Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank Finances New Burrillville Water System to Address Contamination

Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank Finances New Burrillville Water System to Address Contamination

Feb 15 2019

PROVIDENCE, RI – Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank announce $2.85 million in principal forgiveness financing for major water system improvements in the Burrillville villages of Harrisville and Oakland, today. The Harrisville Fire District Water Department (Harrisville Water) will utilize the Bank’s Drinking Water State Revolving Fund to replace Oakland Association’s current well-based water system which has been impacted by perfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) contamination.  Harrisville Water will provide service to the Oakland residents, as well as to surrounding homeowners who currently source their water from contaminated wells. 

“Access to safe, clean and affordable water is vitally important for all Rhode Islanders,” said Jeffrey R. Diehl, Executive Director and CEO of the Infrastructure Bank. “The Infrastructure Bank is immensely proud to be assisting residents of the Oakland and Harrisville communities.”

The project will connect homes to centrally-managed, municipal water in the late spring and early summer of 2019. By extending water service lines to the Oakland Mapleville neighborhood of Burrillville, homeowners in the area will have the opportunity to connect to municipally managed water free of cost.   

Routine water sampling by researchers at Brown University, in partnership with the Rhode Island Department of Health (RIDOH), uncovered high levels of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in wells managed by the Oakland Association and at private residences in Mapleville. The levels of PFAS found in water sources exceeded the standards established by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The Bank, working with RIDOH, Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM), the Association and Harrisville Water acted quickly to develop a long-term sustainable solution to bring safe, clean water to the Association’s residents at an affordable cost.

“The identification of a potential hazard in the Oakland Association water system through a comprehensive statewide analysis, as well as the short- and long-term response plans that were put in place, are perfect examples of public health in action,” said Director of Health Nicole Alexander-Scott, MD, MPH. “Health starts in our communities: in the places where we live, in the air that we breathe, in the food that we eat, and in the water that we drink. The Rhode Island Department of Health will continue to partner with municipal leaders and water systems to ensure that Rhode Islanders in every ZIP code throughout the state continue to have access to drinking water that is healthy and safe.”

The solution to connect Oakland Association and individual residential properties on private wells to Harrisville Water provides an outcome that leverages their capacity to manage water quality and reduce ongoing operating costs

“Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank has been a vital partner in addressing water contamination within the Oakland Mapleville neighborhood,” said Ronald Slocum, Harrisville Fire District Water Department Chairman.

Harrisville Water serves approximately 3,000 residents, or approximately 1/7th of the town's population. Harrisville is also the sole wholesale supplier of water to the Pascoag Utility District, which serves an estimated 4,000 people. Harrisville obtains the water supply for its system from several gravel packed wells located within the Town.

“Simply put, the Infrastructure Bank was the solution to our pollution.  The entire Oakland Association community thanks the Infrastructure Bank for standing by us in our time of need,” added Richard Nolan, Treasurer of the Oakland Association Water System. The Association serves approximately 175 people.

About Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank
Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank is Rhode Island’s central hub for financing infrastructure improvements for municipalities, businesses, and homeowners. We leverage capital in a revolving fund to offer innovative financing for an array of infrastructure-based projects including water and wastewater, road and bridge, energy efficiency and renewable energy, and brownfield remediation. These quality of life projects improve the State’s infrastructure, create jobs, promote economic development and enhance the environment.