TORRINGTON — The City of Newport held a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday, October 17, with local and state officials to mark the start of construction of a new Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant in Portsmouth and upgrades to the treatment processes at the Station No. 1 Water Treatment Plant in Newport.

The event was held at the Station No. 1 Water Treatment Plant at 100 Bliss Mine Road in Newport and featured remarks by Newport Mayor Henry F. Winthrop, Senator M.Theresa Paiva-Weed, Anthony Simeone, RI Clean Water Finance Agency, Julia Forgue, Director of Utilities and members of the technical project team.

In January 2012 the Newport City Council awarded a design build contract valued at $67 million for the water treatment plant improvements to the joint venture of Wakefield, Massachusetts-based AECOM and Torrington, Connecticut-based C.H. Nickerson & Company.

Assisting in the oversight of the project as the City’s Advisor is the engineering firm CDM Smith Inc. The project includes the design and construction of a new Lawton Valley water treatment plant and improvements to the Station No. 1 water treatment plant. These new facilities are scheduled to be in service by December 31, 2014.


The Lawton Valley and Station No. 1 plants provide drinking water to Newport Water Division’s 14,500 retail customers in Newport, Middletown and Portsmouth as well as the wholesale customers at Naval Station Newport and the Portsmouth Water and Fire District.

The project will improve drinking water quality for all Aquidneck Island water users and responds to a mandate by the Rhode Island Department of Health to reduce the amount of trihalomethanes in treated water. Trihalomethanes are disinfectant by-products that are formed when natural organics in the water react with chlorine that is added to the water for disinfection.

“We are excited for construction to begin on a project that will improve the quality and taste of the water our ratepayers use on a daily basis,” said Newport Mayor Henry F. Winthrop. “Nothing is more important than ensuring that the people of Aquidneck Island have a safe, reliable water supply that is of the highest quality. This project is the means by which we will make that happen.”

The Lawton Valley Water Treatment Plant is currently designed to treat 7 million gallons of water every day. It will undergo a full demolition and will be replaced by a more efficient facility with the same capacity.

The Station No. 1 Water Treatment Plant was originally designed to treat 9 million gallons of water each day; however, due to age-related degeneration it is only able to reliably treat 6 million gallons a day. The upgrades will restore the treatment capacity back to 9 million gallons per day.

The upgrades at both facilities will incorporate an advanced water treatment process using granular activated carbon contactors, which will remove organics from the water as well as improve the aesthetic quality in terms of taste and odor. Once completed, the Newport water treatment plants will be the only facilities in Rhode Island to have advanced treatment.

This complex project required that an integrated solution be designed to provide the right mix of filtration and treatment to treat water coming from multiple sources. Unlike most systems that use a single water source, the Newport treatment plants rely on nine reservoirs with a wide range of water quality and susceptibility to algae blooms and weather patterns.

C.H. Nickerson’s construction plans will allow both facilities to remain fully operational, even as the extensive renovations are underway.

“Our C.H. Nickerson team will use its experience and design expertise to keep both water treatment facilities online during construction, and will complete these two projects on-time and on-budget,” said Jon Miller, President of C.H. Nickerson & Company. “Both plants will be completed to the high standard of excellence the City of Newport requires and deserves.”