PASCOAG, R.I. – Residents here are looking to Rhode Island State Employees Credit Union for some relief from their growing water crisis. Since unsafe levels of the gasoline additive methyl tertiary-butyl ether (MTBE) were found in the town’s water supply on September 1, residents here have been unable to use their water to drink, brush their teeth or cook and must even limit their exposure to the contaminated water when bathing or doing laundry. In response, RISECU has purchased and is distributing one-gallon bottles of water to members and water department customers through the end of the year. “We recognize that this situation will continue for longer than anyone originally expected and want to do our part as members of this community,” said RISECU President Paul Filippone. Since MTBE does not break down, the additive, which replaced lead in gasoline and helps gasoline burn cleaner and reduces smog, can contaminate large quantities of ground water in relatively small amounts of gasoline.MTBE levels in the Pascoag wells, which supply water to approximately 1,200 homes and businesses, are at 10 times the maximum level recommended by the state. The rush is on to trace the contaminant’s source and links have been made to a past fuel spill at a Mobil station, since closed. Pascoag water officials are providing each household six gallons of bottled water per week. In addition, officials are looking into alternative sources of water and ways to treat the contaminated water. Committed to providing residents another water resource, the Providence-based $139 million credit union purchases 240 gallons of water every two weeks and Fridays from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. have been designated water distribution day at the RISECU Pascoag branch. An average of 100-150 people per week come into the branch for water. Despite the Department of Public Works dedication to restoring the town’s water, it may still be months before residents can use their water. [email protected]

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