MTBE UPDATE

As you may have heard on television, Pascoag Water Department is quickly running out of bottled water. Over the last several days, we have been contacting businesses throughout the area to arrange additional water donations.

 

Village IGA will be donating 20 pallets of bottled water by week’s end. Ocean State Power has also indicated that they will be willing to assist Pascoag residents with bottled water.

 

In addition, Fleet Bank will be passing out one gallon per week to each Pascoag water customer. The Rhode Island State Employee’s Credit Union is also donating one gallon per customer on each Friday.

 

The District’s hours for water the water give-away remains the same – Thursday evening from 4:00 p.m. until 7:00 p.m.

 

The District’s annual meeting is scheduled for Monday, October 29, 2001 at 7:00 p.m. The meeting was originally scheduled for the Burrillville Recreation Center on Lodge Road. Due to the anticipated larger than normal turnout, the location has been rescheduled to the Burrillville High School Auditorium.

 

Please plan to attend the meeting if possible. This will be the first meeting under the newly reorganized Pascoag Utility District. The agenda includes election of officers, approval of operating budgets, and reports of the Board of Utility Commissioners, Treasurer, and General Manager.

 

The RIDEM has put plans for the filtration system at Pascoag’s wells on hold for a few weeks. The plan was to have the filtration system up and running by the end of November, providing clean drinking water to Pascoag residents. The cost of the system was approximately $400,000. The state has expedited the approval and permitting of the new Harrisville wells at Eccelston Field. These wells are now expected to be operational by late December or early January. Since the filtration system would be needed for only a few weeks, the RIDEM is reviewing the appropriateness of spending the $400,000.

 

Harrisville Water Department and Pascoag Water Department are beginning the investigative process of combining both water departments to create a single entity. Both districts will be holding informational meetings over the next few weeks to inform the public of the progress. Any questions can be directed to Pascoag at 568-6222 or Harrisville at 568-2224.

 

Pascoag water customers are reminded that the water bills mailed out early in October are now due and payable. The water bills are only for actual water consumption from the period late June through late September. If you are having a problem paying this bill, please call the District office to arrange a payment schedule. The water department is a not-for-profit utility, and as such does not have any operating reserves.

MTBE UPDATE – RUMOR CONTROL

The District office has received several calls over the past few days from customers regarding the use of water. The Rhode Island Department of Health issued the following guidelines earlier in September, and they are still in effect:

USE WATER FOR THE FOLLOWING:

 

Showering (make sure area is well ventilated, and limit duration of shower)**

Laundry (in a well ventilated area and dryer vented to the outside)

Dish Washing (both automatic dishwashers and hand washing)

 

** Small children and infants who may swallow bath water should be given sponge baths.

DO NOT USE WATER FOR THE FOLLOWING:

 

Drinking (or making powered drinks, coffee, tea, etc.)

Preparing infant formula

Any food preparation or cooking

Brushing your teeth

Using water in areas without ventilation

Drying clothes without proper ventilation

 

Customers who have any questions concerning the use of water should call the District office at 568-6222 or the Rhode Island Department of Health at 222-2231. It is important that all customers have facts, and are not basing their decisions on rumors.

Water Conservation is Important!!

 

All Pascoag water customers are reminded that there is a water ban in effect. Water conservation is one way to limit the amount of MTBE drawn into the District’s water supply.

Quarterly Water Bills

 

Water bills for the quarter ending September 30, 2001 were mailed to customers last week. The water bills are for actual consumption of water from the period mid-June to mid-September. Customers are billed anxiety only for the water that they consumed. The water bills are due by October 20, 2001.

 

As announced on April 5, 2001, and effective for the quarter ending June 30, 2001, the water rate was increased by 6%. This increase, implemented before the MTBE crisis, was to replace the water department’s cash reserves, as well as to offset increased operating costs.

MTBE UPDATE

Monday, October 1, 2001, restored the flow of 100,000 gallons of water per day from the Harrisville water system. At approximately 7:30 p.m. Monday evening, the valve was opened between the two systems, allowing the flow from Harrisville to Pascoag. Harrisville Water Department is providing this water at no cost to Pascoag Water Department. Special thanks to all involved in this project.

 

Tuesday, October 2, 2001, Pascoag Utility District’s Board of Utility Commissioners held a special meeting to address the remediation of MTBE in Pascoag’s water supply.

 

The Board voted unanimously to accept the recommendation of its environmental contractor, Lincoln Environmental, to purchase and install a carbon filtration system capable of treating the flow of water, at the specified pressure, from Well 3 and Well 3A. This carbon filtration system is intended to filter the Pascoag water to accomplish reductions of MTBE levels.

 

The cost of this installation is to be paid by the funds pledged from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and administered by the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM).

 

Wednesday, October 3, 2001, the Town of Burrillville received notification that Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), requested by Pascoag Utility District, was awarded by Governor Almond. This grant, in the amount of $200,000, will fund the initial remediation steps taken by Pascoag in the MTBE crisis. The Town of Burrillville will extend its own funds to Pascoag immediately, with the CDBG funds reimbursing the Town in June.

 

Wednesday, October 3, 2001 found the District back in Superior Court following last week’s appearance. Judge Fortunato ordered the operators of Main Street Mobile, 24 North Main Street, Pascoag, to drill at least 5, and up to 11, new test wells off their property to determine how far a gasoline leak at the station has spread.

 

The station, one of two sites being eyed as the possible source of the MTBE contamination affecting Pascoag’s two wells, is located approximately 1,700 feet northeast of the station.

 

The contamination affects 1,200 district customers – approximately 4,000 people. Early in September MTBE levels were confirmed by the Department of Health in excess of 350 ppb in samples taken at both Well 3 and Well 3A. Customers of Pascoag Water Department have been advised not to drink the water and to limit their exposure to it.

 

Last week RIDEM and the Attorney General’s office took the station’s operators, Potter Oil Inc and Medea LLC, to court, charging that they were not doing enough to investigate and clean up the gasoline spill.

 

At that time, Judge Fortunato refused to order the operators to install further test wells as the state was requesting. He asked all parties to return this week for an update.

 

On October 3rd, a consultant for the gasoline station reported to the judge that a pump at the North Main Street site continues to remove raw gasoline from the groundwater, and two test wells had been drilled into bedrock below the property. One of these bedrock wells turned up components of gasoline, including MTBE and benzene, the consultant stated.

 

Richard Hittinger, consultant for the station, and President of Alliance Environmental Group, recommended that the station install three more test wells to investigate off-site groundwater contamination. Two of the test wells would be installed to the east of the property, and one into the sewer line that runs down North Main Street in front of the station.

 

A state engineer working to address the water contamination situation testified that those plans did not go far enough. Patrick Hogan, the engineer, expressed his belief that the equipment that Alliance planned to use would only be a waste of time because it could not drill a well into the layers of bedrock that lie just below the surface of the ground in the area.

 

Hogan stated that deeper bedrock wells are required to determine where the gasoline or gasoline components might migrate. His recommendation was to install two wells to the north to determine if contamination is flowing in that direction.

 

Judge Fortunato agreed with the state, setting up a tiered system to outline how the testing will proceed.

 

The judge ordered Potter and Medea to start by installing the three test wells they had planned. In addition, he ordered that the two wells recommended by Hogan also be installed. The judge’s decision also stated that four of those wells should be into bedrock, with the fifth into the sewer bed. The fifth well will not require drilling into bedrock.

 

If these test wells find contamination, Judge Fortunato stated that Potter and Medea would have to drill an additional three wells further out. If those additional wells find contamination, another three wells will be necessary.

 

When the test drilling is completed, the judge will bring all parties back into court for further discussion.

Rhode Island State Employee’s Credit Union Water Give-Away

Beginning Friday, October 5, 2001, and for the next several Fridays, the Rhode Island State Employee’s Credit Union (RISECU) at Merchant’s Plaza, North Main Street, Pascoag will be giving each Pascoag water customer one gallon of water. This is in addition to the six gallons per week currently available to each residential water customer through the District. RISECU is donating the water directly to Pascoag water customers

 

Pascoag water customers may pick up their six gallons (1 case) per week each Thursday evening between 4:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. at the District office. Customers unable to pick up water on Thursday evening may call the District office to arrange an alternate time for pick up. Any housebound customers should call 568-6222 to arrange a delivery of water to their home. Sam’s Club and Wal-Mart have donated the water currently available at the District.

To: All Pascoag Residential Water Customers- Pascoag Utility District Announces New Water Give-Away Hours

Effective October 1, 2001, Pascoag residential water customers can pick up one case (6 gallons) of water each week.

 

Residential water customers can stop by the District office every Thursday evening, from 4:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. to pick up their water. If you are unable to get water on Thursday evening, please call the District office to arrange an alternate pick up time.

 

In the event any of the District’s water customers are housebound, and cannot arrange to obtain water, District personnel will deliver water for their needs. Please call the District office at 568-6222 to set up a delivery time.

 

Please feel free to call the office anytime with your questions or concerns.

 

Very truly yours,

 

Judith R. Allaire

Customer Service and Accounting Manager