Bonnie Van Slyke’s Comments at the December 5 EFSB Public Hearing

The following comments were spoken by Bonnie Van Slyke at the December 5 Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB) Public Hearing at the Charlestown Elementary School. Bonnie Van Slyke is a member of the Charlestown Town Council.

My name is Bonnie Van Slyke. I am a member of the Town Council, but I speak as a resident of Charlestown. Thank you for coming to Charlestown.

Invenergy’s application calls for water to be withdrawn from the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed—a watershed designated by the Environmental Protection Agency as the ONLY source of our drinking water. This water would be withdrawn year after year over the lifespan of the power plant.

This is alarming because sea level rise and warming temperatures will affect Charlestown in particular during this time period because of our geology. This plan will impact our ability, and that of other coastal communities within this watershed as well, to manage these effects.

  • NOAA projects that sea levels in the Northeast will rise by 9.2 to 11 feet by 2100 and estimates a 3- to 5-foot rise by 2050.
  • More that half of the town’s population (approximately 4,500 people in 2,250 homes) live south of state Route 1 on the coastal plain and stand to be affected by sea level rise.
  • Added to this number are residents in the 240 residential properties north of Route 1 in the SAMP (Special Area Management Plan) area.
  • Also added should be individuals in businesses and institutions, and the town’s visitors. (Note Charlestown’s population swells to between 20,000 and 30,000 in the summer months.)

Considering that seasonal tides (which add an additional 2 feet) and coastal storms that can occur at high tide, Charlestown will wake up long before 2050 to issues with saltwater intrusion into wells and septic systems that will be less effective or have failed, which will cause issues with our drinking water supply. Other threats (such as oil spills) could further affect our drinking water supply.

As a result, Charlestown, and other communities, will need water from the Wood-Pawcatuck Watershed during the life of this plant.

RI’s Water Quality 2035 states, “Water quality is most effectively managed on a watershed basis.” Charlestown’s economy depends on being able to provide drinking water. Please reject this plan to withdraw water, especially an UNKNOWN AMOUNT of water, from Charlestown and truck it to another watershed. Please do not mortgage our future!

Bonnie Van Slyke

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