How far below ground the water mains are?

Water mains are generally located 4 feet below ground.  This distance help to protect the mains from frost in colder climates.

How large the water mains are in the distribution system?

Water mains are various in size, ranging from the smallest (6") to largest (102") in diameter.

How many employees work at Providence Water?

On average, Providence Water has 250 employees.

How many fire hydrants are in the distribution system?

There are approximately 6,275 fire hydrants in our distribution system.

How many gallons of water an average person will drink in their lifetime?

 If the average person drinks the 'required' 64 ounces of water per day and lives to age 80, he/she will consume 14,600 gallons of water during their lifetime.

How many miles of water mains are in our system?

Providence Water has nearly 1,040 miles of water mains in our distribution system - enough to stretch from Providence to Florida!

How many service connections Providence Water has?

Providence Water has approximately 76,800 service connections.

How many wholesalers Providence Water supplies?

Providence Water provides water to (7) wholesalers - Greenville Water, the City of East Providence, Town of Smithfield, Lincoln Water, Kent County Water, Bristol Water, and the City of Warwick.

How much water is used to flush a toilet?

A standard toilet uses 3.5 gallons of water to flush.  All of those flushes can add up to approximately 20 gallons per day.

How much water it takes to fill an average bathtub?

Taking a bath requires up to 70 gallons of water.

How much water the average person uses per day?

 The average resident uses about 100 gallons of water per day.

How old the water mains are?

Many of the water mains in our distribution system were installed over 100 years ago.

What chemicals are added to our drinking water?

Chlorine, ferric sulfate, fluoride, and lime.

What purpose the aerators (located in front of the water treatment plant) serve?

The aerators located in front of our Purification Plant are used to improve the taste of the water, as well as to remove any unpleasant odors.

What retail areas Providence Water serves?

Providence Water serves Providence, North Providence, Cranston, Johnston, and East Smithfield.

What size water meters Providence Water installs?

Providence Water installs 5/8", 3/4", 1", 1.5", 2", 3", 4", 6", 8", 10", and 12" meters.

What the term "gravity-fed" means?

Flow from the source of water supply is entirely by gravity.  At present, the mode of delivery within the distribution system is 75% by gravity and 25% by pumping.

What the water mains were made out of in the late 1800s?

The first water pipes in the US were made from wood (bored logs that were charred with fire).

What water mains are made out of?

We have several types of main in our distribution system:  cast iron, ductile iron, concrete, steel, and asbestos cement.

Who oversees the daily operation of Providence Water?

The General Manager, the Executive Engineer and the Deputy General Manager of Administration oversee the daily operations at Providence Water.


How deep the Scituate Reservoir is?

 The average depth is 32 feet, the maximum depth is 90 feet.

How hot/cold the water gets in the Scituate Reservoir?

Excluding the ice cover, the water temperature goes down to approximately 35 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter and climbs to approximately 59 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer (based on the depths that we draw from, not the surface).

How many Olympic-sized swimming pools it would take to fill the Scituate Reservoir?

It takes six and a half years for the average American residence to use the amount of water required to fill an Olympic-sized swimming pool (660,000 gallons).  The calculation is as follows:  (Scituate Reservoir) 39,746,000,000 divided by (Olympic-sized pool) 660,000 = 60,221 Olympic-sized swimming pools.

How much water is in the Scituate Reservoir?

The storage capacity of the Scituate Reservoir is approximately 39.7 billion gallons.

How often the water "turns" in the Scituate Reservoir and why it turns?

Turns occur right around April and October.  During the change of season, water temperatures differ from top to bottom. The different temperature waters have different density. The heavier water sinks while the lighter water rises thus causing a seasonal turn.

If fishing is allowed in the Scituate Reservoir?

Fishing is not allowed in the Scituate Reservoir.

If the water in the Scituate Reservoir is treated before you can drink it?

Yes, the water needs to be treated to reduce chemical and bacteriological contaminants.

What color the water is in the Scituate Reservoir?

The water in the Scituate Reservoir has a tint depending on the biological species present but overall it has a blue appearance.

What the average yearly rainfall at the Scituate Reservoir is?

 The average yearly rainfall at the Scituate Reservoir is 49.66 inches.

What the dimensions are for the Scituate Reservoir dam?

The Scituate reservoir dam is 3,200 feet long and 100 feet high.

What the surface area of the Scituate Reservoir is?

The surface area of the Scituate Reservoir is 5.3 sq. miles, or 3,390 acres.


How many species of plants and wildlife have been identified on our Providence Water Watershed property?

1,000 species have been identified.

How many square miles comprise our watershed?

The watershed is 92.8 square miles.

How many trees were planted on old farm land after the creation of the Scituate Reservoir watershed?

7 million trees have been planted.

How much land in owned by Providence Water in the Scituate Reservoir watershed?

Providence Water owns 5,000 acres of water and 13,000 acres of forest.

If any recreational activities can take place on Providence Water property?

Personal recreational activities are not compatible with drinking water security but we do encourage participation in the guided tours we offer.

In which towns the Scituate Reservoir watershed is located in?

Scituate, Foster, Glocester, Western Cranston, and Western Johnston.

What are some of the larger tree species (i.e. those that grow large enough to have value as wood products)?

White pine, red pine, pitch pine, scarlet oak, red oak, black oak, white oak, white ash, and yellow birch.

What are some of the larger wildlife species that may be found on the Providence Water property?

Coyotes, foxes, bobcats, fishers, rabbits, deer, otters, beavers, turkeys, great blue herons, and owls.

What forest products are generated from the watershed?

Firewood, lumber, mulch, witch hazel, maple syrup, and wood chips for energy.

What the favorite food is for deer in the watershed?

 The leaves of young tree seedlings.

What the five main tributary reservoirs that flow into the Scituate Reservoir?

The Barden, the Moswansicut, the Ponaganset, the Regulating, and the Westconnaug Reservoirs.

What the largest physical asset that the City of Providence owns?

The watershed property is the largest physical asset that the City of Providence owns.

Lead FAQ

How can I be exposed to lead?

The most common source of lead exposure is from paint in homes and buildings built before 1978. Lead-based paint and lead-contaminated dust are the main sources of exposure for lead in U.S. children. The main sources of lead exposure are ingesting lead paint and inhaling dust created from home renovations (homes constructred before 1978).  Lead can also be found in some household plumbing materials and some water service lines. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that 10 to 20 percent of human exposure to lead may come from lead in drinking water. Infants who consume mostly mixed formula can receive 40 to 60 percent of their exposure to lead from drinking water.

How can I reduce my exposure to lead in my drinking water?

Below is a link to a source that will help you to learn how you can easily reduce your exposure to lead in drinking water.

How does lead get into my drinking water?

Lead leaches into water over time through corrosion—a dissolving or wearing away of metal caused by a chemical reaction between water and your plumbing. Lead can leach into water from pipes, solder, fixtures, faucets (brass) and fittings. The amount of lead in your water depends on how long the water stays in the pipes, the water’s corrosivity, and water temperature.

Is my home at risk for lead plumbing?
  • Homes constructed before 1945 may have lead service lines.
  • Homes built after 1982 and before 1988 may have lead solder joints on their copper piping.
  • Your home's brass fixtures may also contain lead.
  • In 2014, Federal law mandated the surface of every pipe, fixture, and fitting sold for the use of potable water not contain more than .25% lead by weight.  If your home has brass fittings that have been installed before 2014, they may contain lead.
I’m concerned my home may have lead plumbing. How can I find out?

If you’re concerned your home plumbing may contain lead pipes (lead is a dull gray metal that is soft enough to be easily scratched with a house key), you may want to have your water tested by a certified laboratory. Testing is the only way to confirm if lead is present or absent. For more information on testing your water, you can call us at (401) 521-6303.

What are the health effects of lead?

Lead can cause serious health problems if too much enters your body.  It can damage the brain and kidneys, and can interfere with the production of red blood cells that carry oxygen to all parts of your body.  The greatest risk of lead exposure is to infants, young children, and pregnant women.  Scientists have linked the effects of lead on the brain with lowered IQ in children.  Adults with kidney problems and high blood pressure can be affected by low levels of lead more than healthy adults.  Lead is stored in the bones and it can be released later in life.  During pregnancy, the child receives lead from the mother’s bones, which may affect brain development.

What is being done?

With our lead notification and other outreach methods, Providence Water is educating consumers about steps to take to reduce exposure to lead in drinking water and the health risks associated with exposure to lead.  Providence Water has also made changes to the water treatment process to make the water less corrosive in an effort to reduce lead levels in some homes.

These measures, combined with the water main rehabilitation program's public lead service replacements and our unidirectional flushing program, are being utilized to reduce lead levels at the tap in homes with lead service connections.

What is lead?

Lead is a naturally occurring metal that is harmful if inhaled or swallowed. Lead can be found in air, soil, dust, food, and water.

Will Providence Water replace my lead service line?

Lead services lines on a customer’s property are not part of the public water system and are the responsibility of the property owner.  The property owner owns and maintains their service line from the shutoff valve located in the sidewalk or grassed area in the street right-of-way to the water meter.  Providence Water advises that you contact a licensed plumber for work on your service line. To learn more about replacing lead service lines, contact us at (401) 521-6303.

Online Payment - General Info

What are some of the benefits of receiving my bill electronically?

It is convenient, saves time, reduces errors, allows you to receive bills anywhere at any time and helps the environment by saving trees. You can continue to receive a paper bill, but if you elect to go paperless, you can always print out a copy of the invoice if needed.

What are the benefits of paying a bill online?
Paying online with a credit card or electronic check saves time, gives you the flexibility to pay how and when desired, and saves money (no more stamps, paper checks or envelopes), and Invoice Cloud will store your information for future use – but only if you choose to store it.
What is Invoice Cloud?

Invoice Cloud is a web-based, electronic invoice presentment and payment company that we have partnered with to provide faster, more convenient billing services to our customers. By automating billing and collections, customers can click and pay online while helping the environment and reducing clutter in their home or workspace. 

Online Payment - Help Topics

I accidentally deleted my current email notification, what should I do?

If you are registered, you can login via your Providence Water website and view the bill there, or you can call Providence Water’s office and ask them to resend the email.

If I have additional questions or I am having trouble registering, who should I call?

Invoice Cloud is a web-based, electronic invoice presentment and payment company that we have partnered with to provide faster, more convenient billing services to our customers. By automating billing and collections, customers can click and pay online while helping the environment and reducing clutter in their homes or workspace.

Providence Water’s customer service at (401) 521-5070 can answer most questions, but if the website is down or inoperable, please call Invoice Cloud customer service at (781) 848-3733.

What if this website is down or for some reason I am unable to use this site?

Please be aware that interest and fees will not be waived if this website is inoperable for any reason or if data entry errors occur. If the website is inoperable, payments can be made by mail, by phone in some locations or at Providence Water’s Office. 

Who do I contact with questions about a bill?

If you are unable to find the information you need in your online payment history or open invoices, please call Providence Water's Customer Service at (401) 521-5070.

Online Payment - Making Payments

How long does it take for a credit card transaction to process if I pay online?

Credit card transactions typically take 48 hours to settle.  An authorization is issued immediately; however, it takes 48 hours for the money to be moved.

How should I enter my credit card information?

The information you enter on the payment screen must be exactly the same as it appears on your credit card. This information collected will be used to authorize your payment. 

Why am I being charged a late fee?

If you feel that this fee has been assessed in error or you would like more information about late fee charges, please contact Providence Water’s office.

Will I be able to print a copy of my bill?

Yes, each invoice is presented in PDF and HTML format. Electronic storage is recommended because it saves paper and has a beneficial impact on our environment.

Can I still send in a paper check?
Yes, your bill can be paid in any of the following ways:
  • Email notification based payment – click the “View Invoice or Pay Now” button in your email
  • Web based online payment – login to online bill pay via Providence Water website
  • Paper check – sent by whatever means you choose, including US Postal Service (note:  many paper checks today are converted into electronic transactions once they are received by Providence Water).
Can I tell if my payment has been posted?

Yes, simply login to your account and select “View paid or closed invoices”. If you are a registered customer, you will receive an email notification.

Can I use a credit card to pay my bill(s)?

Yes, you can. There is a service fee when using credit cards which varies based upon the type of card, type of bill and payment amount. The exact service fee amount will be displayed during the payment process prior to submitting the payment. 

Can I use a debit card to pay my bill(s)?
Yes, although technically your debit card will be processed like a credit card and you will not be asked to enter a pin number. The service fee is the same as credit cards and varies based upon the type of card, type of bill and payment amount. The exact service fee amount will be displayed during the payment process prior to submitting the payment. 
Can I use more than one payment method per transaction?

Yes, if Providence Water accepts partial payments, you may use one payment method for part of the transaction and another payment method for other parts of the transaction. 

Can I use more than one payment method per transaction?

Yes, if Providence Water accepts partial payments, you may use one payment method for part of the transaction and another payment method for other parts of the transaction. 

Do I need to notify my bank or change bank accounts?

No, your current bank account (checking or savings) will work fine. So many payments are made electronically now that banks are already prepared for online payments. However, if you have arranged through your bank to automatically pay your bill, you need to contact your bank and discontinue the automated payment, otherwise you may pay your bill twice.

How do I change my account information?

Simply log into your account and change any of your personal information under the My Profile tab. If you are unable to change some of your information, you may need to call Providence Water and have them change it for you.

How long does it take for an EFT (electronic funds transfer) transaction to process if I pay online?

EFT transactions typically take 48 – 72 hours to settle.  

How long will my payment history be maintained?

24 months is the standard retention period.

How should I enter my credit card information?

The information you enter on the payment screen must be exactly the same as it appears on your credit card. This information collected will be used to authorize your payment. 

How will I know that my payment has been accepted?

After you submit your payment, you will see a payment confirmation screen. It will contain your payment confirmation message. It will show an approved number for credit cards or a processed number for electronic check. You will also receive a confirmation email after your transaction is submitted. The email will include your account number, invoice number, amount paid, and confirmation message. If your electronic check does not pass through the bank, you will receive an email informing you of the rejected payment. You may need to call Providence Water in order to pay again.

How will I know that my payment has been accepted?

After you submit your payment, you will see a payment confirmation screen. It will contain your payment confirmation message. It will show an approved number for credit cards or a processed number for electronic check. You will also receive a confirmation email after your transaction is submitted. The email will include your account number, invoice number, amount paid, and confirmation message. If your electronic check does not pass through the bank, you will receive an email informing you of the rejected payment. You may need to call Providence Water in order to pay again.

If I don’t have email can I still process an electronic payment?

No, to complete the online payment process, you will need an email address so that the system can deliver your payment confirmation. If you do not have an email address, you can obtain a free email account from any of the following services: yahoo.com, hotmail.com, or gmail.com.

May I pay my water bill by credit card at Providence Water’s office?

No, we are only permitted to accept credit card payments online via Invoice Cloud.

What forms of payment can I use?

You can may issue an electronic check from your bank account (checking or savings), pay by credit card, debit card, or pay by phone. Please be advised that online and phone payment services are provided as fee-based services.

What information do I need to make a payment?

If you are registered, the only information you need to have available to complete a payment transaction is your email address and password. If you make a One Time Payment, then you will also need your bank account or credit card information and your account number. 

What is a partial payment?

A partial payment occurs when only part of an invoice is paid and may apply if Providence Water has elected to allow partial payments. Please contact Providence Water’s office for more information.

What is a service or convenience fee?

A non-refundable fee added to an invoice to cover various administrative costs associated with billing and accepting payment.

When can I pay?

You can make payment or review your account 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It is always a good idea to pay or schedule a payment at least few days before the due date to allow for processing time.

Will I have online access to my account?

Yes, you will have 24/7 access to your account for invoice review and payment, payment history and customer service requests.

Online Payment - Paperless Statement

Can I start receiving paper bills again?

Yes, simply go into your profile and under Paperless Options, select “No, I don’t want to go paperless.” Be sure to update/save the change.

What are scheduled payments?

Scheduled payments are scheduled individually by you for each bill on your specified date.

What is the difference between Auto-Pay and a scheduled payment?
Auto-Pay is an automated process which pays your balance in full each billing cycle at 2am on the due date; scheduled payments are manually entered by you for the date you choose for each bill you choose.
Can I cancel Auto-Pay?
Yes, simply go into your profile and uncheck the auto-pay box that you had previously checked when you elected to opt into Auto-Pay.
Can I change a scheduled payment?

Yes, as long as it is changed before the date it was scheduled to be paid.

Can I schedule payments?

Yes. You can set up a future payment at any time prior to the bill due date.

I received an email stating “Thank you for going paperless,” but I DID NOT sign up for paperless!
The paperless box is generally defaulted to enroll you in paperless billing because it helps the environment.
Option 1: Customer must click on “Complete paperless process” link within email to complete enrollment.  If they do not, the paperless option will not be active and will drop off system within a few days.  
Option 2: Customer can log into account and cancel paperless registration. 
Choose >My Profile>paperless option>cancel paperless registration
I signed up for Auto Pay but do not see any information under “My scheduled payments.”
The Auto Pay date will not appear under scheduled payments. Auto Pay will be debited from the customer’s account on the due date.   
What if I already have auto-pay or a scheduled payment set up with my bank?

You will need to contact your bank and cancel your automated or scheduled payment before the payment is due (typically payments are made a couple days in advance of the due date, so don’t wait until the last minute).

What is Auto-Pay?
If you elect to opt in to Auto-Pay, it means that your bills will be paid automatically on their due dates using your default credit card or bank account. This will avoid any late fees and free you from having to remember when to pay.
When I sign up to “Go Paperless,” will I still receive a paper bill in the mail?

No, you will receive an email notification each time a new bill is ready for you to view and pay. Email notifications go to the email address used when you registered, a second email address may added if you wish to send notifications to an additional or back up email address.

Online Payment - Security

Are my credit card and checking account information safe when I pay online?

Absolutely. Invoice Cloud will safely store all of your financial information using Payment Card Industry (PCI) Compliant systems. This includes truncating (abbreviating) account numbers so that even Providence Water does not see your complete account information.

Is my information secure?

Invoice Cloud uses the highest standards in Internet security. Account information displayed within the customer and Providence Water portals is truncated to protect confidential data. Any information retained is not shared with third parties. 

What is PCI Compliance and why is it so important?

PCI stands for Payment Card Industry, and compliance with the industry standards is a requirement for those that accept the major credit cards and for software providers who have applications which involve the transmission and/or storage of credit card information.  If breaches are found on systems that are not PCI compliant, the major credit card companies have the ability to levy significant fines on the offending parties.  

Who has access to my account?
You and Providence Water’s authorized staff.  No one will have access to your financial information as all check routing numbers and credit card numbers are truncated, so you never have to worry about security. As a security precaution, we don’t even show your full financial information back to you.

Online Payment - Using the System

Will I receive a confirmation email that my bill has been paid?

Yes, you will receive a confirmation email.

Can I use an Apple /Mac to use the service?

Yes, many customers use Macs.

Can more than one person pay bills online for the same account?
There are two ways that payment responsibilities can be shared. If the other payer is part of your household, you may choose to share your login information with that individual. In a situation where personal financial data is not shared, you may forward your email notification to the individual, who will then click on the “View Invoice or Pay Now” button and elect to make a one time payment. They will need to enter their name, email address, address and payment information. They will receive the payment confirmation. You can verify their payment by viewing the invoices in your account.
Do I have to enter an email address to make a payment?

Yes, an email address is required for payment confirmation.   A payment receipt is sent via email.

Do I need to register to pay a bill?

You may need to register to receive electronic bills by email, but registration is not required for One Time Payments. One Time Payments require that you enter your payment information each time you make a payment. By registering, you avoid that step and gain access to your payment history. 

How do I find my account number to login?

Once you have registered, you will need only your email address and password to log in. To login the first time you use the system, you will need your account number or customer ID from your bill. The “locate your bill” screen gives instructions regarding the required information.

How Do I Register?
Registering is easy and can be done when you make a payment. There are two ways you can make a payment.
  1. When you receive an email notification that your bill is ready to paid, simply click on the “View Invoice or Pay Now” button. You will be directed to Providence Water’s “Pay and/or View Bills Online” site, powered by Invoice Cloud. Once there, you will be given the opportunity to register or make a One Time Payment. If you choose to register, you will be asked to provide a password and accept the terms and conditions to use the system. The payment information you enter in your profile will then be securely encrypted and saved for your next visit. 
  2. You can go directly to Providence Water’s website and click on the “Pay Online” button. You will then be directed to Providence Water’s “Pay and/or View Bills Online” site, powered by Invoice Cloud. Once there, you will need to locate your account and be given the opportunity to register or make a one time payment. If you choose to register, you will be asked to provide a password and accept the terms and conditions to use the system. The payment information you enter in your profile will then be securely encrypted and saved for your next visit. 
How does the system work?
It is very simple. Here are the 3 steps taken by customers:
  1. Customer receives email notification or accesses account via the Providence Water website by clicking on the “View Invoice or Pay Now” button.
  2. Customer locates and views invoice and either enters payment information for a “One Time Payment” or registers to schedule a payment.
  3. Customer receives an email confirmation with their payment amount and payment process date.
I forgot my Password, how do I find it?

You should click on “Forgotten Password?” at the bottom of the login screen. You will need your account number and email address to retrieve your password. If you’re unable to locate this information, you may call Providence Water, and after verifying your identity, Providence Water can provide you with the information.

What Browsers are supported?

The service supports all modern browsers.

Why should I register to pay a bill?
By registering, you have access to all of your invoices regardless of type and all of the features of the payment portal. These features include the ability to view all current invoices, see previous invoices and payment dates, update your profile information, access the online customer service system, go paperless (if bill type allows), schedule  payments for a specific dates, and sign up for Auto-Pay. You also avoid having to enter your payment information each time you pay a bill. 


What is orthophosphate and why is it being added to our drinking water?

Orthophosphate is a colorless, tasteless, odorless food-grade ingredient that has been approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Orthophosphate is being used by approximately 50% of the water utilities throughout the United States.  In 2006, the EPA selected orthophosphate treatment as the optimal corrosion control treatment for reducing lead in drinking water. The addition of orthophosphate will form a protective coating on the interior of pipes, which is expected to reduce the amount of lead that is released into the water from sources such as lead service lines, lead-based solder, and household plumbing. Elevated lead levels within drinking water have been found in some homes in Providence Water’s retail area.

Why did you select Orthophosphate?

In 2013, Providence Water organized a panel of nationally recognized drinking water experts (Expert Panel) to find the best form of corrosion control treatment for our system.  The Expert Panel recommended the use of orthophosphate, which was then approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health. Orthophosphate is approved by the EPA as the optimal corrosion control treatment for reducing lead and is used successfully throughout the United States.

Is Orthophosphate safe?

Yes. Orthophosphate is approved for use by the FDA, EPA, and the National Sanitation Foundation (NSF).  NSF is an independent international testing organization that certifies and writes standards for products, food, air, water and consumer goods in use.  According to the EPA, the typical phosphate levels found in a liter of drinking water are about one hundred times lower than the phosphate levels found in the average American diet. For example, a person would have to drink 10 to 15 liters of water to equal the amount of phosphates in just one can of soda.

Will Orthophosphate have any effect on my drinking water?

Orthophosphate should not affect the taste, color or smell of your drinking water.

Where else is Orthophosphate used?

Orthophosphate is used by approximately 50 percent of water utilities throughout the country. According to a 2010 survey conducted by the New England Water Works Association, more than half of the 194 New England water suppliers listed use a phosphate-based corrosion inhibitor.

How will Providence Water monitor the effects of orthophosphate?

Providence Water will continue to test the water on a regular basis to track the water quality and success of the orthophosphate. We will be adhering to an established monitoring process that has been approved by the Rhode Island Department of Health.

Will Orthophosphate in drinking water impact individual septic systems?

There is no evidence that orthophosphate levels found in drinking water will negatively impact septic system functionality.

What else is Providence Water Doing?

Providence Water has adopted a multi-pronged approach to reducing lead in tap water. In addition to improving corrosion control treatment, Providence Water is committed to water main rehabilitation, water main flushing and public education.

Providence Water is now offering 10-year, 0% interest loans for homeowners to replace private lead service lines.   If a homeowner replaces the private-side service line, Providence Water will automatically replace the public side at no cost. To find out if a residence has a public lead service line, please visit the interactive map on our website at www.provwater.com/lead.

It is important to note that even if a home does not have a public lead service line, it may still have a private lead service pipe, or lead in fixtures or household plumbing.  Providence Water is offering free lead testing to all retail customers in Providence, Cranston, North Providence, Johnston, and the eastern portion of Smithfield.  To have a free lead test kit mailed to your home or business, please contact our Water Quality Hotline at 401-521-6303.

Water Quality

Can I test my water at home as part of a science project?

There are some low cost test kits available from science shops, aquarium/pet stores, and swimming pool vendors, however, these kits are generally designed for quick, approximate answers; and may not be available in ranges applicable to your needs. At Providence Water, we use instruments specifically designed for measuring drinking water contaminants in the part per billion (ppb) and parts per million (ppm) range. Many of our chemical examinations are conducted using electrochemical and/or spectrophotometric methodologies. These procedures rely on equipment which can range in cost from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands dollars each; and provide a level of accuracy not possible outside the laboratory environment. Our microbial enumeration procedures often involve selective media cultivation, making home analysis equally unperformable.

How is my drinking water treated to make it safe?

Providence Water utilizes a water treatment technology known as "Conventional Treatment" in its water purification plant. In conventional treatment, multiple treatment techniques are strung together in series to create an efficient and cost effective method of water purification. Providence Water employs all of the following technologies in an effort to produce the most consistent and safest water available:

  1. Coagulation - Chemical addition of Ferric Sulfate Fe2(SO4)3·xH2O as a coagulant to attract and bind impurities for removal.
  2. Aeration - Physical process whereby oxidation of water is achieved to aid in the removal of iron/manganese impurities and foul odors/tastes.
  3. Corrosion Control - Chemical addition of Quicklime (CaO3) to adjust the pH/alkalinity levels of the water to minimize the corrosion of plumbing lines.
  4. Sedimentation - Physical process which allows the coagulated impurities and leftover excess ferric (iron) from the coagulation step to settle out of the water column.
  5. Filtration - Physical process designed to remove tiny impurities still present in the water after the coagulation - sedimentation step.
  6. Disinfection - Chemical addition of chlorine (Cl2) which is added to inactivate potential disease causing microbial contaminants.
  7. Fluoridation - Chemical addition of Fluorosilicic Acid (H2SiF6) to elevate the natural fluoride level in the water to the optimum value of 0.7 mg/l for dental cavity prevention in children.

All these processes are combined in an effort to provide water quality that is reliable and safe for consumption.

How many 8 oz. glasses of water can you get for $0.01?

 Customers can get (48) 8 oz. glasses of water for $0.01.

How many gallons are needed to fill a standard swimming pool?

The average swimming pool takes 22,000 gallons of water to fill.  If you don't cover it, you could lose hundreds of gallons of water per month due to evaporation.

How many gallons of water can you get for the cost of a cup of coffee?

 Customers can get 675 gallons of water for the cost of a cup of coffee.

How much chlorine is in my water?

Chlorine is used as the primary disinfectant by many water suppliers, including Providence Water. Federal legislation known as the Surface Water Treatment Rule, promulgated in 1989, necessitated changes in the way disinfectants such as chlorine are applied. Since that time, Providence Water has endeavored to maintain as low a residual chlorine level as possible and still continue to meet the requirements of the regulation. Providence Water's residual free chlorine level for water leaving the treatment plant varies from 0.30 to 1.00 parts per million, considerably lower than many neighboring water supplies in RI, and the in United States as a whole, which often have residual chlorine levels at the consumer tap in excess of 1.00 mg/l.

How much does a gallon of water weigh?

A gallon of water weighs 8.34 pounds.

How much water is used to take a shower?

A five-minute shower uses only 10 to 25 gallons of water.

I am concerned about lead in my drinking water. How can I get more information?

While the vast majority of lead poisoning occurs due to ingestion of lead contaminated paint chips, dust, and soil; drinking water has also been implicated as a source of lead consumption. Lead enters the drinking water supply predominated by leaching from the home's interior plumbing lines and/or lead service line. The home's interior plumbing pipes are often made of copper, connected with lead/tin solder. In 1987, the use of lead/tin solder for connecting and repairing drinking water plumbing pipes was banned. However, lead solder is still present in the water lines of many homes constructed prior to 1987. In addition, the water line which connects the large water main in the street to the home's water meter is in many cases made of lead. At one time lead was the material of choice for this application due to its durability and flexibility. Copper, connected with lead free solder, is now the accepted industry standard.

Although not all homes have a lead service line, there are approximately 20,000 such lines still in existence in the Providence Water system. Test results have shown that the highest concentration of lead occur in water that has been allowed to stand undisturbed in a home's interior plumbing. This allows the contact time necessary for leaching to occur from the lead solder and/or the lead service line to the drinking water. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Providence Water recommend that whenever water has been standing undisturbed in the pipes for long periods, such as overnight, or even during the day, that the cold water be run until it reaches its coldest temperature prior to using it for cooking or drinking purpose. This flushing removes potentially lead contaminated water from the water pipes and allows lead free water from the street to be used for consumption. As a conservation measure, the water that is flushed may be captured and used for plant watering or other non-consumption purpose. In addition to flushing, there are numerous home treatment devices on the market which claim to reduce lead in drinking water. Many do work, however, not all manufactures claims are accurate.

I have low water pressure in my kitchen faucet. What could be the problem?

You may need to clean your kitchen faucet's aerator to clear out any particulates that may have accumulated.  Once the aerator screen has been cleaned out the water pressure at your sink should return to normal.

Is discolored water dangerous?

No. Discolored water is not a health threat even though it is not very appealing to drink. Even very low levels of iron can color the water.

Is it OK to use hot water from the tap for cooking?

Using hot water straight from the tap for cooking is generally not recommended. Hot water is more likely to contain dissolved metals such as iron, copper and lead, picked up from the household plumbing and hot water tank. A better idea is to allow your cold water to run for a few minutes until good and cold, then use this water for cooking and other consumption purposes. Allowing the water to run to its coldest insures adequate flushing of the home's water service line and the interior household plumbing, which have both been identified as sources of copper and lead contamination in drinking water.

Is there fluoride in my water?

Fluoride is a natural trace element found in varying amounts in almost all soils and water supplies. At optimum concentrations, fluoride has been shown to reduce dental cavities in children. In 1962, Providence Water began adding fluoride to the drinking water. The fluoride concentration in the Providence Water system is maintained at 0.7 parts per million.

My water pressure is low in every faucet in my house. Who should I contact?

For assistance, please call Providence Water at (401) 521-6300.

On average, how much water a typical family uses over one year?

 In one year, the average residence uses over 100,000 gallons (indoors and outdoors).

What is my water's hardness?

Total hardness is defined as the sum of calcium and magnesium ion concentrations, expressed as mg/l calcium carbonate. It is the measure of the capacity of water to precipitate soap. Water that is hard will make lathering difficult or 'hard' to achieve, hence the term. Some new appliances, such as dishwashers, require set-up based upon the hardness of the water supply. At Providence Water, the hardness of the water is adjusted to a level of 40 parts per million (approx. 2.3 grains per gallon).

What is the average daily usage of all Providence Water's customers?

The average daily use of all Providence Water customers is 60.85 million gallons per day.

What should I do if I see discolored water?

Providence Water recommends that you flush your water until you get clear water from the main. If it is still discolored after several minutes of flushing, you may need to wait a couple of hours until the sediment settles, and the water in the main clears. Then try flushing again. If it does not clear within a few hours, please call again. Providence Water may need to flush the main.

When the water is discolored, it is recommended to not do laundry or run the hot water (to prevent sediment getting into your hot water tank). If it is necessary to do laundry, use stain remover or a regular detergent with the wash. Use of chlorine bleach is not recommended, as this could make the situation worse.

Filtering or treating the water may remedy chronic or persistent iron-tinted water problems, however Providence Water does not endorse specific filtering devices. If you decide to use a filtration or treatment device in your home we recommend use of a National Science Foundation (NSF) listed device. In addition, we strongly recommend that the device be maintained according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Failure to maintain this type of equipment properly may make treatment ineffective and may create the potential for contamination.

Who is Providence Water's largest consumer?

The State of Rhode Island is our largest consumer.

Why is my water discolored?

Iron-tinted discolored water may occur because of sediment in the pipes or rust which has built up on the inside walls of older water mains. This sediment can be disturbed and subsequently suspended in the water due to an increase or change in water flow which may be caused by water main breaks, routine maintenance, flow direction changes or the use and flushing of a nearby fire hydrant.

Failing hot water heaters in properties are also a source of discolored water. If the discoloration comes only when you run the hot water in your property, check the condition of your hot water heater. Discolored water from the cold water faucet usually signals an issue with the water mains in the street or the property’s internal plumbing.

Discolored water can be a chronic problem in areas where there are older cast iron mains. Replacement, rehabilitation and cleaning of these older mains will provide relief -- however such solutions are expensive and take time. It is important to call Providence Water when you have a chronic problem, so we can try to provide a temporary solution until the main can be renovated.

Why is my water sometimes "cloudy" or "milky" looking in the winter?

During the winter months, Providence Water's Water Quality Laboratory receives numerous telephone calls from concerned customers regarding cloudy water. Our experience has shown that the cloudiness is simply the result of excess air in the water. Under certain conditions, water is capable of becoming supersaturated with dissolved air. This is a common occurrence during the winter months of the year and is due to the ability of cold water to retain large quantities of dissolved air, which is kept in solution mainly by temperature and pressure. As the water temperature is increased and the pressure released (as in opening the faucet) the dissolved air rapidly comes out of solution, imparting a temporary, cloudy appearance to the water. The "cloudy" appearance is due to the sudden formation of tiny air bubbles which slowly rise to the top. This condition usually lasts a minute or two, after which time the water will clear. Although it is not a health hazard, entrapped air can impart an aesthetically unpleasant appearance to the water. If the consumer finds this appearance too unappetizing, a simple remedy is to fill a container with cold water and place it on the counter or in the refrigerator. Under normal pressure conditions, the air will quickly dissipate in a few minutes and the water may then be used for drinking and cooking purposes.