Jump to main content or area navigation.

Contact Us

Drinking Water in New England

Nantucket FR

Updated Contact Information
Michael Hill • (617) 918-1398

(Cite as: 49 FR 2952)

NOTICES

ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY

[OW-FRL-2508-6]

Final Determination; Sole Source Aquifer Determinations: Nantucket Island Aquifer, Block Island Aquifer

Tuesday, January 24, 1984

*2952 AGENCY: U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

ACTION: Notice.

SUMMARY: Pursuant to Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act, the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Nantucket Island aquifer and the Block Island aquifer, respectively, are the sole or principal sources of drinking water for Nantucket, Massachusetts, and New Shoreham, Rhode Island, and that the aquifers, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health. As a result of this action, Federal financially assisted projects proposed to be constructed on Nantucket Island or Block Island will be subject to EPA review to ensure that these projects are designed and constructed so that they do not create a significant hazard to public health.

EFFECTIVE DATE: February 23, 1984.

ADDRESSES: The data on which these findings are based is available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1, Water Supply Branch, J. F. Kennedy Federal Building, Boston, Massachusetts 02203.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Steven J. Koorse, Water Supply Branch, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1, at (617) 223-6688.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Notice is hereby given that pursuant to Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act (42 U.S.C. 300f, 300h-3(e), Pub. L. 93- 523) the Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has determined that the Nantucket Island aquifer and the Block Island aquifer, respectively, are the sole or principal sources of drinking water for Nantucket, Massachusetts, and New Shoreham, Rhode Island. Pursuant to Section 1424(e), Federal financially assisted projects proposed to be constructed anywhere on Nantucket or Block Island will be subject to EPA review.
Section 1424(e) of the Safe Drinking Water Act states:
(e) If the Administrator determines, on his own initiative or upon petition, that an area has an aquifer which is the sole or principal drinking water source for the area and which, if contaminated, would create a significant hazard to public health, he shall publish notice of that determination in the Federal Register. After the publication of any such notice, no commitment for Federal financial assistance (through a grant, contract, loan guarantee, or otherwise) may be entered into for any project which the Administrator determines may contaminate such aquifer through a recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, but a commitment for Federal financial assistance may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.

On December 2, 1982, EPA received a petition submitted jointly by the Nantucket Planning and Economic Development Commission and the Wannacomet Water Company requesting EPA to designate the Nantucket Island aquifer as a sole source aquifer.

On February 18, 1983, EPA received a petition from the New Shoreham, Rhode Island, Town Clerk requesting EPA to designate the Block Island aquifer as a sole source aquifer.

*2953 In response to these two petitions, EPA published a combined notice in the Federal Register on June 13, 1983 (48 FR 27146). The notice served to publish the petitions and to request public comments on each petition.

Basis for Determination

Among the factors to be considered by the Administrator in connection with the designation of an area under Section 1424(e) are: (1) whether the aquifer is the area's sole or principal source of drinking water and (2) whether contamination of the aquifer would create a significant hazard to public health.

On the basis of information available to EPA, the Administrator has made the following findings, which are the bases for the determinations noted above.

  • The Nantucket Island aquifer is a single continuous aquifer which currently serves as a source of drinking water for approximately 7,000 permanent residents and 27,000 peak seasonal residents of Nantucket.
  • The Block Island aquifer is a single continuous aquifer which currently serves as a source of drinking water for approximately 550 permanent residents and 12,000 peak seasonal residents of New Shoreham.
  • There is no existing alternative drinking water source or combination of sources which provide fifty percent or more of the drinking water to either of the designated areas, nor are there any reasonably available alternative future sources capable of meeting the drinking water demands of the two areas.
  • The Nantucket and Block Island aquifers are glacial in origin and are composed of unconsolidated sand, gravel, silt and clay deposits. As a result of their highly permeable soil characteristics, the aquifers are susceptible to contamination from a number of sources, including but not limited to, chemical spills, highway runoff, septic tanks, leaking storage tanks and leachate from open dumps. Since ground-water contamination can be difficult or impossible to reverse and since the Nantucket Island aquifer and the Block Island aquifer are relied on for drinking water purposes by the general population, contamination of either aquifer could pose a significant hazard to public health.

Description of the Aquifers and Their Recharge Zones

Nantucket Island: The Island of Nantucket is the largest of the group of islands that form the Town of Nantucket, Massachusetts. Nantucket is located about 25 miles south of Cap Cod and 15 miles east of Martha's Vineyard. The area in which Federal financially assisted projects will be subject to review is the area that includes the Nantucket Island aquifer, its stream flow source zone and its recharge area, which are one and the same.

Block Island: Block Island is the popular name for the Town of New Shoreham, Rhode Island. The Island is located about 10 miles south of Rhode Island and 14 miles east of Long Island, New York. The area in which Federal financially assisted projects will be subject to review includes the Block Island aquifer, its stream flow source zone and its recharge area, which are one and the same.
For purposes of these designations the Nantucket Island aquifer and the Block Island aquifer are considered single continuous aquifers, with the Atlantic Ocean forming the lateral boundaries of each aquifer. Similarly, the recharge zone boundaries of each aquifer will be regarded as coextensive with the lateral boundaries of the aquifers.

Information Utilized in the Determinations

The information utilized in this determination includes the petitions, a ground-water resources study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey (Water Resources of Nantucket Island, Massachusetts, Atlas HA-615), a ground-water resources study conducted by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the Rhode Island Water Resources Coordinating Board (Ground-Water Resources of Block Island, Rhode Island, Rhode Island Geological Bulletin No. 14) and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency technical publications. The above data are available to the public and may be inspected during normal business hours at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 1, Water Supply Branch, J. F. Kennedy Federal Building, Boston, Massachusetts 02203.

Project Review

EPA Region I is working with the Federal agencies that may in the future provide financial assistance to projects in the area of concern.

Interagency procedures are being developed in which EPA will be notified of proposed commitments by Federal agencies for projects which could contaminate the Nantucket or Block Island aquifiers. EPA will evaluate such projects and, where necessary, conduct an in-depth review, including soliciting public comments where appropriate. Should the Administrator determine that a project may contaminate either aquifer through its recharge zone so as to create a significant hazard to public health, no commitment for Federal financial assistance may be entered into. However, a commitment for Federal financial may, if authorized under another provision of law, be entered into to plan or design the project to assure that it will not so contaminate the aquifer.
Although the project review process cannot be delegated, the EPA will rely to the maximum extent possible on any existing or future State and local control mechanisms in protecting the ground-water quality of the designated aquifers. EPA Region I will coordinate the review of any Federal financially assisted project with State and local agencies. Their comments will be given full consideration and the Federal review process will attempt to complement and support State and local groundwater protection mechanisms.

Summary of Public Comments

No written comments, pro or con, were received during the public comment period. In view of the apparent lack of controversy over the proposed designations, EPA did not schedule public hearings.

Regulatory Flexibility Act and Executive Order 12291 Requirements

Pursuant to the provisions of the Regulatory Flexibility Act (RFA), 5 U.S.C. Section 605(b), I hereby certify that the attached rule will not have a significant impact on a substantial number of small entities. For purposes of this Certification, the term "small entity" shall have the same meaning as given in Section 601 of the RFA. This action is only applicable to Nantucket Island and Block Island, as formerly delineated in this notice. The only affected entities will be those Nantucket or Block Island businesses, organizations or governmental jurisdictions that request Federal financial assistance for projects which have the potential for contaminating the aquifer so as to create a significant hazard to public health.

For those small entities which are subject to review, the impact of today's action will not be significant. Most projects subject to this review will be preceded by a ground-water impact assessment required pursuant to other Federal laws, such as the National Environmental Policy Act, as amended (NEPA), 42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq. Integration of those related review procedures with sole source aquifer review will allow EPA and other Federal agencies to avoid delay or duplication of effort in approving financial assistance, thus minimizing any adverse effect on those small entities which are affected. *2954 Finally, today's action does not prevent grants of Federal financial assistance which may be available to any affected small entity in order to pay for the redesign of the project to assure protection of the aquifer.

Under Executive order 12291, EPA must judge whether a regulation is "major" and, therefore, subject to the requirement of a Regulatory Impact Analysis. This regulation is not major because it will not have an annual effect of $100 million or more on the economy, will not cause any major increase in costs or prices, and will not have significant adverse effects on competition, employment, investment, productivity, innovation, or the ability of United States enterprises to compete in domestic or export markets. Today's action only affects Nantucket Island and Block Island. It provides an additional review of ground-water protection measures, incorporating State and local measures whenever possible, for only those projects which request Federal financial assistance.

Dated: January 12, 1983.

William D. Ruckelshaus,

Administrator.

[FR Doc. 84-1896 Filed 1-23-84; 8:45 am]

BILLING CODE 6560-50-M

49 FR 2952-01, 1984 WL 128394 (F.R.)

END OF DOCUMENT

Jump to main content.