BCWA Executive Director blames politics on separation from Providence Water Supply Board

BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand, shown here at Wednesday's Board of Directors meeting, said she favored one alternative rate structure because of its simplicity. BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand, shown here at Wednesday's Board of Directors meeting, said she favored one alternative rate structure because of its simplicity.

BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand, shown here at Wednesday’s Board of Directors meeting.

Bristol County Water Authority Executive Director Pamela Marchand characterized her split with the Providence Water Supply Board as a “political decision” Wednesday night ahead of a media report released Thursday detailing a $256,000 buyout package she received from the PWSB.

This week’s Hummel Report, entitled “Buyout,” states Ms. Marchand was terminated without cause in Dec. 2011. The report references a termination letter given to Ms. Marchand along with her Providence Water Supply Board contract. It also contains interviews with Mayor Angel Tavares and current PWSB Chairman Brett Smiley.

Ms. Marchand declined to comment for the story. She reportedly failed to return phone calls and would not speak to the issue when approached at BCWA headquarters in Warren.

At the BCWA Board of Directors most recent meeting, however, Ms. Marchand said that since a story was forthcoming she felt she should comment.

Ms. Marchand said she was first approached for the Providence job while working as chief engineer and general manager for the Pawtucket Water Supply Board though she was hesitant to take the position because of Providence’s “rough and tumble” political environment.

Eventually, Ms. Marchand said she decided to take the job after receiving assurance from the former mayor and former board chairman that they would “run interference” with any politics.

But when a new mayor and new board chairman came to Providence, Ms. Marchand said there was a different philosophy for operating the Providence Water Supply Board. Ms. Marchand said one of the provisions in her contract allowed for political change, an opportunity she said the current administration acted on.

The termination letter references section 8A of Ms. Marchand’s agreement, which states that the Providence Water Supply Board may unilaterally terminate the agreement.

Ms. Marchand said the BCWA opening represented an “excellent opportunity” and was a situation where she felt she could have an effect. Ms. Marchand said she is “very pleased” to be with the BCWA.

To see “Buyout,” visit the Hummel Report. 

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