Infrastructure Bank finances drinking water improvement projects

PROVIDENCE – Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank is financing $18.2 million for municipal drinking water improvement projects in Woonsocket, Cumberland, Providence, and Burrillville, the bank announced Tuesday.

The projects are expected to benefit several thousand homes and businesses in the four cities and towns.

Throughout its history, Providence-based Infrastructure Bank has invested more than $500 million in drinking water projects in Rhode Island, the bank said.

“The Infrastructure Bank is committed to assisting our state’s drinking water suppliers, large and small, meet their capital improvement needs,” said Infrastructure Bank CEO Jeff Diehl.

- Advertisement -

“We are excited to be assisting local communities to improve the safety of their drinking water and protect the health of Rhode Islanders,” Diehl said.

Financing the latest water projects through the bank’s Drinking Water Revolving Fund will save about $1 million in interest payments for the four municipalities, compared with if they had borrowed the money from other sources, according to the bank.

In this latest round of financing, the city of Woonsocket received the largest sum – a $12.5 million loan to finance the initial stages of constructing a new drinking water treatment facility.

The town of Cumberland has received a $4 million loan to complete upgrades to its drinking water distribution system.

“It’s been a pleasure to work together with the team at Rhode Island Infrastructure Bank,” said Cumberland Mayor William Murray.

“Their valuable expertise and financial support have allowed the town of Cumberland to continue with upgrading our drinking water distribution system for the future health of our residents,” Murray said.

The Providence Water Supply Board will get a $1 million interest-free loan to add to a fund that helps homeowners and other customers replace lead services lines at individual properties.

With the money, Providence Water created a new loan program named “Lead Free is the Way to Be,”which launched in May. The program provides customers with interest-free loans with repayment terms of up to three years to help them replace lead service lines that connects their properties to the water main.

Over the past 20 years, Providence Water has spent $55 million to replace the public end of lead service lines, and now the utility is helping homeowners replace their part of the service lines.

“The 3-year, 0 percent interest loan program is just one of the many tools we’ve made available to help our customers detect and mitigate the presence of lead,” said Providence Water Chairman Xaykham Khamsyvoravong.

“We’re committed to helping homeowners to do their part to improve water quality while we’re hard at work doing everything we can on our end,” Khamsyvoravong said.

In addition, the town of Burrillville has received $700,000 in financing for a water main upgrade to improve its service.

Burrillville Town Manager Michael C. Wood said, “The loan programs offered give cities and towns an affordable lower cost opportunity to make meaningful capital improvements for the health and safety of the residents we serve for important local projects.”

Scott Blake is PBN staff writer. Email him at Blake@pbn.com.