Title 46
Waters and Navigation

Chapter 28
The Rhode Island Rivers Council

R.I. Gen. Laws § 46-28-7

§ 46-28-7. Powers and duties.

The council shall have the following powers:

(1) To be entitled to ask for and receive from any commission, board, officer, or agency of the state such information, cooperation, assistance, and advice as shall be reasonable and proper in view of the nature of said functions;

(2) To assess, evaluate and coordinate with federal, regional and state agencies the current programs and policies as they relate to efforts to clean up and preserve rivers and watersheds throughout the state; and to participate in coordination mechanisms to achieve systems level planning for the state;

(3) To prepare and recommend a rivers policy for the state of Rhode Island for adoption by the state planning council as a part of the state guide plan as described in § 42-11-10(c)(7), as amended, following the procedures for notification and public hearing set forth in § 42-35-3, as amended. Said policy shall be consistent with federal water quality requirements and shall give consideration to development, public or private, which has commenced at the time of the adoption of a rivers policy. Such rivers policy shall treat rivers as ecological systems;

(4) To prepare and recommend a plan for the classification of all rivers in the state of Rhode Island for adoption by the state planning council as a part of the state guide plan, following the procedures for notification and public hearing set forth in § 42-35-3, as amended. The classifications shall identify characteristics of water bodies beyond their quality to reflect their current or potential uses for drinking water sources, agricultural irrigation, industrial processes, including cooling water sources, water-based recreation, aquatic habitat, aesthetic enhancement, and others. The classification plan shall be consistent with current water quality classifications adopted by the department of environmental management. Such classification plan shall contain a minimum of three (3) classes of rivers, including:

(A) Pristine rivers. Those rivers or sections of rivers that are free of impoundments and generally inaccessible except by trail, with watersheds or shorelines essentially primitive and water relatively unpolluted;

(B) Recreational rivers. Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible, that may have some development along their shorelines and may have undergone some impoundment or diversion in the past. These shall include sections of rivers along mill villages, but shall not include sections where development may be characterized as urban; and

(C) Working rivers. Those rivers or sections of rivers that are readily accessible, that have development along their shorelines, that have undergone impoundment or diversion, and where development may be classified as urban.

In the classification of rivers, different sections of a single river may enjoy different classifications as appropriate.

(5) To make findings and recommendations among state agencies and political subdivisions by participating in administrative proceedings and by reporting to the governor regarding disputes and conflicts on river and watershed issues;

(6) To make findings and recommendations to state agencies and political subdivisions regarding measures necessary to protect river quality and to promote river uses consistent with the state’s river policy and river classification plan;

(7) To formally recognize and to provide grants to local watershed councils;

(8) To foster public involvement in river planning and decision-making processes by;

(i) Conducting public education programs about rivers and watersheds;

(ii) Promoting public access to and use of rivers, as appropriate;

(iii) Holding informal workshops prior to the adoption of:

(A) The state’s rivers policy;

(B) The state’s river classification plan or any portion thereof as provided for in subsection (d) of this section; and

(C) The establishment of any local watershed council; and

(iv) Providing technical assistance to local watershed councils to participate in watershed planning.

(9) To recommend programs, policies and proposals to the governor, the speaker of the house and the president of the senate;

(10) Establish subcommittees as may be needed to carry out the purpose of this chapter;

(11) To promulgate regulations and procedures as may be needed to issue grants and approve watershed action plans, including rules requiring notice by state or city and town agencies to local watershed councils regarding proposed actions pertaining to projects, developments and activities located wholly or partially within the watershed represented by the local watershed council;

(12) To apply for and accept grants, donations, loans of funds, and contributions of money, services, materials or otherwise from any federal, state or local agency, from any public or private foundation, or individual or from any other source, in order to carry out the purposes of this chapter; and

(13) To conduct a training course for newly appointed and qualified members of the council and new designees of ex officio members within six (6) months of their qualification or designation. The course shall be developed by the chair of the council, approved by the council and conducted by the chair of the council. The council may approve the use of any council or staff members or other individuals to assist with training. The course shall include instruction in the following areas: the provisions of chapters 46-28, 42-46, 36-14 and 38-2; and the council’s operating procedures, rules and regulations. The director of the department of administration shall, within ninety (90) days of the effective date of this act [April 20, 2006], prepare and disseminate training materials relating to the provisions of chapters 42-46, 36-14 and 38-2.

History of Section.
P.L. 1991, ch. 198, § 1; P.L. 1992, ch. 148, § 1; P.L. 2004, ch. 159, § 4; P.L. 2004, ch. 254, § 4; P.L. 2006, ch. 22, § 8; P.L. 2006, ch. 27, § 8.