EPA recognizes North Smithfield water extension project for ‘excellence in public health protection’

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NORTH SMITHFIELD – The project to extend water lines in North Smithfield to an area where the wells serving several homes had been contaminated was one of 49 efforts nationally recognized this month by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

“These exemplary projects demonstrate leadership in innovative financing, partnership, and problem solving while improving water quality and public health protection,” noted a release on Wednesday, Feb. 16.

The project, first moved forward under former Town Administrator Gary Ezovski, extended lines operated by the Slatersville Water Company to homes along Mechanic Street and Old Great Road. It was funded, in part, through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund.

The $1 million North Smithfield project, extending service to some 30 homes, was recognized for, “Excellence in Public Health Protection.”

State Revolving Funds are EPA-state partnerships that provide communities with a permanent, independent source of low-cost financing for a wide range of water quality and drinking water infrastructure projects. The EPA’s AQUARIUS program recognizes and celebrates the innovation, sustainability, and public health protection demonstrated by those programs and assistance recipients.

Twenty-two projects by local governments and drinking water utilities were recognized by the 2021 AQUARIUS program, with North Smithfield’s effort recognized as “exceptional.” Boyle & Fogarty Construction installed the water line extension between June and December of 2020.

Since their inception, EPA’s SRFs have provided more than $189 billion in financial assistance to nearly 43,000 water quality infrastructure projects and 16,300 drinking water projects across the country.

The recognition comes amid ongoing efforts to further extend the Slatersville lines into neighboring Massachusetts.

Last month, NRI NOW broke the news that two North Smithfield businesses, Philips Electronics and PT Property Holdings, LLC  aka Polytop, had been deemed responsible for water contamination crossing over the state line into Millville by Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection.

Philips has stepped forward to work on a solution, with a project that could extend an 8 inch main water line approximately 750 feet from its current end at Old Great Road, with Slatersville Water Company to manage the new customers and infrastructure.

Polytop officials, however, have denied culpability.

The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management is reportedly in legal negotiations with potentially responsible parties and has been meeting with the businesses along with town officials about the issue.

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