East Providence officials should no longer be out of the loop on the Bristol County Water Authority’s plan to build a pipeline through the city to Pawtucket as a second source of water for Barrington, Warren, and Bristol.
The BCWA needs support of the project from E.P. or it could be doomed.
BCWA board chairman Allan Klepper said he had a lunch meeting recently with East Providence’s interim city manager, Paul Lemont, and Steve Coutu, director of the department of public works, under which the city’s water utilities commission operates, to brief them on the $25 million project.
“They are all on board,” said Klepper, who outlined the estimated costs of the pipeline and the financial breakdown for each municipality. “They showed no hesitancy with the project.”
Klepper said he also has attempted to reach the head of the E.P. city council, Mayor James Briden, as well.
“I left a message,” he said. “He hasn’t called me back yet.”
Briden said he contacted Klepper and left a message indicating that he would contact Lemont and ask the city manager to set up the meeting that took place.
Klepper said he has informed the other BCWA board members of his conversations with Lemont and Coutu. No top officials in EP, unless Lemont and Coutu have not yet spoken to the City Councilors about the pipeline project, should be unaware of what is going on at this time, he said.
The lack of awareness of the pipeline project except came to light a few weeks ago when members of the Warren Town Council told two of their board members that the project seemed to be something of a mystery to most high-ranking officials in E.P. No one from E.P., in fact, attended a special board meeting for councilors in all four of the towns, which also raised some eyebrows.
The water authority needs the city’s support to make the pipeline a reality, said BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand after that meeting. Marchand said that the former city manager, who was relieved of his job by the City Council, apparently had not brought the City Council up to speed on the pipeline project.
BCWA also needs East Providence’s okay to build a second underground mixing station near an emergency water station at the Silver Spring Golf Course off of Pawtucket Avenue.
Marchand said the pipeline could help East Providence solve some of it own water problems – such as the aging pipeline from Providence for Scituate Reservoir water. It was built almost 50 years ago with an estimated lifetime of 50 to 60 years.
The next significant step for BCWA on the pipeline, said Klepper, is to get solid cost estimates together to take to legislators in January so the project get son next ballot referendum in November. The state water resources board has committed to paying half of the pipeline costs if the referendum gets approved by voters.
The next BCWA board meeting is Dec. 18. The pipeline project expected to be on the agenda.