Burrillville Water Supplies Not An Option For Proposed Power Plant

Aug 19, 2016

One of the early supporters of the proposed power plant in Burrillville has ended negotiations with the company that wants to build it. The Pascoag Utility District decided against supplying water to Invenergy's power plant.

Erin Olkowski (center) is one of many Burrillville residents who feared the possibility of a local well contaminated with a gasoline additive to be reopened. The Pascoag Utility District decided against supplying water from this well to Invenergy to cool its proposed power plant. General Manager Michael Kirkwood credits residents who showed up to board meetings and public hearings to raise concerns. He said the PUD's water consultant considered their questions in his analysis.
Credit Ambar Espinoza / RIPR

General Manager Michael Kirkwood said Invenergy offered to remediate a contaminated well in town, previously shut down by a court order. It had plans to use filtered water from the well to cool the power plant.

Kirkwood said the utility district is eager to remediate the well, but “it became apparent to us that there was just too much risk there to move forward both in terms of the contaminants in the ground and also depletion of the aquifer.”

“We couldn’t be assured that it could be done safely and we couldn’t be assured that it wouldn’t further stress the aquifer,” he said.

Last week the board of the Harrisville Fire District and Water Department, the town’s other water supplier, also declined Invenergy’s bid for water.

“Puts a big dent in their plans,” said Burrillville resident Terri Lacey of Invenergy’s proposal. “It sends a clear message to anyone in this state that, no, we are not going to give you our water.”

According to Invenergy's permit application, the power plant’s daily water needs would vary from about 100,000 gallons under normal conditions to nearly a million if the state approves it.

Invenergy officials said in a statement they are seeking alternative water sources and will soon have a revised proposal to obtain water.

According to the state’s Water Resources Board, future long-term drought in Rhode Island will have a big impact on drinking water as population and land use patterns change.