Water line extension project moving forward in No. Smithfield

Engineering firm James Geremia and Associates presents an environmental impact study.

NORTH SMITHFIELD – A project to add more than 30 homes to the Slatersville Public Water Supply system moved forward this week with a public hearing on a study the impact construction will have on the area.

The project – funded with a $1 million bond approved by voters in 2018 – will bring relief to 10 homes along Mechanic Street and Old Great Road, where private wells were found to have high concentrations of pollutants. Water lines that currently end at High View Ave and Mechanic Street are set to be extended 2,400 feet north, and then onto Old Great Road to Massachusetts state line.

It will finally bring an end – at least in town – to water pollution extending into two states that was first discovered in wells in North Smithfield in 2004. Wells in neighboring Millville, Mass. were also found to have contaminants, but despite several investigations by state and federal authorities, the source of the contamination has never been determined.

Engineering firm James Geremia and Associates performed the impact assessment, required by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management before construction can begin. The firm was hired by the town in June at a cost of up to $111,000.

“There are only temporary impacts to the environment as a result of the water main extension. This is a very, very small project in relation to some of the more complex projects,” Geremia said Monday, noting that the work will have no impact on soil, wetlands or farmlands, but that proper methods will need to be used for erosion and sediment control.

Geremia said his firm contacted 14 state agencies for input on the project, including several divisions at the Department of Health, the Department of Transportation, and the Historic Preservation and Conservation Commission.

Work is expected to begin during the upcoming construction season, with excavation of roadway to put in underground pipeline five feet down.

“We have to make sure that we don’t impact hazardous materials,” said Geremia. “It is at a depth much deeper than we will be excavating.”

Geremia noted that the only endangered species in the area is the northern long eared bat.

“This is a new species that has cropped up in the New England area,” Geremia said, noting that construction will not disturb its environment. “We’re not doing anything in caves or trees.”

The estimated price of the project is $968,000 and the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank has committed to $450,000 in principal debt forgiveness on the $1 million general obligation bond, cutting the cost in half.

The cost of water in the system also increased by 53 cents per thousand gallon this year to help finance the extension, bringing the rate to $7.64. Costs are expected to be offset as new users tie in to the extended system.

The assessment presented Monday night will be forwarded to RIDEM after a 10 day waiting period to allow additional public comment.

“During the construction phase we coordinate with the police, the fire, and the school districts,” said Geremia. “We do want to maintain a safe environment for the residents in this area. Obviously, construction is annoying to people who live there.”

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