BCWA, Bristol at a funding stand-still over Poppasquash water line

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Residents of Poppasquash Road are still waiting for a decision on a potential upgrade to their water main.

After presenting its position to Bristol Town Council members during a special meeting Oct. 29, the Bristol County Water Authority essentially stated that if the town didn't want to take on a share of the project cost (38 percent, or $300,000), then cleaning and lining the pipe with cement would be put on hold.

“It’s not a high priority,” Executive Director Pam Marchand told BCWA board members during a meeting Nov. 13. “I would recommend that if the town wanted to go for cleaning and lining that we wait.”

Waiting could mean a few years, Ms. Marchand said.

"The pipe is in good condition and supplies water," she later added. "There are other mains in our system that need more attention."

Phase 1 of the project, which connected water lines from Duffield and Clifton roads to Asylum Road, increased the flow to Harbor View Avenue residents and also benefited the new community center.

However, uncertainty remains over whether the town should fund the installation of a new 8-inch pipe, replacing the 100-year-old pipe that follows Poppasquash Road. While the BCWA budgeted $469,000 to clean and re-line the cast iron pipe, the town would rather upgrade to a larger pipe that would provide sufficient fire flow, allowing the fire hydrants in the area to be put on-line. The cost to replace the entire line is $766,000.

Ms. Marchand told BCWA board members that Bristol officials would like to see the BCWA pay more than the $460,000 to cover the $766,000 cost to replace the pipe.

“If we start paying more than our fair share of the ratepayers’ money, where does it stop,” she said.

As a matter of practice, new lines that are installed, typically to service private homes or commercial properties, are paid for by the property owner. Once in place, the BCWA assumes the responsibility to service and maintain the lines. In this case, the BCWA considers the Town of Bristol to be the property owner and therefore financially responsible for installing a new pipe to replace the line.

If the two entities can agree upon a funding solution, the matter would still have to go before the BCWA board of directors for funding approval.

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