Customer Service

Bills change according to water usage, which fluctuates from month to month. Many customers increase their water consumption in the summer months by using water cooled air conditioning, watering gardens, washing cars, filling swimming pools, etc.

A drastic increase in consumption could be an indication that a problem at a property exists and should be inspected for leaks by checking all plumbing, fixtures and water appliances. A quick check would be to turn off all appliances and fixtures that use water and check the small red or blue arrow or dial on the face of the meter. If there is any movement, even slightly, you may have a leak. If you can isolate the leak to a fixture, typically a toilet, contact a plumbing professional for assistance, otherwise, call the BCWA.

You’ve probably heard that BCWA bills are high compared to other water utilities. This can vary based on how the comparisons are made. Due mainly to water conservation efforts, BCWA customers use about 41 gallons of water per person per day, compared to other water utilities where usage may be higher than 100 gallons per person per day. Should other water utilities’ consumption drop closer to that of the BCWA, they would need a significant rate increase to continue to operate their system. Furthermore, the low usage causes the BCWA to flush the system more often to maintain good water quality.

In addition, the BCWA is still paying for bonds used to finance the construction of the Cross-Bay Pipeline that brings a reliable water supply from Providence. That cost adds $157 per customer to the typical annual water bill, which other utilities do not have to pass on. An additional $33 per customer per year is for various capital projects to improve water quality, infrastructure upgrades, and increase operation efficiency.

Actual readings are obtained each day via the automated meter reading (AMR) system. If the meter transmission unit (MTU) is not functioning, you will receive an estimated bill based on previous usage. If your property is equipped with the AMR system and you receive an estimated bill, please call the Customer Service Department at 508-245-2022

Bills change according to water usage, which fluctuates as a result of a number of things, including the number of people who live at a property. Everyone has different personal water habits that will affect the amount of water used in a given month, and water consumption may vary from season to season. Many customers increase their water consumption in the summer months by using water cooled air conditioning, watering gardens, washing cars, filling swimming pools, etc.

Bills may also fluctuate based on the number of days in a billing period. The Bristol County Water Authority bills every quarter, however, on occasion a bill can be over or under the 90 day period.

Most bills are based on actual readings, while estimated bills are based on usage history.

You should visit our Operations Department at 472 Child Street, Warren, RI.

Current service connection fees are as follows:

  • ¾” Service Installation in Unpaved Street – $1,300.00
  • ¾” Service Installation in Paved Street – $2,500.00
  • 1″ Service Installation in Unpaved Street – $1,600.00
  • 1″ Service Installation in Paved Street – $3,000.00
  • Service Installation over 1″ – Actual Cost
  • 3/4″ or 1″ Service Installation requiring either cement-base restoration or curb-to-curb paving – Actual Cost

For further help, please contact our Operations Department at (401) 245-1856.

If you will be away for an extended period of time, you may call BCWA’s Customer Service Division at 401-245-2022, to shut off the water service at your property.

Once the water service is shut off, all faucets should be completely drained. In addition, you should notify BCWA of your forwarding address, so that you may receive your water bill.

If you are moving, it is necessary to update the mailing address on your account by contacting the Customer Service Division of the Bristol County Water Authority at 401-245-2022.

Faucets – Check all faucets and piping for leaks by monitoring for drips of water under sinks and from exposed pipes. Perform an inspection with the water on and off, as some leaks only occur when the water is on.

Toilets – Add a few drops of food coloring in the toilet tank. If the food coloring appears in the toilet bowl, this means you have a leak. Some toilet leaks are intermittent, so you don’t always see or hear the water running. Check plumbing in the basement by monitoring for drips of water coming from exposed pipes. Occasionally, leaks develop behind walls or in areas that are not visible.   Read your meter periodically to monitor for drastic changes.

Your meter is usually located in the basement.  On your meter face is a red or blue triangle.  If no water is being used, your triangle will be still.  If the small triangle is rotating, then water is being drawn from somewhere in your building.


Bills change according to water usage, which can fluctuate based on personal water habits. You can lower the water consumption at your property by installing water saving devices or following some simple conservation tips.


General Water Questions

Do not use an open flame to thaw a frozen pipe. This is not only a fire hazard, it could also cause a steam explosion. Use a hair dryer or heat lamp to thaw a frozen pipe, and open a nearby faucet to release vapor from melting ice. When pipes are frozen, there is often water available at one faucet but not another. If there is no water at all, the problem may be in the street. Call the BCWA’s Operations Division at 401-245-1856 or 401-245-5071.

Call immediately at this number – 401-245-1856 or 401-245-5071, to report what you’re experiencing.

It is the responsibility of the property owner to protect the service pipe and water meter from freezing. If your meter does freeze, the BCWA will replace the meter, and your account will be assessed a meter replacement fee. If the service pipe freezes, it is the owner’s responsibility to thaw the frozen pipe or consult a licensed plumber.

Tips on preventing your pipes from freezing:

  • Insulate water meter and pipes in unheated spaces like garages, basements, and crawl spaces.
  • Additionally, insulating hot water pipes will decrease your wait time for warm water.
  • Repair broken and cracked windows, doors, and walls. Close all doors and windows near pipes, and make sure there is no draft.
  • During cold weather (prolonged temperatures below 32 degrees), allow a slow trickle of water to flow through faucets connected to water pipes that run through unheated spaces.
  • Disconnect garden hoses, and install covers on all outside faucets.
  • Shut off water to outside faucets, and drain those water lines.

Lead in Faucets and Service Pipes

Lead contamination from lead-based paint, dirt, and dust accounts for most of the exposure. Lead from drinking water can make up to 20 percent of a person’s total exposure to lead.

The Rhode Island Department of Public Health has information at

The NSF certifies plumbing fixtures, water filters, and bottled water and can be reached at 1-800-NSF-MARK or through their website at

The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) website on lead in drinking water:

Responding to recent regulations, faucet manufacturers have decreased or eliminated the lead in residential kitchen faucets, bathroom faucets, bar faucets, drinking fountains, and ice-makers. Starting January 4, 2014, all faucets will be produced with no more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead with respect to the wetted surface. The national standard for certifying plumbing fixtures “lead free” status is determined by the National Sanitary Foundation (NSF) – the standard is International Standard 61-Section 9. New faucets meeting the NSF 61 standard will have NSF 61/9 stamped on the new faucet’s cardboard box.

For more information on lead-free fixtures including catalogs and website directories, contact NSF at 1-800-NSF-MARK or

The most cost effective ways to minimize lead exposure from drinking water are:

  • Flush faucets used for drinking and cooking for several minutes until cold in the morning or after coming home from school/work to insure fresh water from the main in the street and flushing out any contaminates from the household plumbing
  • Use only cold water for drinking and cooking
  • Get your water tested if concerned. Be sure that only valves and filters intended for drinking water supply are used in any home plumbing project.

In extreme cases, older faucets can contribute up to one-third of the lead in water that has been sitting in the pipes for several hours, with the remainder coming from other plumbing such as pre-1988 lead solder joints in copper pipes or a lead service line.

The water supply is lead free and the pipes that carry the water to your street are made of cast iron, ductile iron or concrete, and do not add lead to the water. However, lead can get into tap water through a lead service line connecting your house to the pipe in the street, or pipes in the home, lead solder used in plumbing, and some brass fixtures. Corrosion or wearing away of lead based materials can add lead to tap water, especially if water sits for a long time in the pipes before use.

Few lead services were installed in the BCWA water system, and have since been removed. Even so, the BCWA is on a constant look-out for any lead on the homeowner’s side of the connection when we inspect or change meters. We are currently investigating galvanized iron services (about 190 in our system), that may have had a lead connector.

Even though our test levels for lead are very low or non-detectable, we will remove any lead found in the BCWA system. However, the homeowner owns a piece of the service line from the property line into the house. This pipe is the owner’s responsibility. Should the BCWA determine the service line is not copper or not in good condition upon inspection, the BCWA will recommend replacement.

Federal and State lead regulations do not cover hose bibs, bathtub fixtures, shower heads, and industrial faucets.

Most faucets purchased prior to 1997 were constructed of brass or chrome-plated brass, which contain up to 8 percent lead (the main metals in brass are copper and zinc). Water sitting for several hours or overnight in a brass faucet can leach lead from the brass faucet interior which may produce high lead levels in the first draw of drinking water. Later regulations mandated that most faucets purchased after 1997 contain less lead than previously used thereby reducing the possible leaching of lead. However, the most recent legislation, called “Get the Lead Out,” mandates that after January 4, 2014, all faucets purchased will contain no more than a weighted average of 0.25 percent lead in relation to wetted surface.

Some faucet manufactures produce plastic faucets that have virtually zero lead. Other manufactures are substituting other metals for the lead in the brass, inserting copper tubes inside the brass faucets, or applying special coatings on the inside of the faucets in order to minimize or eliminate lead leaching. With the recent legislation, more and more faucet manufacturers are advertising faucets that adhere to the new “lead-free” definition allowing a maximum of 0.25 percent lead.

Water Quality

Let your cold water run for a few minutes until it clears up.  If it does not clear up after a few minutes call BCWA’s Operations Division at 401-245-5071.

Category: Water Quality