Minutes of the October 20, 2016 Meeting of the

Representative Advisory Board to the

Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority

Montville Public Safety Building

911 Norwich-New London Turnpike, Uncasville, CT

 

 

 

1.  Call to Order and Roll Call

Chairman Allen called the meeting to order at approximately 7:05 p.m.

Present: 
Representative Advisory Board: (RAB) Members:  Steven Coit, Bozrah; Martin Artale Jr., Groton (City);  Mary Lou Smith, Groton (Town);  Timothy Norris, Ledyard; Michael Macina, North Stonington;  Rodney Bowie, Norwich;  James Fogarty and George Jackson, Salem; Chairman Dennison Allen, Sprague;  Michael Adair; Stonington Borough.

 

Authority Members:  Chairman Edward Monahan, Harry Watson, Paul Eccard, Peter Balestracci, Michael O’Connor. 

 

Authority Staff:   General Manager Josh Cansler

 

2.  Public Comment  

RAB member Timothy Norris discussed a recent presentation at Connecticut College called “Traveling the 38th Parallel: A Water Line around the World”.  The presentation addressed the state of water resources from a global perspective by comparing water at various locations around the world along the 38th parallel.  The 38th parallel, which divides North and South Korea, represents a diversity of societal, geographical, and climatic extremes, in countries such as China, Greece, Spain and the United States.  The presentation chronicled the travels of David and Janet Carle of Mono Lake, California (which is crossed by the 38th parallel in California) as they met people confronting challenges in water supply, pollution, wetlands loss, and habitat protection on their journey around the globe.  The presentation was hosted by the Southeast Connecticut World Affairs Council (SECWAC).

 

Chairman Allen thanked Mr. Norris for his account of the presentation, and stated that is was relevant to issues facing SCWA and Southeastern Connecticut.  It was mentioned that several local utilities including Norwich and Mystic Aquarion had recently implemented water conservation measures.  Mr. Fogarty said that he was surprised that they hadn’t heard of more shallow wells failing.  Mr. Jackson mentioned that past studies at the Naval War College have analyzed various scenarios where the issue of water resources, and water rights, could possibly lead to major wars in the future. 

 

Mr. Norris commented that he had noticed recently that the reservoir in Ledyard, owned by Groton Utilities, had dropped to the point where new islands were beginning to pop up in the reservoir. 

 

3.  Approval of Prior Minutes – Vote Required

On motion of Mr. Jackson, seconded by Ms. Smith, the minutes of the July 21, 2016 meeting were unanimously approved, as distributed. 

 

 

 

4.  Report By The Authority Chairman

Dr. Monahan presented the Authority report, with highlights as follows: 

 

I.  Operational Activities

 

A.  Drought Issues - Montville

Due to the drought conditions resulting from much lower than average rainfall this summer, and increased usage from customers in the Montville Manor Subdivision, the wells serving that division were not able to keep up with their water demands in mid-August.  As a result SCWA sent out a notice restricting most outdoor water usage.  In addition we did a leak survey, and repaired two main breaks.   As result of the leak repairs, and water restrictions that were implemented, the usage dropped back down to winter usage levels, and so far, the wells have managed to keep up.  SCWA field staff is continuing to check the tanks daily, including weekends, to ensure water levels remain consistent. 

 

Dr. Monahan stated that SCWA has not experienced problems related to the drought at any other SCWA divisions to date, although usage at most areas has been much higher than usual.  At the Hillcrest Division we have had to purchase more water than usual through the interconnection with Montville.  

 

B.  Extension of Services on Fairway Drive -Ledyard

Chairman Monahan said that he and General Manager Cansler have met with Mayor Finkelstein, his staff, and the Ledyard WPCA several times since March to discuss water supply to potential commercial customers along a proposed extension of Fairway Drive in Ledyard Center.  This includes an Aquatic Center, planned for 2017.   SCWA hired Lenard Engineering to conduct an engineering feasibility study.  They proposed an emergency interconnection to the Ledyard system, to meet anticipated fire flow requirements for future Fairway Drive development.  

 

In August the Ledyard WPCA indicated they favored a proposal to support the new Aquatic Center from a water main running their line along 117 to the aquatic Center site, approximately 700 feet.  This solution would require SCWA to purchase water from Groton Utilities, via the Ledyard WPCA, at a neutral cost for both WPCA and SCWA, for the new Aquatic Center, until such time that SCWA can provide service from our existing pump station in Ledyard Division.  

 

In early September, when it became apparent to the SCWA participants in the Ledyard-SCWA meetings that plans had not been developed for the completion of Fairway Drive to Route 117, SCWA proposed an alternate solution.  We recommended a main extension from the apartments served by SCWA along Iron Street (Route 214) to the edge of the Aquatic Center property, a distance of only 300 feet, if an easement could be obtained by the landowner between the two properties.  This will keep the water service project for the Aquatic Center entirely within the SCWA system, and not require coordination with multiple utilities.  This solution would also provide income from the Aquatic Center since we not be purchasing water from Groton Utilities, via Ledyard WPCA.  If the easement cannot be obtained, then another alternative would be to run the main extension along Iron Street from the apartments, a distance of approximately 430 feet.

 

 

 

 

In late September, Dave Holdridge, representing the landowner of all the vacant Fairway Drive lands met with Mr. Cansler and stated that they were going to pursue a well for the Aquatic Center property, until such time in the future that the Fairway Drive is developed, and SCWA runs a main along the expansion.  Mr. Holdridge asked if SCWA would agree to run/monitor the well. 

 

Dr. Monahan stated that SCWA was supportive of the efforts to increase water service in Ledyard and that we intended to do whatever we could do to provide water to the new Aquatic Center, and ultimately the Fairway Drive extension if/when that is developed.  He also discussed how Ledyard in the past has spread the cost of providing fire hydrants and fire protection capacity for their Ledyard WPCA customers to the Town’s entire tax base, including SCWA customers. 

 

C.  Transfer of Lantern Hill Division

In June 2016, PURA (Public Utility Regulatory Agency), DPH (Department of Public Health), and the CT Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) held public hearings in Stonington and New Britain to consider the proposed transfer the Lantern Hill Division from SCWA to Aquarion Water Company.  SCWA currently provides water to only 23 residential customers in the Lantern Hill Division.  Aquarion has a large pump station a few hundred yards from Lantern Hill, and a water main that passes within 100 feet of the current SCWA Lantern Hill distribution system. 

 

After the hearings, OCC expressed concern about Aquarion’s intent to lower the Lantern Hill customer rates to their Eastern Connecticut rate.  Aquarion has responded to OCCs concerns in August, and both Aquarion and SCWA are awaiting a decision from PURA regarding the transfer.   Dr. Monahan mentioned that the rate increase proposed by OCC was minimal. 

 

D.  Trailer-mounted Mobile Pump Station Project

In preparation for the Chesterfield project, and other similar projects to follow over the next few years, SCWA intends to construct a trailer-mounted pump station that can be used to operate our regular pump stations during renovation projects, and/or emergency repairs.  At the June 2016 meeting the Authority approved the General Manager to spend up to $50,000 to construct the trailer-mounted pump station.  SCWA purchased a new 20 x 8 enclosed trailer for $6500, and ordered a new booster pump skid package for $23,000 from FW Webb, through the State Contract.  Additional costs will include electrical panels, wiring, and piping.   The pump skid package finally arrived the first week in October. 

 

E.  Montville Oakdale Elementary School Water Supply

In 2015 the Authority approved supporting the Montville Oakdale Elementary School either as a primary and/or back-up water provider.  The school currently acquires their water from an on-site well system.  In July 2016 SCWA met with Montville Schools to discuss connection costs and requirements.  SCWA has also provided requested information regarding average water bill should they connect to the SCWA system.   The information provided was forwarded to the Montville Schools Finance Committee for review. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

II.  Planning Activities

 

A.  Water Supply Plan

Per the terms of the September 2015 Consent Agreement between SCWA, and DPH, we are required to submit an updated Water Supply Plan to DPH no later than January 1, 2018.   In August General Manager Cansler sent a Request for Proposal (RFP) to four engineering firms that are experienced with the development of Water Supply Plans in the State of Connecticut.   SCWA received bids back from two firms; Tighe & Bond, and Lenard Engineering.  Both bid packages were very similar, and demonstrated that both firms were both capable of completing a Water Supply Plan.  Based on the similarity of the two proposals, the Authority decided to select Lenard Engineering to complete the water Supply Plan because they have a greater familiarity with the SCWA systems, and their lump sum bid ($24,000) was lower.    

 

B.  DWSRF (Drinking Water State Revolving Fund) Projects

The State DPH Drinking Water Section is expected to issue a Call for Projects this fall for Fiscal Years 2018 and 2019.  Financing through the DWSRF includes a low-interest loan with the potential for subsidization to eligible projects in the form of principal forgiveness to the extent allowed by Federal and/or State law.  SCWA has hired Lenard Engineering to prepare our response to the DWSRF Call for Project applications, which will include requested support for three proposed projects. Leonard Engineering’s fee will be $4,500 ($1,500 per project) for the preparation of SCWA’s applications.   The three projects are:  Renovation of Tower/Ferry View Pump Station, Interconnection between Montville and Seven Oaks systems, and Expansion of the Ledyard system to include emergency interconnection with Ledyard WPCA system. 

 

C. State Water Plan and Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCC)

Pursuant to Public Act 14-163, a State Water Plan for the management of water resources in the State of Connecticut is required to be presented by the State Water Planning Council (WPC), to the General Assembly by January 1, 2018.  In conjunction with State Water Plan, DPH is convening three regional Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs).   The Eastern Connecticut WUCC officially convened in June 2016.  Future WUCC member meetings will be every second Wednesday of the month at the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) Office, at 1 pm.  These meetings are open to the public.   At the August WUCC meeting General Manager Cansler was selected to serve on the ESA (Exclusive Service Area) sub-committee.  There have been two meetings of the ESA (Exclusive Service Area) sub-committee to date, both held at the SCWA Conference room in Gales Ferry. 

 

D. SCWA Interaction with SCCOG 

SCWA and the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) continue to interact cooperatively.  To this end, Chairman Monahan routinely attends the regular monthly SCCOG meetings, and frequently the SCCOG Regional Water Committee meetings as well.

 

SCWA’s General Manager is participating on the SCCOG Regional Water Committee’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TAS).  SCWA welcomes this opportunity to assist SCCOG on technical matters. 

 

 

 

 

III.  Administrative Activities

 

2017 Meeting Schedule

(Attachment #1 – 2017 Meeting schedule)

Dr. Monahan stated that attached to his report is a schedule of meetings for both the Authority and Representative Advisory Board (RAB), along with locations and times of each meeting.  The Quarterly RAB meetings are held on the third Thursdays of January, April, July, and October, at rotating locations, within the SCWA district.  Authority meetings are generally held on the second Monday of each month, unless the Monday conflicts with a holiday.  Dr. Monahan noted that the Authority had already approved the Authority meeting schedule, and that the members of the Representative Advisory Board would need to approve the 2017 RAB meeting schedule.

 

5.  Discussion of increase of Authority Board member stipends for Authority Meetings

Chairman Allen stated that the issue of increasing the meeting stipends for members of the seven member Authority Board had been added to this meeting’s agenda.  General Manager Cansler stated that in 2016 the Authority changed their regular meeting schedule from every three weeks to monthly, a decrease from 17 to 12 meetings annually.  He stated that as a result the length of the meetings has increased by approximately 30 minutes, on average.  It was mentioned that the last change in the stipend amount was in 2003.  After some discussion regarding changes to the stipend, Fogarty made a motion to increase the Authority member meeting stipends from $75/meeting to $100/meeting.  This motion, seconded by Ms. Smith, was approved with 8 votes in favor, one opposed, and one abstention.  This stipend only applies to meetings attended, starting at the next Authority meeting in November 2016. 

 

6.  Report by the Chairman of the Representative Advisory Board

Chairman Allen stated that the RAB needed to vote on the proposed meeting schedule for next year.  Mr. Norris made a motion to approve the 2017 RAB meeting schedule, as presented in the Chairman’s Report (Para. 4, III).  This motion, seconded by Mr. Jackson, was unanimously approved by all present.

 

Chairman Allen also mentioned that RAB Committee Chairmen needed to take a look at their committees, and evaluate their requirements and responsibilities, prior to the next RAB meeting in January.

 

7.  Representative Advisory Board Member Reports  - none

 

8.  New Business   - none

 

9.  Adjourn

On motion of Mr. Jackson, seconded by Mr. Bowie, the meeting adjourned at approximately

7:56 p.m.

 

 

                                                                                                                Josh Cansler, Secretary

                                                                                                                Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority