Town hires engineering firm for costly upcoming water tank project

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – Members of the Town Council voted unanimously Monday, June 21 to engage an engineering firm to spearhead a project addressing deficiencies with the Slatersville Water Company’s one million gallon storage tank on Comstock Road.

Stantec Consulting Services, Inc. of Burlington, Mass. has been hired for design and project management work, at a cost excepted to land somewhere between $200,000 and $300,000, according to Town Planner Tom Kravitz.

Town officials have known of the need for improvements to the tank – the only storage unit providing water to some 3,000 residents – since 2017. In May of 2019, former Town Administrator Gary Ezovski was notified by the Rhode Island Department of Health of deficiencies following a sanitary survey, which pointed to the need for both interior and exterior rehabilitation, as well as improvements to elements such as safety standards.

While the deficiencies are considered, “minor,” by RIDOH, the need for funding has delayed the improvements, and Town Administrator Paul Zwolenski noted this week that, “It’s at a hefty price.”

While Ezovski had initially estimated the cost for rehabilitation around $1 million, Kravitz this week called previous figures both low and outdated. Demolition of two out-of-services tanks has been added to the work, and current proposals include the addition of an active mixing system, overflow modifications and booster pump work.

Kravitz said he has an informal figure of the total cost, but on Monday told the council, “I kind of don’t want to say it. I want to get the bids back.”

“If you allow us to engage Stantec, we can ask them to put estimates to the scope of work,” Kravitz said.

The planner noted that the town plans to apply for a COVID-related infrastructure grant to fund the project.

“A substantial amount we want to get funded through that effort, including the design work,” Kravitz said.

Water in North Smithfield is purchased from Woonsocket, and the Slatersville Water Company serves as a distribution system. A temporary system will need to be established while the tank is out of service for repairs, which is expected to include cleaning and disinfecting of all equipment.

The tank is also used by multiple cellular carriers, and hardware will likely need to be relocated.

A second old, rusted, and out-of-service tank, also on Comstock Road, is expected to be demolished as part of the infrastructure project, along with another unused tank on Country Way.

“All tanks are assumed to have lead paint on them and mitigation will be needed for demolition and rehabilitation work,” noted a proposal submitted by Stantec Principal Garry McCarthy.

“I think we have to tackle what the Department of Health wants us to tackle first, which is the tank, for sure,” said Kravitz.

Stantec will assist the town in applying for funding through both the RIDOH State Revolving Fund and the USDA Rural Development grant/loan programs, according to the proposal.

The firm estimated that design work for the project will be completed by the end of September, with a bid for construction awarded by February of 2022. Construction will take 8 months, with an estimated completion date in October of next year.

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