Mayor defends Providence Water Supply Board resolution

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A resolution introduced by Mayor Joseph Polisena and approved during this month’s Town Council meeting objects to the sale of the Providence Water Supply Board by the city of Providence and commits to taking any and all steps to prevent the sale.

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza recently took steps to find the value of the water supply in the Scituate Reservoir, which is controlled by the Providence Water Supply Board. While Mayor Elorza has stated in news reports that he does not want to sell the water supply to a private entity, he may consider a regional water authority.

“To me, as far as I’m concerned, I don’t think he can sell the water system because it belongs to the ratepayers,” said Polisena. “We’re going to fight every option we can so he doesn’t sell the water system. I’m against it.”

During January’s meeting, the town council approved a 20-year water supply and economic development agreement worth more than $18 million with Clear River Energy, LLC (CRE). Under the arrangement, water will be trucked to the proposed Burrillville power plant from a facility in Johnston, which has yet to be purchased or built. The council’s decision drew scrutiny from environmental activist groups and some Johnston residents.

Since that agreement was reached, the Providence City Council has passed resolutions opposing Johnston’s plan to sell water to the proposed power plant. 

“They were against us selling water to Invenergy; I’m against him selling the water system. He wants to create a water district and give us one vote. I don’t need to be on a water district, I like things the way they are, so we’re going to basically fight if we have to,” said Polisena.

Recently, the Conservation Law Foundation, Inc. (CLF) has filed a lawsuit against Clear CRE and the town of Johnston, alleging that there is no legal standing for the transaction. 

“That’s their game, they do that all the time, to flex their muscles,” said Polisena. “I think when it’s all said and done, cooler heads will prevail and the so-called environmentalists will go away. I believe in the end we’ll be fine.”

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