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Water Board Seeks Political 'Clout' For Its New Strategic Plan

The new plan from the Bristol County Water Authority seeks a backup supply of water from Pawtucket instead of Massachusetts and upgrades to the entire water system.

The Bristol County Water Authority needs help from the town councils in Barrington, Warren and Bristol and the county’s state legislators to implement its first-ever “strategic plan,” which seeks an alternate supply of water from Pawtucket and upgrades to the entire water system.

That was the focus of an 8 am session on Tuesday, Dec. 11, at the water authority’s offices in Warren.

Executive Director Pamela Marchand made the pitch – but it was heard only by 2 of the 15 town councilors and Barrington Town Manager Peter DeAngelis Jr. No legislators attended.

“What do we need to do?” said Barrington Town Councilor Bill DeWitt, the only one from Barrington to attend the session. Edward Stuart attended from Bristol.

“At the least, support a resolution to the legislature that amends the Bristol County Water Supply Act,” said Marchand. “It’s important that the three towns endorse what we do.”

Specifically, the BCWA wants the act amended so that it no longer needs to maintain an alternate supply of water from Massachusetts. But it also wants the $6.9 million set aside by the state for the water authority to maintain that supply to be shifted to the BCWA’s cost of setting up a new interconnection through East Providence to Pawtucket.

Marchand said the board would use that cash to cover its 25 percent share of the cost of the interconnection, estimated at around $20 million. Whether that cash can be used to tie into Pawtucket remains in limbo right now, she said.

Ken Burke, of the RI Water Resources Board, who also attended the session, agreed. He said the money is earmarked specifically for maintaining the water authority’s Massachusetts supply. Whether it can be shifted is being assessed by bond attorneys right now.

A key step, though, in developing an alternate supply route from Pawtucket requires the water act to be modified, Marchand said.

The water authority’s infrastructure also needs to be upgraded, she said.

“We’ve underinvested to keep rates lower,” Marchand said.

The system includes 100-year-old cast iron pipes that, fortunately, “are very thick" so they can be cleaned of talcum powder-like rust that has built up inside, and then lined with concrete, she said.

But that will require new capital over the next 20 years. Much of that capital will have to come from rate increases of around 12 percent across the board next year and 3 to 4 percent a year after that.

“That’s about $5 a month for the average customer,” she said, who right now spends about $476 a year for water – the highest rate in the state.

The board will be holding a public hearing on the BCWA’s proposed rate increases next Thursday, Dec. 20, at the water authority headquarters.

Gary Morse December 11, 2012 at 08:06 PM
We have the new board of directors to thank for finally completing this initiative, and a special thanks to Director Robert Allio. The key phrase in this article is: "its first-ever strategic plan". A question must be asked - If the "plan" was statutorily mandated as far back as 1993 under the Bristol County Water Supply Act, where was the legal advice on behalf of rate payers from BCWA attorney Sandra Mack during that period to make "the plan" happen? It appears rate payers were paying for mandate avoidance advice during this period (at a legal rate of $475 per hour)?
marina peterson December 11, 2012 at 09:51 PM
Well, it appears that the "east Bay Four" were NOTwhistling in the dark. In my opinion, until the proposed legislative changes are made-- you know, the ones that were ratified by all three towns last May that significantly altered the way the BCWA operates - nothing else should be approved by the three towns. How can they even consider asking for another resolution when they have not passed the resolution that was requested by all three towns---- last year! I believe that most of that money came from a bond ratified by the voters for a specific purpose. Is it possible to just use if for something other than it was intended for? Now, the BIG question. WAS THIS VERY IMPORTANT MEETING VIDEO-TAPED and, if so, what is the link?
Lorraine F December 12, 2012 at 10:24 AM
179 comments on the marijuana legislation story, 2 on the water we drink. I'm beginning to believe the Mayan Calendar was right predicting the world would end in 2012, but the actual date was November 6th, not December 21st.

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