Hearing on Withdrawing Water from Charlestown to Cool Northern RI Power Plant

When: Tuesday, December 5 at 6 p.m. (doors open at 5 p.m.)

Where: Charlestown Elementary School, 363 Carolina Back Road (Rt. 112), Charlestown (map below)

What: Hearing to allow public comment from Charlestown citizens and others on Invenergy Thermal Development’s proposal to withdraw groundwater from Charlestown and transport it by tanker trucks to Burrillville to cool the turbines of the natural gas and diesel power plant they are seeking to build in the forest in that town.

Who: The hearing is held by the Energy Facility Siting Board (EFSB), a state commission. The EFSB is the  body in Rhode Island who will decide whether to allow the water withdrawal and also whether to allow the power plant. This will be the only public hearing held in Charlestown on this issue. The Town of Charlestown had to take legal action to get the EFSB to hold this hearing and recognize Charlestown as a community affected by the power plant.

Where will the water be withdrawn? From the center of the Indian Cedar Swamp, an over 900 acre, pristine wetland. The land was previously a state wildlife management area. It was transferred to the Narragansett Indian Tribe as part of the Settlement Act in 1978.

How much water will be withdrawn? Invenergy gives a range of 15,000 gallons of water per day up to approximately 724,320 gallons per day. The number of days at the higher level is not clear. In other contracts for water that Invenergy has attempted to negotiate for this power plant, there was no cap allowed by Invenergy on the volume of water withdrawn.

How many tanker truck trips will there be on local roads? At times there may be as few as 4 and at other times as many as 40 (or more) truck trips per day (20 in each direction).

Which roads will they use? Invenergy isn’t saying, but routes out of the Indian Cedar Swamp could be any of the following:

  • Narragansett Trail (near the Francis Carter Preserve) to Kings Factory Road to Rt. 91 to Rt. 112 in Carolina and on to Richmond
  • Rt. 112 to Rt. 2 to Rt. 138
  • Kings Factory Road to Rt. 1 or Rt. 91
  • And other combinations of the above routes

Isn’t the Cedar Swamp a conservation area? It was transferred to the Narragansett Tribe with the restriction that it be “held in perpetuity for conservation purposes and shall not be improved or developed.” Developing wells at the center of the cedar swamp, a pumping station, and some kind of access road will require significant alteration to the wetland. How that can comply with the conservation restriction is not explained.

Is the Narragansett Tribe in favor of this? One faction of the Narragansett made the deal, while other groups of tribal members are protesting the deal. Without a vote it is hard to know what the majority position is.

Please attend the hearing! No matter what your opinion is on withdrawing water from Charlestown and trucking it to Burrillville to cool a power plant, this is your only chance to express your opinion and influence the decision of the EFSB.

If you have a Facebook account visit our Facebook event on this hearing to sign up as “Going” or “Interested” and Facebook will send you a reminder as the date of the hearing gets near. Please also consider inviting your Rhode Island Facebook friends to this event.

Map to Charlestown Elementary School

Visit Our Water Withdrawal Page For More On This Issue