Scituate Reservoir
© Photo by Butch Lombardi

BCWA obtains all of our water supply from the Providence Water Supply Board’s Scituate Reservoir. The Scituate, along with 4 small reservoirs, contains 41 billion gallons of high quality water. The Providence Water Supply Board actively manages the watershed to protect the quality of the water that flows into the reservoirs through its forestry management and resident education programs, involvement in Town zoning and permitting, and with patrols that monitor activities and restrict access.

Providence Water treats the supply at the Holton Water Treatment Plant in Hope, RI. The plant process utilizes conventional sand and anthracite filtration, using iron sulfate as a coagulant (to bring fine particles together for filtration). The plant is capable of filtering 140 million gallons per day, and produces an average of 65 million gallons per day. Built in 1926, the plant has had major upgrades in the 1940’s and 1960’s. It is presently undergoing a $40 million renovation to improve the filtering system.

For more information on the Providence treatment system and water quality report go to:

In 1998 the Bristol County Water Authority completed the cross-bay pipeline to connect to the Providence Water supply. To obtain state matching funds for the construction, the Authority was mandated to maintain the Massachusetts supplies and the Child St. water treatment plant, with the state to pay for any major upgrades required to meet water quality regulations. The water quality from the Massachusetts supplies was very difficult to treat, and the BCWA struggled to operate the 1908 treatment plant to meet changing regulations. The state did finance improvements to the plant processes, but the plant could not keep up with the increasingly stricter water quality regulations. Operation of the plant was discontinued in July 2011. The plant is being maintained as a back-up supply until an alternate supply is available.

The Authority had investigated a connection with the Pawtucket Water Supply Board in partnership with the East Providence Water Department. Pawtucket Water obtains their supply from the Cumberland reservoirs in northern Rhode Island, another source of excellent quality water. They recently constructed a new water treatment plant, storage, and transmission piping.

BCWA and East Providence Water obtained a matching grant from the state for the study of a pipe route, water quality issues, and expected costs. The BCWA share of the $225,000 study was $56,250, and was completed in September, 2013. The total cost of engineering and construction for the Pawtucket pipeline including Pawtucket, East Providence, and the BCWA was estimated to be $27 MM.

It was planned to obtain matching funds for the construction through the RI Water Resource Board’s water system interconnection program. This requires a state bond, which was not successful in the 2014 legislative session. In addition, East Providence has determined not to move forward with the project at this time.

In 2016, the BCWA is installing an emergency connection with the East Providence 16” water adjacent to the BCWA Providence Water connection in East Providence. This will supply 2 million gallons per day (MGD) in an emergency. (Average day use is 3.4 MGD).

The BCWA Board approved moving forward on the design for Phase 1 of the Pawtucket pipeline project: a 24” water main from the BCWA Providence Water connection in East Providence to the East Providence water tank. This would provide up to 6 million gallons of water per day should the BCWA East Bay pipeline be shut down for an emergency. However, this would be from the East Providence connection to Providence Water and not a separate supply. The design is to be completed by the end of 2016.

The Board has not yet approved moving forward with this project without matching funds from the state and/or East Providence. An emergency interconnection with Swansea Water District is in process, with about 1 MGD available.

The BCWA will request our legislators to propose a bond for water utility infrastructure improvements for the 2018 legislative session. If the bond is successful, it is intended to request the State Water Resources Board for matching funds to construct the Pawtucket pipeline.