EPA will conduct more testing on North Smithfield wells

EPA will conduct more testing on North Smithfield wells

Town orders study on extending water lines

NORTH SMITHFIELD – Tests conducted by the Environmental Protection Agency in 2016 revealed contaminants beyond the legal limit for drinking at two wells on Old Great Road, results that have led the agency to authorize another round of testing in the area.

The Town Council last week made one small move in hopes to address the problem, ordering a study on the possibility of expanding the town’s system to deliver water to the affected homes.

“There were two wells contaminated with volatile organics above drinking water standards,” said Meghan Cassidy, head of the superfund site assessment program for the EPA, who noted that her agency tested around eight in the area last year.

The findings add to what appears to be a growing problem in a section of town on the Massachusetts border. Contamination was found in water samples collected from three drinking water wells on nearby Mechanic Street by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management in 2004, and a well survey conducted by the town of North Smithfield in 2015 detected an additional contaminated well on the road.

Just over the town line in Millville, Mass., three wells along Providence Street were determined to have been impacted by chemicals PCE and TCE in 2015, prompting the federal agency to get involved in the interstate issue.

“Our role is to take a step back and to look for a potential source,” noted EPA spokesperson Emily Bender. The agency, she noted, has been working closely with the RIDEM.

One group of residents in Millville have pointed to a property at 171 Central St., where they say hazardous materials are buried. It was the discovery of material from a historically contaminated site in Milford, Mass. – a McDonald’s that had been polluted by a neighboring Shell gas station – that first prompted many in that Massachusetts neighborhood to order their own water tests.

But Cassidy notes that the Central Street lot is just one of many being looked at as a potential source. A report published in 2015 identified 20 plus possible sites, she said, where the problem could have originated.

“What we’ve done in the last year or so is focus efforts on parcels close to the Massachusetts border,” Cassidy said.

In the coming weeks, Cassidy said her agency will begin testing additional wells along Mechanic Street. A preliminary assessment report on the issue is expected in the upcoming months.

“These are very preliminary investigations of sites,” Cassidy said. “We’re not seeing significant patterns yet. We’re continuing to look.”

Cassidy said her agency has been providing information to the town to help make determinations as to whether or not public water should be extended to the area. On Mechanic Street and Old Great Road, homeowners are drinking bottled water provided by RIDEM while the town investigates the possibility.

Town Administrator Gary Ezovski recommended last week that the North Smithfield Town Council commission a study on expansion of the town’s system.

“If you’re aware of the concerns for water on the north end of our town... that is one place where this would be a benefit,” Ezovski said.

It is the second time the town commissioned a study on the possibility of expansion to help residents in the Mechanic Street homes. The project went out to bid in 2015 and three companies submitted proposals ranging from around $6,700 to $15,000.

“The homes that may require service in the future are located on the north side of Mechanic Street approximately east of High View Drive to as far as Connector Road or Old Great Road,” a submission by bidder Horsley Witten Group notes. “The option being considered is that the town may wish to install an 8-inch water main on Mechanic Street from approximately Dorr Drive easterly approximately 1/2 a mile, running across the intersection of High View Avenue to Connector Road.”

Ezovski noted that the study will also provide town officials with a way to back up requests to have developers extend lines to create loops in the system.

Currently the town’s water system consists of around 400 service connections, with all water purchased from neighboring Woonsocket. The town once had its own system, providing water to some 1,500 residents through a network of groundwater wells, but that was discontinued in 2006 as the city began to supply water.

“We’re completely dependent upon that resource at this point,” said Ezovski, saying he would like to look at putting a former town water source known as the Tifft Road Well back online.

The council unanimously approved a resolution for “pursuit of bids by Slatersville Water Company for creation of computer model of the water system to allow insights for expansion of the system as needed.”

Ezovski noted that funding for the study was available in last year’s budget.

“It’s a very good investment in our future system,” he said.


Does our town randomly test wells in different sections of town?

“We’re completely dependent upon that resource at this point,” said Ezovski, saying he would like to look at putting a former town water source known as the Tifft Road Well back online.

YIKES! The town is already dealing with contaminated wells and Mr. Ezovski wants to double down by reactivating the Tifft Road well that is in close proximity to the LR&R Superfund site.

Towns dependent on ground water wells versus reservoirs are forever having problems with droughts, contamination, etc.

Expand the water lines, but forget building wells!

Has the agency or any town personnel done any canvassing as to cancer rates in the entire area?? Who just may have died from rare cancers?? Possible link to these toxic agents in the well water.

Has an agency or town official done any canvassing of the number of lighting strikes the same area? Good grief, has paranoia run rampart in town?
I'm going with Gary Ezovski' knows more about the topic of water safety than anyone else in town if not the state or NE Region!

George Hemond

Common sense tells us not to tap a well at a Superfund site.It's not paranoia

Just follow Gary. He knows what we want and if he doesn't, he just asks our group.

Oh, and I think you meant rampant. A rampart is a defensive fortification. But now that you mention it, we could use some of those too! Protect us from neighboring towns!

Subsurface water flow is not a simple subject but there are some basic reasons why most of North Smithfield can and will long rely on groundwater as a drinking water source. Twenty years of my engineering career were spent in work to understand groundwater flow to correct groundwater problems. I won't claim to have every answer but if people would like to talk about why groundwater can be a long term source of drinking water I will be happy to do that almost anytime. Call me in the office at town hall or at home.

The Tift road well could be the fountain of youth, because it sit near the superfund site nobody wants to use it.We can put perfume on a pig but it's still a pig

This is nothing more than a conspiracy by China. The media is the enemy. Now that Scott Pruitt is on the job at EPA, watch how fast this gets resolved. We’re going to get this resolved so fast. People are already telling me the water in that neighborhood has the best ratings in New England. Just remember the problem in this country is over-regulation. And this whole clean water thing is so over-rated. Besides, what’s wrong with bottled water anyway? It’s a growing American industry with good paying jobs. Next on my list are those freedom-hating air traffic “controllers” over at FAA. So controlling. Sad. We don’t need bureaucrats telling pilots when to stop and go. They’re perfectly capable of exercising a little tarmac courtesy when taking off and landing. Geesh. What have we come to in this country?

Ronaldjdump, dude, how do people like you pull national politics into a small town local water issue? Seriously, take off the tin foil hat. You're cracking me up!