Minutes of the January 21, 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 7:00 p.m.

Present: 
Representative Advisory Board: (RAB) Members:  Mark Nickerson and Carol Russell, East Lyme;

Marian Galbraith and Martin Artale Jr., Groton (City);  Dean Antipas and Mary Lou Smith, Groton (Town);  Timothy Norris, Ledyard; Anthony Siragusa, Montville; Barry Weiner, New London; Michael Macina, North Stonington, Rodney Bowie, Norwich, Jerry Morales, Preston;  James Fogarty, Salem; Chairman Dennison Allen and Jack Malone, Sprague;  Jeffrey Callahan and Michael Adair; Stonington Borough. 

 

Authority Members:  Chairman Edward Monahan, Vice-Chairman Harry Watson, Treasurer Paul Eccard, Barbara Lee Franciosi, Peter Balestracci and Mike O’Connor. 

 

Authority Staff:   General Manager Josh Cansler

 

2.  Public Comment  - Member Rodney Bowie wanted to state for the record that Groton Water is setting a great example for Southeastern Connecticut.  He briefly discussed how Groton Water has grown over the years, and continued to be a standard for water in the area.

3.  Approval of Prior Minutes – Vote Required

On motion of Mr. Bowie, seconded by Mr. Callahan, the minutes of the October 15, 2015 meeting were unanimously approved, as distributed. 

 

4.  FY 2014 Audit Report Presentation by Cohn, Reznick, Independent Auditors

Mr. Joe Centofanti from the Audit Firm CohnReznick, presented the Fiscal Year 2015 Independent Auditor’s Report.  He stated that the audit’s findings were favorable, noting the following:  the report rendered an “unmodified, clean opinion”; “no material weakness” was identified; “no compliance violations” were noted; and no “memorandums to management” were required.  He reviewed various components of the audit report, including:  the statement of net position; the balance sheet; and the statement of revenues, expenses and changes in net position.  He noted that all of the prior year’s audit report’s recommendations had been satisfactorily addressed.  He stated that the organization was in a financially sound condition. 

 

5.  Finance Committee Report

Chairman Allen reported that the RAB Finance Committee met with Mr. Centofanti earlier in the evening to discuss the FY 2015 Independent Auditor’s Report.  He stated that the members of the committee present were satisfied with the report.  Chairman Allen and the RAB Finance Committee recommended the RAB accept the FY 2015 Audit. 

 

 

 

6.  Acceptance of FY 2014 Audit Report

On motion of Ms. Smith, seconded by Mr. Callahan, the RAB voted unanimously to accept the FY 2015 Audit Report as presented by CohnReznick.

 

7.  Selection of Independent Auditor for FY 2015

Prior to discussion, General Manager Cansler stated that he had received proposed fees from

Mr. Centofanti from CohnReznick to conduct the 2016-2018 independent annual audits.  The RAB had requested proposed fees from CohnReznick for the next three years prior to assessing the need to conduct an open bid for upcoming annual audits.  CohnReznick’s proposed fees for the next three years annul audits are:

 

2016   $15,750

2017   $16,225

2018   $16,700

 

Two to three members questioned whether we should continue to use the same auditor again.  Although several other members did not disagree with bidding out the annual audit, they stated that previous open bids for the audits had resulted in very few responses, and higher proposed fees from new audit firms.  There was some discussion of accepting part of the first two years fees from CohnReznick, but Chairman Allen stated that CohnReznick most likely based their overall estimates on a three year commitment.  He felt that if we wanted to go with less than 3 years, we should allow CohnReznick the opportunity to propose new fees for a shorter commitment.  Mr. Callahan stated that the proposed fees were lower than the audit fees for Stonington Borough, which has a higher budget.  Authority member Mr. Eccard said that our current audit agency had been with us for a long time, and pointed out the advantages of staying with a firm that is familiar with our unique Authority budget. 

Mr. Siragusa stated that during his tenure he has seen this same discussion several times, and that rather than rehash old discussions, the RAB should use their previous successes regarding this audit selection as their guideline.  Several members echoed his comments.  Mr. Weiner made a motion to retain the services of CohnReznick, to conduct the SCWA independent annual audits for the next three years, for the aforementioned proposed fees of $15,750 in 2016, $16,225 in 2017, $16,700 in 2018.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Bowie, was unanimously approved by all RAB members present.

 

8.  Report By The Authority Chairman

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

 

I.  Operational Activities

 

A.  Consent Agreement with Department of Health

In September 2015, the State Department of Public Health (DPH), Drinking Water Section, and SCWA signed a Consent Agreement.  In the agreement SCWA agreed to three requirements:

 

                1.  Replace the Pump Station in North Stonington by November 30, 2015.  The existing Pump Station was destroyed when a pressure tank ruptured and burst.  The force of the rupture caused extensive damage to all of the equipment at the Pump Station, and caused the walls and roof to collapse. 

 

                2.  Develop Asset Management Plans encompassing all 15 divisions by July 1, 2016.  SCWA has awarded a contract to Lenard Engineering for $12,500 to develop the Asset Management Plans.  SCWA has used Lenard Engineering on many projects over the past 50 years, and they are very familiar with our pump stations and systems.

 

                                3.  Update the SCWA Water Supply Plan by January 1, 2018. 

 

On December 29, 2015 DPH hosted a teleconference to discuss completion of the pump station project at North Stonington, and status of the Asset Management Plans.  Teleconference participants included Lori Mathieu and Tom Chyra from the DPH Drinking Water Section, Jim Ericson from Lenard Engineering, Josh Cansler and Dr. Monahan from SCWA.  This meeting went very well.  DPH seemed satisfied with our progress on both issues.

 

B.  North Stonington Pump Station Replacement

The new pump station at North Stonington was completed and operational the last week in December.  DPH did a final inspection on December 31st and issued an Acknowledgement of Completion the same day.  In November SCWA requested, and received, an extension to the completion date because the delivery of the skid-mounted pump package was delayed by 5 weeks.  The new pump station uses three variable speed pumps, and does not have any hydro pneumatic pressure tanks, such as the one that ruptured in June of last year. 

 

To date, SCWA has been reimbursed a total of $385,390.75 by our insurance company for costs resulting from the rupture of the tank at North Stonington, and replacement of the pump station there.  Our expenses for this project have totaled $411,356.67 to date.  The insurance company has indicated they may cover additional claims associated with the project.  We are waiting on several final bills from various subcontractors before submitting a request for final reimbursement. 

 

C.  Transfer of Lantern Hill Division to Aquarion

Mr. Cansler met with Aquarion on June 10th to discuss possible alternatives to providing water to the 23 residents in Lantern Hill currently using SCWA water.   On August 10, 2015 the Authority voted unanimously to have the General Manager follow through with Aquarion to transition the Lantern Hill division over to Aquarion.  The General Manager, our attorney, and Aquarion are still working various details for the transfer.  

 

Mr. Callahan asked if Lantern Hill was SCWA’s only division in Stonington.  General Manager Cansler stated that it was.  Chairman Monahan and Mr. Cansler explained to the RAB how the Lantern Hill pump station would require multiple upgrades, and that Aquarion had a main that ran within 150 feet of our system.   

 

D.  Chesterfield Water

The next big project SCWA plans to undertake is a complete overhaul of the Chesterfield Pump Station in Montville.  Over the past few months we have received calls regarding discoloration of the water, as a result of high iron and manganese levels in the water, which is prevalent in the groundwater in this area.  This past fall SCWA had the storage tank cleaned, and installed additional flushing hydrants, however this has not eliminated the discoloration completely.  On January 11, 2016 the Authority authorized the General Manager to hire Lenard Engineering to design a new treatment and storage system at Chesterfield.  Their design/engineering fee is a lump sum of $6,500.  This project will include eliminating the two hydro pneumatic pressure tanks. 

 

In light of recent news developments regarding lead in the water issues around the country

Mr. Weiner asked if we had potential concerns.  General Manager Cansler, referring the ongoing problems in Flint, Michigan explained that our water, which comes from wells needs much less treatment than surface water such as the Flint River.  Surface water not only requires more chlorine, which can be corrosive, but that surface water tends to be more corrosive, especially to lead and iron pipes.  Mr. Cansler also pointed out that we don’t have any iron mains, or lead service connections.  He finished by pointing out that we do regular lead and copper testing.

 

II.  Planning Activities

 

A. 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.  The WPC has assembled a Steering Committee to coordinate the development of the Plan.  In conjunction with State Water Plan, DPH has coordinated the activities of the three Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs).   Through his participation on the Advisory Group to the Connecticut Water Planning Council (WPC), our General Manager has been monitoring the development of the State Water Plan, and the Eastern Connecticut WUCC. 

 

                B. 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

 

A.  New Office Space for SCWA

On November 9, 2015 the Authority approved moving the SCWA offices to the space previously occupied by the “Ledyard Dairy”, on the first floor of the same building where we currently have second floor offices.  Our present space is not easily accessible to the public, and does not meet ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) requirements.  In addition our present space, which needs significant upgrades, is too small for our needs.  Currently we have to borrow conference space from another company on the first floor to hold meetings.   The Authority approved additional walls and new flooring for the new space, which should be ready for move-in by early February.   The SCWA address and phone numbers will remain the same. 

 

B.  Legislation of Fluoride in Drinking Water

At the last Representative Advisory Board, Representative Russell addressed the RAB regarding her concerns about fluoride in water, and proposed changes in legislation regulating fluoride in drinking water, by the State of Connecticut.   After some discussion, the RAB approved a motion to have General Manager Cansler address this issue with the Connecticut Water Works Association (CWWA) Legislative Affairs Committee.  Mr. Cansler presented this issue for inclusion in the Legislative Affairs Committee Agenda for 2016.  However, the Legislative Affairs Committee was not interested in adding this issue to the 2016 Agenda because it was already discussed in a previous session, and the CWWA has already agreed they will support efforts by the State to amend state law authorizing public water systems to lower the fluoride level consistent with changes in the federal law.

 

Ms. Russell stated that she felt that the CWWA Legislative Affairs Committee had not given the information she had provided it due diligence and that she had new information regarding this issue.  Dr. Monahan stated that if she had new information that it should be presented under New Business with a request to the RAB that her issue be added as a new agenda item.

 

9.  Report By The Chairman of the Representative Advisory Board

Chairman Allen thanked the RAB Finance Committee and then turned the meeting over to the Appointment Committee Chairman.     

 

10.  Appointment Committee Report

Mr. Callahan reported that the Authority had two members whose 5-year terms had expired.  One of the Authority member positions is nominated and appointed by the RAB members.  Mr. Callahan recommended the RAB re-appoint Mr. Peter Balestracci for another term on the Authority.  The other Authority member position is nominated by the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) and appointed by the RAB.  The SCCOG nominated Mr. Harry Watson, the incumbent, to serve another term on the Authority.   Mr. Callahan asked if anyone had any objection to these nominations.  There were no objections. 

 

Mr. Callahan also reported there are three Representative Advisory Board Officer positions needed to be appointed by RAB each year.  Those three RAB Officer positions are Chairman, Vice-Chairman, and Secretary.  Mr. Callahan stated that Chairman Allen and Vice-Chairman Antipas have agreed to continue to serve in these offices if elected by the RAB to do so.  He stated that there were no known candidates interested in serving as Secretary. 

 

11.  Authority Appointment

On motion of Mr. Callahan, seconded by Mr. Fogarty, the RAB unanimously voted to appoint Mr. Harry Watson, of Groton, and Peter Balestracci, of Stonington, to each serve as Authority members, with both offices having the term of five-years.    

 

12.  Election of Representative Advisory Board Officers

On motion of Mr. Callahan, seconded by Ms. Smith, the RAB unanimously voted to elect Dennison Allen as RAB Chairman and Dean Antipas as RAB Vice-Chairman, with both offices having the term of one-year. 

 

Chairman Allen stated the RAB Finance Committee was short a member, and that Mr. Jack Malone was interested in filling the position.  Chairman Allen stated that, unless there were any objections, he was appointing Mr. Malone to the RAB Finance Committee, under his authority as RAB Chairman.  There were no objections.

 

13.  Representative Advisory Board Member Reports - None

 

14.  New Business   - none

 

Ms. Russell requested to add an item to the RAB Agenda so that she could express her concerns about fluoride in the water, especially in light of new information she had available.  Her request was followed by much discussion about the proper procedures to add an item to the agenda, and whether the RAB was the best forum for this issue.  Several members expressed concern that this issue was not an issue that needed to be discussed and/or continued since SCWA does not add fluoride to the drinking water.  On the motion of Ms. Russell, seconded by Mr. Bowie, the RAB voted to add the Fluoride discussion to the April RAB agenda. 

 

15.  Adjourn

On motion of Mr. Callahan, seconded by Mr. Weiner the meeting adjourned at approximately

8:20 p.m.

 

 

                                                                                                                Josh Cansler, Secretary

                                                                                                                Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority