Cumberland-Woonsocket water link pushes forward

Cumberland-Woonsocket water link pushes forward

It was back in November of 2002, at a time when worries about terrorism were still very much a front-burner issue for Americans, when the public works departments in Cumberland and Woonsocket began formalizing plans to link their water systems.

The state's Water Resources Board was offering 50 percent reimbursement to fund emergency links between systems that would help circumvent attacks by vandals or the introduction of man-made chemical or biological contaminates.

Eleven years later, the connection has yet to be completed, although public works directors in Cumberland and Woonsocket think the finish line is near.

As it turned out, a difference in hydraulics required two connections.

The first, through a metering station in the Highland Park at the town/city line, will bring water from Woonsocket into Cumberland.

That's more than 95 percent ready to use, if needed, according to Cumberland's Public Works Director Alan Brodd.

Just a gas line connection is still need to power the generator.

Cumberland's Town Council in 2009 authorized up to $650,000 on this link of which 50 percent will be reimbursed by the state once both connections are completed.

The cost will be borne by water customers only, says Brodd, and has been factored into the current rate.

Annual payments over 20 years will total $50,000, according to the resolution.

The second connection, through a metering station on Mendon Road, will pump water from Cumberland to Woonsocket, but won't be completed until well into next year, says Woonsocket Public Works Director Sheila McGauvran.

Woonsocket took a step forward last week when the city's Budget Commission approved a plan to finalize and issue the bid request.

Also planned is what's been called a "cross-country connection" that will link Woonsocket's high service storage tanks in the industrial park and on Diamond Hill Road. She said the connector will provide an added level of security in Woonsocket and notes that the Diamond Hill tank leaked for days before it was noticed, jeopardizing the city's water supply, because the water was flowing into a brook rather than flooding the ground.

McGauvran says her department is in the process of securing an easement for the cross-country pipeline. The state Department of Environmental Management won't approve the project until that's in place, she said.

That's expected to take most of the winter with late-winter bidding and construction next spring and summer.

Woonsocket is investing $1 million on its portion of the project after the 50 percent reimbursement is realized, McGauvran said.

Woonsocket Finance Director Thomas Bruce told The Breeze that as in Cumberland, the loan will be paid over 20 years and has already been factored into the rate with the approval of the Public Utilities Commission.