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The Pawtucket Water Supply Board (PWSB) draws its source water from four surface water reservoirs and eight wells located in the Abbott Run watershed. The Abbott Run watershed is approximately 17,536 acres (27.4 square miles) and includes land in both Rhode Island and Massachusetts. The two larger reservoirs, Diamond Hill Reservoir and Arnolds Mills Reservoir, have a combined surface area of 638 acres (1 square mile) and a storage capacity of 4.83 billion gallons.
The PWSB owns 2,046 acres (3.2 square miles) of watershed property and controls another 140 acres through the purchase of conservation easements. A conservation easement allows the property to remain in the hands of the private owner but prohibits residential, industrial or commercial development and subdivisions, and bans other activities damaging to the land and/or water resources. These restrictions are binding on all future owners of the property and ensure that the land will always remain in its natural state. This is important since a pristine watershed will naturally filter pollutants and improve water quality by slowing surface runoff and increasing the infiltration of water into the soil. The result is less flooding and soil erosion, cleaner water downstream, which helps reduce treatment costs, and greater groundwater recharge.
It will continue to be the PWSB’s policy to evaluate properties within the watershed as they become available for purchase of conservation easements or for outright purchase. The PWSB will also continue to look for partnership opportunities with other public or private organizations which have funds available for land conservation. The PWSB will remain diligent in the protection of its source water and the delivery of safe drinking water to its customers.