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Council backs plan to improve East Providence's emergency water connections

Would upgrade, add existing hookups with Pawtucket’s supply if ever needed

By Mike Rego
Posted 5/22/20

EAST PROVIDENCE — The City Council at its May 19 meeting backed a bid award presented by the administration of Mayor Bob DaSilva, earmarked for a project to improve East Providence’s …

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Council backs plan to improve East Providence's emergency water connections

Would upgrade, add existing hookups with Pawtucket’s supply if ever needed

Posted

EAST PROVIDENCE — The City Council at its May 19 meeting backed a bid award presented by the administration of Mayor Bob DaSilva, earmarked for a project to improve East Providence’s existing water supply with Pawtucket in case of emergency or necessity.

According to Director of Public Works Steve Coutu, the plan calls for enhancing a current connection with Pawtucket at Pawtucket Avenue as well as upgrading one located on Narragansett Parkway at the border of the two municipalities. The project also includes similar work on an underground valve which regulates flow of water on the city’s main pipeline coming in from Providence.

Director Coutu noted, upon completion of an engineering study previously approved by the council back in February, the city received four bids for the project in April and that officials recommended accepting one given by Biszko Contracting Corp. The director call the Biszko bid a “very competitive price” of $714,297.

Money for the project already exists in the Fiscal Year 2019-20 budget, Water Utility Fund under the general infrastructure improvement account line item.

Director Coutu further explained the project provides the city with “two emergency interconnects with Pawtucket” and would be pulled into service “if and only if” a problem occurred with East Providence’s main line from Providence.

As he did during earlier discussions on the project, the director said the city currently has no way to control the flow of water from the Pawtucket connection. Director Coutu previously said the last time East Providence was forced to use it, when the Providence system suffered a severe break in the mid 1990s, pipes in Rumford ruptured due to excessive pressure.

The director continued, the recent difficulties the Bristol County Water Authority has had made the project a priority. BCWA, which serves as a back-up system for East Providence and visa versa, had a significant leak in its pipeline connecting it with the Scituate Reservoir supply. The remedy included reducing the size of its main line, which limits its ability to support East Providence if necessary.

Water Supervisor Jim Marvel, when queried about the overall scope of the project, explained it came about from the necessity to have an auxiliary supply in order for the city to inspect its main feed running under Narragansett Bay. The near six-decade-old pipe has long been a concern of local officials, its sustainability a question due to the composition of the material it was made from and its location in the bay.

Of the urgency to connect with Pawtucket, Mr. Marvel continued, “It’s always been an issue with the amount (of water) we get from Bristol County, and now that amount has gotten smaller. To take the risk to take down (the main) pipeline line for inspection, we need to be able to supplement with a water supply.”

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Mike Rego

Mike Rego has worked at East Bay Newspapers since 2001, helping the company launch The Westport Shorelines. He soon after became a Sports Editor, spending the next 10-plus years in that role before taking over as editor of The East Providence Post in February of 2012. To contact Mike about The Post or to submit information, suggest story ideas or photo opportunities, etc. in East Providence, email mrego@eastbaymediagroup.com.