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Water Board Makes Case for New Pipeline to Pawtucket

The new pipeline would provide the least costly, higher quality alternative as a second source of water for Bristol, Warren and Barrington, town councilors told.

BCWA chairman Allan Klepper at the CDM-Smith study tri-town council meeting.
BCWA chairman Allan Klepper at the CDM-Smith study tri-town council meeting.

Bristol County’s water board made its case for building a pipeline to Pawtucket for a secondary source of water in front of the Barrington, Warren and Bristol town councils on Wednesday evening, Oct. 16.

The project, to be built as a joint project with East Providence, has an estimated price tag of $20.5 million -- with a few odds and ends still to be determined.

"But the $20.5 million is pretty close," said Allan Klepper of Barrington, chairman of the Bristol County Water Authority board.

The three Bristol County towns would pay 25 percent, E.P. would pay 25 percent and the state would pick up the rest, according to the plan presented to the town councilors at the water authority's headquarters on Child Street in Warren. 

“We need a secondary source,” said BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand. “Our single source (Scituate Reservoir) is a long way from here.”

The water from Pawtucket would be blended with the water from the Providence Water Supply Board at the Nayatt Road pump station in Barrington, according to the plan presented by engineers from CDM-Smith. The firm conducted a study of buying water from Pawtucket for the BCWA board.

The study actually was undertaken to assess the cost and feasibility of creating an emergency interconnection with Pawtucket instead of relying on the reservoirs in Massachusetts that were used for decades as the prime source of water in Bristol County. Those reservoirs became the emergency source when the cross-bay pipeline was built in 1998.

But Pawtucket is now considered a second source of water that would be blended with the Providence-supplied water. The BCWA would buy as least $1 million a year from Pawtucket, which has water to sell.

“It’s the most reasonable, least costly and highest quality alternative,” Marchand said. “And the two Pawtucket reservoirs would supply far more water than would ever be available in Massachusetts.”

Building a new treatment plant to replace the 1908 plant in Warren would cost approximately $40 million by itself, she said.

Two critical steps must be taken before construction would start, said Klepper.

Money for the state’s share must be approved at a referendum put on the election ballot next year, he said. And the legislature must modify the Bristol County Water Act to eliminate the need for the BCWA to continue to maintain the Massachusetts reservoirs. 

That modification could jeopardize about $6.9 million that still sits in an account for the BCWA to maintain the Massachusetts reservoris under the act. The board wants to continue fighting to retain that cash at the same time it wants to build the new pipeline to Pawtucket.

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