Question to Senator Felag on Water Pressure Issues in Bristol

There are numerous water pressure issues around town in Bristol and yet again BCWA is raising water rates yet again.  These problems have plagued the town for many years without infrastructure improvements.

Many residents have raised concerns to the town officials and have not received answers on a timeframe for remediation of these issues.

I am reaching out to you on behalf of the residents of Bristol.

Is BCWA regulated by any governing body to oversee projects,  rate increases etc ?

It’s 2020 not the 1900’s.  Water is a basic necessity.

Please look into this on behalf of the residents.


I’d like to address the first comment – we are always happy to provide water system information…it is our favorite topic!  We do post info on our website and send out informational letters to all customers.  So for anyone interested in a particular issue – PLEASE CALL 401-245-2022.

And yes, the higher elevations in Bristol and the southern end of Warren experience low pressure issues.  The homes built in these areas were developed (often over the objection of the BCWA) after the water system infrastructure was established for the majority of the water system.  The remedy is long term and expensive.  Meanwhile, customers experiencing low pressure were allowed to install individual pump systems.

The area along Metacom Ave is generally above an elevation of 90 feet above sea level.    Except for a small area near Hopeworth Ave (90’ to 160’ elevation served by a separate elevated tank and a small pump station), the water system pump stations, tanks and water mains were designed to serve below 90’ elevation.

In order to expand the Hopeworth higher pressure service area, the BCWA needed to replace the pump station at Carr Lane with a much larger one, add another pump station at Hope and Tupelo St, add 12” water mains on Metacom Ave and on a section of Hope St., and interconnect mains throughout the area to be served.

In 2016 a new section of higher pressure main was installed on Metacom Ave from Carr Lane to Robin Ave, and the service area was switched to the higher pressure.  More customers could not be added until the 2 pump stations were in service, new water main installed and water main interconnections completed.

In 2017-2019 the BCWA installed water mains on local streets to provide interconnections for water flow for the change to the higher pressure system.  This is an on-going project.

In 2019 the design for the Hope St pump station began.  However, more property was required, and the BCWA initiated purchase of the corner of Hope and Tupelo St. adjacent to the Hope St. water tank.  The property will be purchased in the next month, with construction to begin this year.

Next year, a 12”  water main extension is planned for Metacom Ave, from Robin Ave to the Stop and Shop.  With the completion of this main, some additional interconnections, and the Hope St. pump station, the higher pressure zone will be expanded to the Tupelo St. area.  If all goes as planned, this will take place in 2022.   Additional water main is planned to be added to Metacom Ave, Hope St.,  and a number of local streets through 2025 to complete the project.

The costs are significant:  $2.5MM per pump station, $1.8MM per mile of pipe on the state roads and $1.4MM per mile on town roads, which is paid by all of the water system’s customers.

Over this period of time, the BCWA has installed and renovated water mains throughout the distribution system in all 3 towns, renovated the pump station in Barrington that provides all of the BCWA supply from Providence, repaired our water supply main from Providence ($4MM),  designed a new water main to East Providence to be installed this year ($6MM), constructed the new pump station at Carr Lane, added treatment systems to the tanks and pump stations, reduced operation costs while increasing system maintenance, and significantly increased the use of technology to improve efficiencies and monitoring.

The BCWA does have a 10 year capital and finance plan.  The rates are designed to finance the capital plan, operations and maintenance, and reserves.  In general, bonds are planned for every 2 years to coincide with the system capital plan.   For example, we obtained a $16.5MM bond last year for 2019’s and this year’s projects.  A $16.5MM bond requires $1.0MM in debt service per year, which represents a 7.5% rate increase.  Another bond will be required in 2021.

The engineering on the Pawtucket Pipeline is underway for construction planned to begin in 2022.  This is an $18MM project if East Providence joins with the BCWA in the construction, $36MM if not.  The BCWA continues to investigate any assistance or financing programs to reduce the expense (including the federal WIFIA loan program).

The BCWA is very conscientious of expenses and rates.  However, the Board of Directors has made it a priority to provide a sustainable high quality water supply and distribution system.  Funding of the Pawtucket Pipeline and the expansion of the high pressure zone are, and have been, of highest importance.

Sorry for the long explanation…  So, yes, we do have a plan and a timetable!  However, the infrastructure will take time and $$ to build – but we are already several years into the project with significant changes coming in 2022.

Project information can also be found on our website at, and you are always welcome to give me a call at 401-649-1874, ext. 18.

Thanks for asking!
Pam Marchand

Response to Senator Felag regarding construction to improve water pressure in Bristol