By MELANIE THIBEAULT and KAYLA PANU, Editors of Valley Breeze
CUMBERLAND – After nearly a decade of planning, the new municipal wells at Franklin Farm are expected to be operational by the end of June, officials said.
Last Wednesday, May 12, officials from the Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank and the Cumberland Water Department were among those who visited the new water treatment plant building on the grounds of Franklin Farm, 142 Abbott Run Valley Road in Cumberland, to highlight the project as part of Infrastructure Week. The wells are located in front of the current historic farmhouse, but are on farm property.
Shaun O’Rourke, managing director of RI Infrastructure Bank, told The Breeze that the benefit of the project, started in 2017, is that it will be a new source to provide “clean and safe drinking water to people. residents ”.
When completed, the new wells and the treatment building will allow the city to stop using Sneech Pond as a water source, which has been blamed for dirty tasting water when water levels are low. summer, The Breeze previously reported. The new wells will also allow the city to avoid purchasing water from the Pawtucket Water Supply Board on days of standard use, but PWSB water will still be purchased when demand is high.
As of this week, O’Rourke said both wells have been dug and all associated treatments and equipment are well advanced and mostly installed.
Bill Descoteaux, acting superintendent of the Cumberland Water Department, told The Breeze that engineers expect a smooth transition from one system to the next and do not foresee any problems getting the new wells into service. ‘by the end of June or the beginning of July.
“It is a resource that will benefit the city for decades to come,” he said, including improving water quality.
Officials said the project would have no impact on the city’s water tariffs.
Last June, Cumberland City Council authorized Mayor Jeffrey Mutter to sign a $ 4.41 million contract with Hart Engineering Corp. for the construction of the Franklin Farm well facility for the Cumberland Water Department. The Infrastructure Bank, O’Rourke said, provided a $ 2.5 million loan to the town of Cumberland for the project, which saved the town about $ 229,000 on service. the debt. The project, he added, also created around 70 new jobs in the construction sector.
Besides O’Rourke and Descoteaux, others in attendance last Wednesday included Jeff Diehl, CEO of RI Infrastructure Bank; Anna Coelho Cortes, Director of Client Engagement at Infrastructure Banking; Rob Little, Woodard and Curran’s drinking water practice manager; Todd Prokop, Woodard and Curran Project Manager; Bob Anderson, Director of Public Works for the Town of Cumberland; and project manager Ryan Murphy.
During the site visit, Prokop stressed that the teams were working with the city to “integrate better and minimize our impact on the site”. Once completed and closed, the wells will be level with the ground and will not be visible, he said, adding that normally the wells would remain standing, but they were innovative with this project.
The two wells, separated by a heap that will also be cleaned, will come together and be operated at the same time, coming out of the same aquifer but different areas of the ground, he said. “The capacity here is 1.1 million gallons per day,” he said of the amount of water that will be treated. “It’s the same with what the city can get from Sneech Pond. And a second set of pumps is not needed; these are strong enough to bring water into the distribution system. “
Julie Guerin, of Franklin Farm, told The Breeze that farm officials worked closely with the Water Department, two mayor’s administrations, Woodard and Curran, and the Historic Preservation and Heritage Commission of RI to ensure that “the structure of the well will blend into the landscape with its appearance similar to existing farm buildings, and the location of the wells will allow existing hay fields to remain and be maintained as they are.” have been for generations. O’Rouke said the architects and contractors have done a good job integrating the equipment into the farm landscape. The sewage treatment plant looks like a barn from the outside. “We couldn’t put it all underground,” Prokop said. “We took a different approach and tried to integrate it into the site instead.” They used the same architect who helped design the farm restoration, and the building is cedar clad and has a cedar roof and gutters. “There are aesthetic doors covering the various elements that would normally be exposed in a normal water treatment facility,” he said. “There is a generator on the right side of the building so that the wells can continue to provide water in the event of a power failure. Something that would often be outdoors and on display that wouldn’t look great on this site. “
What is happening in the factory is very minimal, said Prokop. “All that’s going on here is an adjustment of the pH, a little addition of chlorine for the disinfection of the water, then an addition of fluoride.”
The facility also includes a room with glass windows on three sides that will serve as a teaching room for groups of children visiting the farm so they can safely see what is happening to their drinking water.