Utility company completes massive, four-year project to upgrade Pascoag water lines


BURRILVILLE – A four-year, multi-million dollar project aimed at improving water quality for residents of Pascoag was completed this month, with Pascoag Utility District announcing that the last of the lines that run through village roadways have been serviced. 

And it seems the last 100 feet of the work posed the greatest challenge.

Phase 3 of the long-running project began this year with the help of a $900,000 federal grant, along with loans from the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Development.

The company, which serves roughly 1,100 water customers in the village, made improvements to pipes along Pascoag Main Street, and throughout central parts of the system beginning in 2016 as Phases 1 and 2 of the plan, through contractor Biszko, with engineering support from C&E Engineering.

But funding ran short before the final stage.

This January, Rhode Island’s federal delegation announced that the work would again move forward, thanks to the grant and a $1 million 40-year loan, allowing the district to complete construction without transferring the expense to ratepayers.

This time, local water engineering firm Northeast Water Solutions, Inc. was hired to design the project, develop the construction bid package and provide engineering support. And New Jersey-based Dewcon, Inc., a firm that specializes in water construction and maintenance projects, began changing valves and hydrants along the route, and installing concrete liners in March. 

Water department staff members Mike Lima and Ben McKeon provided support to Dewcon as needed, and visited the work sites daily to monitor progress, according to PUD General Manager Michael Kirkwood.  

In late September, crews reached the final stage – the intersection of the water main at the bottom of Rock Avenue. The area was marked with a very steep incline to the water storage tank and the pipe was completely surrounded by ledge – installed more than 100 years ago.

“It was so steep, that the cleaning/lining tools would not work in this section, so this 100 feet was replaced with brand new lined ductile iron pipe,” PUD officials noted. 

This week, Kirkwood said he’s pleased with the outcome.

“Phase 3 is now essentially complete, with only some paving of some of the road patches left to do,” Kirkwood said. “All the underground water mains are now fully back in service.”

“We are extremely happy with the end result of clean, lined water mains, with new valves and hydrants on close to 50 percent of the system, including all the streets in the central village area,” Kirkwood said.

It’s just one of the recent improvements to services offered by the quasi-municipal utility company.

PUD is also in the process of installing a backup system for times of peak consumer energy use.

That project was started last year with the help of financing through the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank at “very good rates,” according to Kirkwood. The Rhode Island Office of Energy Resources will also provide a $250,000 grant to help.  

“We have already designed a significant expansion of our substation, and awarded the contract for its construction to Powell Electrical Systems, Inc.,” Kirkwood said.   

The project also calls for a large battery storage device to be installed, and PUD officials are working with New England Battery Storage for that element.

“It will allow us to lower the usage of National Grid’s lines under high summer and winter conditions, as well as during contingencies if one of the two National Grid feeder lines is down,” Kirkwood said.  

The general manager said that all elements should be installed, tested and in operation before next summer’s peak season.

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