Carolyn Demko and Ann Morrill were on the beach at Laurel Park on
the Kickemuit River with their children, and they noticed there
was black silt on the hairs of the children's legs and arms. They
wondered why. By talking to others, they found out that the black
silt that was deeper in the middle of the river came from the backwash
filters of the Bristol County Water Company. Carolyn and Ann went
to talk to the Monroe's who lived on the westerly shore of the Kickemuit.
The Monroe's had been very concerned about the muck for they could
see the river deteriorating before their eyes. They said that what
had been a very sandy bottom was now all black muck from the pipe
in front of their property. They told how a young quahogger had
drowned in the river because he had the bag of quahogs tied around
his waist and he inadvertently stepped in deep muck and drowned
with his feet trapped by the muck. They told how other efforts had
been made to try to correct this problem, but were unsuccessful,
because BCWC was owned by American Water Works and squelched any
efforts. They knew about the marine biologist, Manuel Canario, had
done a study that showed the bad effects the silt was having on
the marine life in the river. This silt was coming from the water
company treatment of water from another source. The Monroe’s
were happy that someone was interested in solving the problem. They
would help however they could.
In 1967, Carolyn and Ann brought the problem to the Laurel Park
Improvement Association and Ecology Action of R.I. Ecology Action
found a Newport lawyer, Kathleen Monaghan to handle the case if
we could raise $1,000 for court and legal fees. Then Carolyn and
Ann presented the case to local organizations such as the Bristol
County Stripers Club (BCSC). Peter Sepe introduced them. BCSC were
very receptive. C & A decided to collect a petition and have
raffle at a dollar a ticket to raise the money for the legal fees.
Organizations all around the river were approached. Frances Anderton
from the League of Woman Voters invited Carolyn Demko to speak to
the group on the problem. Carolyn accepted and did so. The Warren
Town Council, under Town Council President, Paul Harvey, was very
receptive and called for a public hearing on matter. Senator John
Chafee and Warren Town Council, President, came to the Kickemuit
River and wrecked their shoes walking in the river near Child Street.
The Providence Journal wrote an editorial asking citizens to come
to the hearing. The editorial, in 1969, said, "The Kickemuit
River cannot speak for itself. It needs loud voices from those who
know it, love it and want to save it. "So many people came.
So many young men, including friends of the quahogger who had drowned,
came and spoke. They all wanted this silt problem corrected and
unanimously supported our efforts and encouraged the Town Council
Manuel Canario, the marine biologist, called and confirmed his report
on the bad effects of the silt on marine life. He had tried to stop
the Water Company and was not successful. A thousand signatures
and the thousand dollars were collected which we gave to the lawyer.
This went on for years in the courts. Ann Morrill kept track of
the decisions and communications with the lawyer and courts.
The Federal Court finally said that BCWC had to stop the discharge.
Governor Licht came to Warren to personally thank Carolyn and Ann
for their successful efforts. There was no more silt on the children's
arms and legs. Ken Morrill said that an organization should be formed
that meet regularly representing the various neighborhood/associations
around the salt water Kickemuit River, so, that the problems that
one group was having that could affect the river could be brought
back and decisions made. In 1973, the first meeting of the Kickemuit
River Council was formed at the Butterworth Avenue Association Hall.
On September 18, 1973 a committee of people with representatives
from Butterworth Avenue Association, Cedar Crest Association, Touisset
Highlands, and Laurel Park Improvement Association met with the
purpose of setting up a council that would afford the opportunity
of understanding through awareness the problems of the whole Kickemuit
River and of planning together for the future plans of this River.
The charter members of the organization of the KRC are as follows:
William Gablinski, Steven Roth, Frank Sherman, Leroy Boissoneault,
Edward Pelligrini, Manuel Camille, Charles Jocelyn, Rene Beauvais,
Henry Keefe, Patricia McGuirl, Dorothy Mathewson, James Mathewson,
Anthony Balzano, Kenneth Morrill, Ann Morrill, David Harrison, and
The name of the new organization was voted to be the “Kickemuit
The officers were elected as follows:
• Frank Sherman, President (Cedar Crest)
• Manuel Camille, Vice President (Butterworth Avenue Improvement
• James Mathewson, Treasurer (Touisset Highlands)
• Ann Morrill, Secretary (Laurel Park Improvement Association)
A Bylaws Committee was formed consisting of all of the Charter Members.
The date for them to meet was September 27, 1973.