Board approves 10% water rate hike for East Bay towns

East Bay

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Residents of Barrington, Warren and Bristol will soon have to pay more for water service after the Bristol County Water Authority (BCWA) voted to increase rates by 10 percent.

The rate hike applies to water used after March 1, 2020.

“We’re looking at under $5 a month for the average customer,” BCWA Executive Director Pamela Marchand said Tuesday.

The towns currently purchase all of their water from the Providence Water Supply Board. After the area’s only water source – the East Bay Pipeline – had to be shut down over the summer when it was found to have a leak, the BCWA decided it was urgent to establish an alternate supply.

“This summer was pretty scary,” Marchand added. “Our pipeline was only 20 years old. Should’ve lasted 100 years and, unfortunately, we had just paid it off and then had to invest another $4 million into the repair.”

In addition to paying for those unexpected fixes, the added revenue will go toward system improvements and maintenance as well as new projects like the Pawtucket Pipeline in hopes of decreasing dependency on Providence Water.

“We’ll eventually be able to supply water from either the city of Providence or the city of Pawtucket,” Marchand said.

The BCWA understands that making payments can be difficult for some residents, according to Marchand, but she also stressed the need for the rate increase.

“We feel in order to improve the integrity of this system and to maintain the water quality and the supply – it’s something we really have to do,” she said.

Providence Water recently filed for a 20% rate increase, which the BCWA filed a motion to prevent. That ongoing dispute is another reason why the board said it needs to establish an alternate source of water.

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