The Bristol County Water Authority purchased the Bristol County Water Company on November 25, 1986. The Authority was formed in 1984 to solve the water problems which persisted in Bristol County for many years. The private company was incorporated in 1883 as the Bristol and Warren Water Works. The Barrington Water Company, incorporated in 1887, was acquired in 1933 and the following year the name was changed to Bristol County Water Company.
The Authority supplies potable water to Bristol County which is 25 square miles in area. The system lies southeast of the City of Providence at the northern end of Narragansett Bay. The community is largely residential in nature with some light industrial and commercial development. Bristol County is close to several major highways (I-95 and I-195) which provide easy access to Providence, Cape Cod and Boston.
The towns served by the Authority are Bristol, Warren and Barrington, Rhode Island. The estimated population served over 49,000. The number of customers served over 17,000. The Authority has experienced limited but steady customer growth in recent years. All customers are metered.
The Authority’s administrative offices are located at 450 Child Street, Warren, Rhode Island. The Distribution Department operates from facilities at 472 Child Street, Warren, Rhode Island. The average demand is about 3.5 million gallons per day (MGD). Demand has remained stable over the past several years.
Since December 1998, treated water is purchased from the Providence Water Supply Board and conveyed to Bristol County through the East Bay Pipeline. The construction of the Pipeline was a major undertaking which started in 1988 and was completed 10 years later in 1998 for the purpose of carrying additional but much needed drinking water across Narragansett Bay from the City of Providence to Bristol County.
Until 2011, raw water was obtained from four impounding reservoirs: Kickemuit, Swansea, Anawan and Shad Factory, which have a combined storage capacity of 460 million gallons. Raw water was treated at the Child Street Treatment Plant in Warren. In 2011 the water treatment plant, which was originally constructed in the 1800’s, was shut down for numerous reasons. Among the top issue is that fact that it would cost $60 million to bring the plant up to modern standards. The supply would only provide 1.5 to 1.7 million gallons per day of non-potable water, which is insufficient in quantity and quality to serve BCWA’s customer base.
As such, the plant has been decommissioned and total system supply is being supplied from the Providence connection. Emergency water connections are also established with East Providence and Swansea; and BCWA is moving forward to establish a fully redundant second supply with the Pawtucket Water Supply Board through the construction of its Pawtucket pipeline.