PASCOAG, RI – In an effort to ensure access to clean water for residents of Pascoag, U.S. Senator Jack Reed today joined officials from the Pascoag Utility District (PUD), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and fellow members of the Rhode Island Congressional delegation to announce a $1,199,000 federal loan and $900,073 USDA grant for local water infrastructure improvements.  The federal funding from USDA’s Water and Environmental Program (WEP) will help finance the cleaning and lining of 17,000 feet of water mains to counter negative effects of aging cast iron pipes and provide residents with safe, reliable water.

“We’ve got to do more to ensure all Rhode Islanders have access to safe, clean drinking water.  Modernizing local water systems and improving our water infrastructure is a smart investment in public health, environmental protection, and community development.  These federal funds and low-cost financing will help save taxpayers money and ensure our communities have access to clean water,” said Senator Reed, a member of the Appropriations Committee.  “I commend the Pascoag Utility District and local leaders for taking proactive steps to upgrade the water main system so it is in better shape for the next century.  This is a significant financial undertaking and I am pleased to help secure federal funds to make the project a reality.”

This marks the third phase of the district’s long-term initiative to improve its water mains and ensure higher-quality water for the district.  The Pascoag Utility District will use this round of federal funding to clean and line about 17,000 feet of 6 inch, 10 inch, 12 inch, and 14 inch cast iron water mains that had been contributing to rusty water complaints for years.

In 2016, the Pascoag Utility District received $2.4 million in USDA funding to begin rehabilitating its aging water system.  In this new phase, PUD will also install all new valves and hydrants where work is taking place to improve its ability to manage the system.  By the end of Phase Three, PUD will have cleaned and lined 40 percent of its total water system and contributed to far cleaner water for residents.  Work is scheduled to begin in Spring of 2020, with areas under focus including South Main Street and the Rock Avenue Tank Tie-in site in Pascoag.  Phase Three is expected to be completed by the end of the year.

WEP provides funding for clean and reliable drinking water systems, sanitary sewage disposal, sanitary solid waste disposal, and storm water drainage to households and businesses in eligible rural areas.  It is the only federal program exclusively focused on water and waste infrastructure needs of rural communities with populations of 10,000 or less. 

A senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Reed has worked to increase the federal investment in water infrastructure in Rhode Island and nationwide.  Senator Reed led a successful push to include $659 million for USDA’s Water and Sewer grant and loan program in the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriations law, which will support clean water and sanitary waste disposal projects in Pascoag and other small rural communities.  Senator Reed led a successful push to increase the funding for the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA’s) Clean Water and Drinking Water State Revolving Funds in the Fiscal Year 2020 Appropriation Bill.