Route 295 @ Route 44 Main Replacement Work

To the Residents and Business Owners of the Greenville Water District:

On Monday, June 26th 2023 at approximately 4:30pm, the 16” main transmission line feeding the Greenville water system under Route 295 had a catastrophic failure (line break). This line is encased in a 42” diameter concrete sleeve which made it impossible to locate the break along the 350’ length under the highway. This was an unprecedented event in the history of the organization, where I have worked for over 28 years. I immediately enabled my emergency response plan and upon successful shutdown, I notified all local television media outlets of the line failure and implemented emergency conservation measures for essential water use only including an outdoor ban. By Tuesday (June 27th) morning, I had signboards throughout the Greenville area notifying residents and business owners of the current emergency. I also contacted Todd Manni, director of Emergency Management Agency (EMA), who sent out a reverse 911 call notifying customers of the catastrophic failure. Upon shutdown of the transmission line, Greenville now had no ability to pump water into the system. The first step was to enable operation of the emergency interconnect with the Town of Smithfield to bring water into Greenville. It was quickly assessed that to get the amount of water needed to stabilize the system, I would need to set up an emergency pump station external of the Log Road Pump Station. This station was in operation by 10pm Tuesday evening and continued for four (4) straight days, 24/7, and was manually controlled with constant monitoring. First and foremost, my biggest concern was keeping the system filled with water as tank levels were critically low with no primary source available to refill the tanks. Within hours of the initial incident, 400’ of pipe was ordered and being delivered from Gardiner Maine. A plan was devised to pull this new pipe through the existing main under Rt. 295. Once complete, connections were made, and the new line was disinfected and put into service. The system was fully operational on Saturday evening, four (4) days after the break occurred, which is a remarkable achievement in multitasking by a staff of only four (4) employees, one (1) in the office, Deb Boyle and three (3) field staff. The field staff of Chris Boyle, Chris Rich, and myself worked 24/7 through the entire week. It would be remiss to say we did it alone. The Smithfield Water Supply water system operators Bob Forrest and Tony Antonucci were with us providing invaluable support all the way, as we always work together in large emergencies. Leading the way in this support effort was public works director Gene Allen. The technology and skill of EJ Prescott’s Jack Prescott and Paul Heslam, Chris Walsh with W. Walsh Company, and the tireless work of the employees of Boyle & Fogarty construction was amazing to see. They were focused and gave everything they had. Senator David Tikioian offered his support and resources throughout the event. Our consultant engineer Tim Thiess with Pare Corporation, my colleagues in water supply at Providence Water, Peter LePage, Director of Engineering and Greg Giasson, Executive Engineer who provided invaluable support, experience and resources including a generator to power our portable pump station. Thanks to Jim Decelles of Pawtucket Water Supply who provided staff to help with phone calls, Bristol County Water with their sign board as well as Lincoln, Cumberland, and Kingston Water’s Chris Champi offering any support they could if needed. I would also like to thank the Board of Directors for staying focused and pursuing an emergency interconnect at Log Road and making it a reality as we fully funded the entire project knowing the importance of this interconnection (in the event this day came). For the last 7-10 years I relentlessly pursued RIDOT to put a water bypass in the bridge at 295 which they denied over and over. As there are utilities in bridges throughout the state, I could not understand this logic, especially with this critical transmission line. For the past five years, we have also been working on an extension from Citizens Bank Corporate Campus to bring a larger secondary supply into Greenville that will also support Smithfield Water Supply ensuring reliable operation for years to come for all of Smithfield. As I stated earlier, this was an unprecedented event, and most of the confusion came when a precautionary boil order in a small area of the water system was issued by the RI Dept. of Health out of an abundance of caution. I received this notice the same time my customers did, by press release. I do not believe this was the correct call by the Department of Health as the isolated and failed portion of the system was sealed off while under pressure. There was no threat or indication that any biological contaminant had entered the system. All water system testing supported that, and the newly repaired portion of the system was fully chlorinated and tested before being put into service. Furthermore, all residents and businesses have check valves installed to protect the water system and its customers. The Greenville Water District is its own entity and not a division of the Town of Smithfield. This also contributed to the confusion and I attempted to clarify by directing customers to our website through the reverse 911 system showing on a map the specific area affected. Town officials stating that the precautionary boil order pertained to the entire town only exacerbated matters further. I have learned from this experience and will be instituting a new system to alert customers specific to this utility as we overhaul our website and update our communication abilities. You will be able to register on our website when this becomes available. Again, with a short staff, at this critical time my primary focus was protecting you from an even more catastrophic situation and that would be no water at all. I can draw a parallel of my actions during this event by applying a basic and important principle used in the field of aviation, where all pilots are taught three basic things to do in an emergency. In priority order, Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. Aviate: Fly the airplane and get control of the situation (In my case, stabilize the water system to protect our customers and keep the system in water) Navigate: Figure out where you are and where you are heading (In my case, call in resources, bring in supplemental pumping and get materials and people on site to start repair immediately) Communicate: Talk to ATC or someone on the outside and explain what’s happening (in my case, contact media, town emergency call back system, sign boards and website to get people informed) Greenville Water District is not a city or town and is often overlooked for ARRA, ARPA or Covid money. Every town in Rhode Island received substantial sums of money from the federal government. In other communities, cities will share some of this funding, particularly with independent fire districts. This can be used for utility and infrastructure upgrades as many other towns in Rhode Island are doing, so you should contact your council members and make it known that as a voting, taxpaying citizen in the Town of Smithfield and Greenville Water District the Town should share a portion of this money. Water is your most important resource and utility. Most importantly, I would like to thank the residents and business owners of the Greenville Water District for following conservation measures and ensuring that everyone had adequate water throughout this crisis. Sincerely, David M. Powers, Jr. District Superintendent Greenville Water District 

Greenville Water District

630 Putnam Pike Greenville, RI 02828

Telephone 401-231-1433