Land development has a profound influence on the quality and quantity of the state’s waters. Every time it rains, the rainwater that is not absorbed into the ground or evaporated (called runoff) carries contaminants from lawns, streets, buildings and parking lots and deposits them directly into our streams, ponds, and Narragansett Bay.
What is it?
Have you ever noticed water flowing down the street when it rains? Have you ever wondered where the water flows to? Have you thought about what’s in the water? When it rains onto a forest or a field, some of that rain is absorbed by the ground, replenishing groundwater that is used by many for drinking water. Some of the rain is taken up by plants, and some of it simply evaporates. But very little of the rain flows over the ground. In a more developed setting, such as our cities and towns, rain falls onto pavement, or other surfaces such as roofs, sidewalks, parking lots, and driveways that don’t allow the water to be absorbed by the ground. The water that you see flowing down the street is called stormwater runoff.
Why is it a problem?
When stormwater hits the pavement, it picks up and mixes with what’s there. That might include:
- oil, grease, and automotive fluids;
- fertilizer and pesticides from gardens and homes;
- bacteria from pet waste and improperly maintained septic systems;
- soil from poor construction site management;
- sand from wintertime snow removal;
- soap from car washing; and
- debris and litter.
When rain water flows across pavement and down a storm drain, that water is almost always piped directly to the nearest stream, river, or bay. That water almost never goes to a treatment facility. Most storm drains simply collect rain water and channel it away to prevent flooding, carrying polluted runoff to local water resources.
Soil Erosion and Sediment Control at Construction Sites
Excessive quantities of soil may erode from land that is undergoing development for housing developments, commercial construction, filling, and road improvements. Much of this soil erosion is the result of poorly planned and implemented site grading and surface water runoff controls. This runoff and resulting erosion may result in conflicts and/or damage with neighboring properties and their owners, and can make costly repairs to drainage structures, roads, and embankments necessary. The resulting sediment can clog storm drains and road ditches, muddies streams, leaves deposits of silt in ponds and waterways, and is considered a major water pollutant.
The Town of Bristol has adopted the Soil Erosion, Runoff & Sediment Control Ordinance in an effort to prevent soil erosion, excessive surface water runoff, and sedimentation from occurring as a result of development within the town by requiring proper provisions for storm water disposal and soil erosion during and after construction, in order to promote the safety, public health and general welfare of the town.
Soil Erosion, Runoff & Sediment Control Ordinance
Soil Erosion, Runoff and Sediment Control Permit Application Forms
RI Soil Erosion & Sediment Control Handbook
Feasibility Studies, Plans & Reports
Review annual stormwater reports, watershed reports and feasibility studies.
Illicit Discharge Detection and Elimination
The Town of Bristol has an active program of mapping, inspecting, and monitoring its stormwater drainage system components including catch basins, manholes, pipelines and outfalls. Connections to the municipal storm drainage system are regulated by Town ordinance (see Chapter 13, Article VIII of Bristol Town Code), and illicit connections of non-stormwater flow to the system are prohibited. Town staff will investigate reports of suspected pollutant discharges or non-stormwater connections to the stormwater drainage system. Please contact the Department of Public Works at 253-4100 to report a suspected illicit connection.
URI Watershed Watch Program
For the 9th year, the Town of Bristol has partnered with the volunteers from Save Bristol Harbor in cooperation with the URI Watershed Watch Program to monitor the water quality in the Bristol Harbor Watershed and nearby coastal waters.
Learn More Below
Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management Stormwater Information
Rhode Island Stormwater Design and Installation Standards Manual
RI Low Impact Development Site Planning and Design Guidance Manual
Stormwater Management Guidelines for Individual Residential Lots
Rhode Island Stormwater Education Information
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Nonpoint Source Pollution Information
University of Rhode Island NEMO Program
The Center for Watershed Protection
River Watershed Plan
Rivers Watershed Plan
Address: 9 Court Street, Bristol, RI 02809
Hours of Operation: Monday – Friday | 8:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Phone: (401) 253-7000 ext. 128