Letter: East Bay at risk without second water supply


Recently there has been press attention relative to the Bristol County Water Authority’s interest and activity to secure an additional supply of water and end its total dependence on a 16-year-old pipeline under the Providence River. The Board of Directors of the BCWA thought it was important to again communicate its position on this issue.

After considerable study and analysis, it is very clear the best alternative for a redundant water supply is via connections to the Pawtucket Water Supply Board. This interconnection would require the participation — financially and otherwise — from the city of East Providence. The BCWA wants to state again that if East Providence does not agree to participate in the project, it will not happen.

The ratepayers of the BCWA will not fund improvements to the East Providence system. The BCWA Board has made its position on this matter very clear. It has answered this question in the past and will continue to answer it in the same way. BCWA will not solely fund the interconnection.

An interconnection to the Pawtucket system would benefit East Providence for the same reasons that it would benefit BCWA, maybe more so. The pipeline from Providence serving East Providence was built in the 1960s so it is even older than the BCWA line. In fact, East Providence officials first proposed the idea of an interconnect with Pawtucket. The State Water Resources Board has reviewed and supports this project.

As with all major infrastructure projects, this would be an expensive undertaking. However, in recognition that water supply is a critical component of everyday life, the state has in place funding programs to assist water authorities. BCWA had developed a funding scenario that included state matching funds, a bond referendum and contributions from East Providence and BCWA.

In promoting this project and funding scenario, the BCWA provided extensive information to local and state elected officials and also conducted a “Tri-Council” meeting, which included a detailed presentation. The BCWA has fully and completely answered all questions raised about this project and will continue to do so.

Although the bond question was not approved to be put on November's ballot, the BCWA remains committed to completing an interconnection with Pawtucket. The Pawtucket Water Supply Board has recently completed construction of an entirely new, state-of-the-art advanced water treatment facility. It has a safe yield of 22 million gallons per day and a demand of only 8 million gallons per day. Pawtucket has excess supply and treatment capacity and would welcome an interconnection with BCWA and East Providence.

From the financial, water quality, engineering and policy perspectives, an interconnection with Pawtucket is unequivocally the best alternative supply source for BCWA.

BCWA is completely dependent on a single source of water supply. It is a very good supply but comes via a steel pipeline buried under the Providence River 16 years ago. The supply services 60 percent of the state from a single treatment plant. Our residents and businesses are at risk as there would be significant problems it there were to be an interruption of our water supply due to problems with the pipeline buried under the river or with the treatment plant in Scituate or with the reservoirs there.

The BCWA strongly believes we need to have redundancy in supply and will continue to work toward making the interconnection with Pawtucket a reality.

Pam Marchand

Executive Director

Bristol County Water Authority


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