:

10. Percent base flow based on ratio of stratified deposits to till, Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins

11. Ratio of withdrawals (1995–99) to estimated availability (1957–99) during August and graphs of gross yield minus Aquatic Base Flow and gross yield minus the 7-day, 10-year flow at the 50th percentile for June, July, and August for A, the Woonasquatucket River; and B, the Moshassuck River

Tables

1. Total city or town populations by basin for 1990, estimated 1995–99 populations, and estimated populations on public supply, self supply, public disposal, and self disposal in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, north-central Rhode Island

2. Summary of climatological data pertinent to the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins

3. Land areas and land-use areas in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins

4. Land areas and land use by major public supplier in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, north-central Rhode Island

5. Summary of total land area, land area in the study area, total 1990 populations, estimated 1995–99 populations, and land-use area by category for cities and towns partially or entirely in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins

6. Estimated water use by city or town and basin in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

7. Minor suppliers by basin in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins

8. Estimated water use per 2-digit Standard Industrial Classification code by city or town in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

9. Estimated consumptive water use by city or town and basin in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

10. Estimated public- and self-disposed domestic, commercial, industrial, and metered return flow in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

11. Return flows by basin for the Rhode Island Pollutant Discharge Elimination System sites in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

12. Return flow from wastewater-treatment facilities within and outside of the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

13. Summary of estimated water withdrawals, imports, exports, use, non-account water use, consumptive use, and return flow in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

14. U.S. Geological Survey stream-gaging stations and minimum streamflows pertinent to the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins study area

15. Summary of water availability from sand and gravel and till deposits for June, July, August, and September in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

16. Summary of gross water availability for June, July, August, and September in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

17. Summary of ratios of water withdrawals to availability for June, July, August, and September in the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins, 1995–99

18. Average hydrologic budget for the Woonasquatucket and Moshassuck River Basins study area

 


U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey
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