Why is there a need for a secondary water supply?
Currently, 100% of our water (3.31 million gallons per day) is supplied from the Scituate Reservoir through Providence Water. It reaches us via BCWA’s East Bay Pipeline, which is located under Narragansett Bay. While the quality and quantity of this water are excellent, and our utility infrastructure remains strong, there is significant risk in relying solely on one supply. We would not be able to adequately meet your business, residential water needs or fire protection if:
- Providence Water suffered a loss or reduction in supply due to infrastructure failure, contamination, or other factors
- Our East Bay Pipeline experiences damage to its infrastructure
Why is connecting to Pawtucket the best solution?
An extensive engineering and costing study has concluded that a pipeline to Pawtucket Water is the most effective and cost-efficient option for an alternative water supply.
- Pawtucket’s new, state-of-the-art system can yield 22 million gallons of treated water per day and has ample supply to support BCWA customer needs of 3.31 million gallons a day.
- Water quality is excellent.
- The cost of connecting to Pawtucket is estimated at $25 million, with only routine maintenance required thereafter (far more cost-effective than other solutions explored). Some people have suggested that we should use the shallow reservoir system that we drew from many years ago as the secondary source of water. However, this is not a viable option as that water is:
- Not of sufficient quantity
- Is very poor quality (able to provide non-potable water only) and requires extensive treatment
- Located in Massachusetts, where we do not own the reservoirs and are subject to local regulatory control
Additionally, water processing for the BCWA was conducted through a treatment plant originally built in 1908, which has since become obsolete and been decommissioned. The cost of building a new plant is significantly more costly than the connection to Pawtucket.
What are the pipeline design and construction details?
The new 24” water main connecting the BCWA directly to the Pawtucket system would provide us with four million gallons of water per day. This two-phase construction project would last approximately six years.
- Phase I (two years) would go from our Providence connection to the vicinity of the East Providence water tank. Construction of Phase I of the project will begin in the spring of 2021.
- Phase II (four years) would continue on to the Pawtucket city line and to Pawtucket Water Supply Board.
How will this project be financed?
More than half of the $25 million is already in our long-range capital budget and would be funded by bonds sold by the BCWA which would be repaid over their term from revenue from the sale of water to our customers. State or federal bonds or grants may help reduce cost increases to our customers.
The City of East Providence is considering joining us in this project. If they do, project costs would be split and the pipeline would be sized to provide water to both systems.
On April 20, 2017, the BCWA board of directors, supported by the Barrington, Bristol, and Warren Town Councils, voted to move forward with constructing a much-needed secondary water supply to support the needs of our customers. The new pipeline will connect to the Pawtucket Water Supply and supplement our existing source from the Providence’s Water Supply from the Scituate Reservoir. On August 27, 2020, the BCWA awarded a contract to construct the first portion of the project to C.B. Utility, Inc.
Construction of the Pipeline