Bristol County water rates going up 10%

Beginning in March, new rates will pay for repairs and new pipeline

By Ted Hayes
Posted 1/23/20

Bristol County Water Authority customers will pay 10 percent more for their water starting later this winter as the authority seeks to raise funds to pay for the recent East Bay Pipeline repair and …

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Bristol County water rates going up 10%

Beginning in March, new rates will pay for repairs and new pipeline

Posted

Bristol County Water Authority customers will pay 10 percent more for their water starting later this winter as the authority seeks to raise funds to pay for the recent East Bay Pipeline repair and planned pipeline to Pawtucket, and to finance other initiatives.

The authority’s board of directors voted last week to raise rates this coming fiscal year, which for the water authority starts in March.

Executive Director Pamela Marchand said a majority of the planned increase will pay costs associated with the $4 million repair of the East Bay Pipeline under the Providence River, which sprung a leak last April and was repaired just before Thanksgiving. In addition, $6 million is being spent on the first phase of a project to build a new pipeline through East Providence to Pawtucket, as well as engineering costs associated with the second phase in the estimated $37 million project.

In addition, she said, funds are needed to help continue modernization of the BCWA’s distribution and metering system, Ms. Marchand said.

Unlike other years, in which the authority spread out similarly-sized rate increases over several years, Ms. Marchand said board members agreed to institute the 10 percent increase in one fiscal year. At this time, she said it does not appear that significant rate increases over this amount will be needed the following year.

Providence rate hike?

Meanwhile, local officials are mobilizing to oppose a Providence plan to increase its wholesale rate, which it charges the BCWA and other water distributors, by 20.7 percent. Providence, which supplies Bristol County’s water through the East Bay Pipeline, has proposed the rate increase before the Rhode Island Public Utilities Commission. Ms. Marchand said the BCWA opposes the increase, and the authority’s attorney and a paid rate consultant are preparing a case to present before the commission. She is hopeful that efforts to reduce that proposed 20.7 percent hike will be successful.

“We’re assuming we’re going to be able to get that reduced,” she said.

In any case, she said, the impact of any potential Providence increase won’t be known until the PUC finishes its hearings on the matter. Ms. Marchand said hearings will likely take eight months to conclude.

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