Why is there a need for a secondary water supply?
Currently, 100% of our water (3.2 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 or a leak similar to what occurred in 2019.
- The East Bay Pipeline is installed in bedrock, 160 feet below the surface of the Providence River. In 2019, this pipeline experienced a significant leak of 400,000 gallons per day. In order to repair the leak the pipeline needed to be shutdown for two months and BCWA relied upon an emergency interconnection with East Providence along with water restrictions. The emergency repair was an unplanned expense of $4 million. The repair solution was lining the 24-inch pipeline with a smaller diameter 18-inch liner pipe.
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 updated water treatment plant system can yield 22 million gallons of high-quality water per day and has ample supply to support BCWA customer needs of 3.2 million gallons a day.
The City of East Providence also relies upon a single pipeline from the Providence Water System that crosses under the Providence River. Given that their pipeline was installed in the 1960s, it may be vulnerable to a leak or failure. As such, the City of East Providence also has an interest in having a pipeline connection with the Pawtucket Water System.
What are the pipeline design and construction details?
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 November 15, 2017, the BCWA Board awarded an engineering contract to Beta Group for the Pawtucket Pipeline Project.
Given the size and scope, the project was envisioned to be designed and constructed in two phases.
Phase I is an approximate 1.5 mile, 24-inch pipe connection that runs from the BCWA main pipeline in Pawtucket Avenue in East Providence to the East Providence transmission main at the East Providence water storage tank facilities at Kent Heights.
Phase II is an approximate 5 mile, 30-inch pipe connection that runs from the East Providence connection at the water storage facilities to a connection with the Pawtucket Water System near the East Providence/Pawtucket line.
On August 27, 2020, the BCWA awarded a contract to construct Phase I of the project to C.B. Utility, Inc. for $6.9 million. The project has been completed and the pipeline was activated in mid-June of 2022. The final construction contract cost was $5.9 million ($1 million less than the initial contract value).
Phase II of the project is currently in design. The engineering design and permitting for the installation of 5 miles of 30-inch pipe through the City of East Providence to Pawtucket will be challenging. The project has recently completed the 30% design stage. Given the recent cost escalations in materials and construction, the preliminary cost estimates for this project are approaching $50 million.
How will this project be financed?
The BCWA 10-year Capital Plan accounts for the bonding necessary to fund such a large project. Bonds sold by the BCWA 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. Additionally, 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. The City of East Providence has agreed to cost-share with the BCWA for the design costs of $1.5 million.
Construction of the Pipeline