Draft Minutes of the April 10, 2017 Water Authority Meeting

Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority

1649 Route 12, Gales Ferry, CT

 

 

 

Present

Authority:  Chairman Edward Monahan, Vice-Chair Harry Watson, Treasurer Paul Eccard, Barbara Lee Franciosi, Peter Balestracci, Nicholas Mullane, and Michael O’Connor. 

Authority Staff:  General Manager Josh Cansler

 

Chairman Monahan called the meeting to order at approximately 5:15 p.m. 

 

Approval of Prior Minutes

On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Mullane, the Authority approved the minutes of the March 20, 2017 Water Authority Meeting, by a unanimous vote of all members present. 

 

Public Comment on any Item on the Agenda – None

 

Correspondence – None

 

General Manager’s Report

1.  Extension of Services on Fairway Drive/Thames Aquatic Center -Ledyard

SCWA continues to work with the Town of Ledyard and Ledyard WPCA regarding support of the proposed Thames Aquatic Center project, as well as the proposed extension of Fairway Drive in Ledyard Center.   Over the past year SCWA has proposed two solutions to provide water from our closest main, which ends at the three apartment buildings on Iron Street (Route 214). 

 

Our first proposal was to extend the main approximately 300’ straight line distance to the Aquatic Center.  This alternative would require an easement through the adjoining property.  Both the proposed site of the Aquatic Center, and the adjoining property, are owned by the Holdridge family.   To avoid splitting the adjoining property in half with an easement, SCWA offered to extend the main from behind the apartment buildings to Iron Street, and then along the street right-of-way, to the corner of the proposed Aquatic Center property.  This proposal would require an additional 150 feet of main (450’ total).   As a measure of our support for this project, SCWA has offered to absorb the cost of the additional 150 feet.

 

This past fall the landowner and developer submitted a request to the State DPH and DEEP requesting permission for a new well, which was disapproved in March 2017, based on the proximity of a water main to the proposed Aquatic Center site.  The developer, and the Town of Ledyard responded back to DPH in late March asking them to reconsider the well application. 

 

At a meeting with the Town and Ledyard WPCA on March 21, 2017, attended by Chairman Monahan and General Manager Cansler, a third alternative was presented by Mr. Cansler.  He proposed installation of a main from the cul-de-sac at the end of the existing Fairway Drive along the proposed extension route.  Mr. Cansler said that although this option is about 400 feet longer, the main would

 

already be in place when Fairway Drive is extended.  This would enable SCWA to recover the additional required funding for the Fairway Drive main extension as new customers build along the Fairway Drive extension.  Mr. Cansler stated this idea was rejected by the Town because they wanted to be able to offer fire protection to potential developers along Fairway Drive.  The SCWA Ledyard system does not have enough storage capacity to provide fire protection. 

 

After much deliberation back and forth, another alternative was presented; construct an 8 inch line from Ledyard WPCA main along Route 117 to the Thames Aquatic property line, following the proposed Fairway Drive extension.  SCWA would purchase the water from WPCA at a wholesale rate, and bill Thames Aquatic.  Mr. Cansler stated that if the Town of Ledyard will contribute the $20,000 they already have set aside for this project, and the property owner will contribute $10,000, SCWA would install the line and absorb any additional costs.  Since the Town’s estimate is $50-60,000, they felt this was fair. 

 

Mr. Cansler said that a few days later Chairman Monahan, General Manager Cansler were invited to attend another meeting, on April 4th, to discuss the well issue with DPH.  In response to the Town’s request for reconsideration of the well application, Lori Mathieu, Chief of the DPH Drinking Water Section agreed to meet with the Aquatic Center development team, and Mr. Holdridge, to discuss the well issue.  The meeting was attended by, Mayor Finkelstein, and the Ledyard WPCA.  After much discussion DPH agreed to support the well, with the stipulation that the Aquatic Center hook into the water main on Fairway Drive once it is installed, and that the Aquatic Center use SCWA for all required testing and monitoring of the well.

 

Several Authority members pointed out that drilling a well involves risks.  The well might not produce the quantity or quality desired.  Chairman Monahan said that Ms. Mathieu had pointed this out at the meeting in Ledyard.  Mr. Eccard asked if fire protection was going to continue being an issue with future projects in Ledyard Center.  Mr. Cansler had the same concerns, and mentioned that SCWA had hired Lenard Engineering last year to prepare a concept plan for an emergency interconnection with the Ledyard WPCA system for fire protection purposes only.

 

2.  Emergency Interconnections with Ledyard WPCA/Groton Utilities

At the same meeting in Ledyard on April 4th, Lori Mathieu announced that DPH was working on a Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) funding package with Groton Utilities to support replacement of their water treatment plant.  As part of the funding package Groton Utilities will install several emergency water main interconnections with other water utilities in the region, to include SCWA.  These would include interconnections between the five SCWA divisions in Ledyard, and the Ledyard WPCA system, which is currently operated by Groton Utilities. 

 

After discussion about the positives of having emergency interconnections available, several members expressed concern about the interconnections eventually leading to consolidation of systems.  Mr. Eccard pointed out that DPH often does not recognize SCWA’s responsibility, and proficiency, to take over systems that have failed and/or systems that municipalities could not run.  Mr. Mullane stated that SCWA has served the Town of North Stonington very well over the years. 

 

Mr. Eccard made a motion that the Authority agrees in principal to the benefits of emergency interconnections, but is concerned about other long-term ramifications to SCWA customers.  His motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, was approved by a vote of 7-0.

 

3.  DWSRF Emergency Generator Program

(Attachment #1:  Resolution 2017-1, for Tower Small Generator Project)

(Attachment #2:  Resolution 2017-2, for Montville Generator Project)

(Attachment #3:  Resolution 2017-3, for Chesterfield Generator Project)

At the February meeting the Authority approved three motions accepting the lowest bids for the three generator projects, which are eligible for partial DWSRF funding.   These three bids were: 

a)  Tower Generator Systems, for a lump sum of $94,107, to complete the new generator project for the Tower Division.

b)  Tower Generator Systems, for a lump sum of $74,627, to complete the replacement generator project for the Montville Division.    

c)  Custom Electric, for a lump sum of $66,000, to complete the replacement generator project for the Chesterfield Division. 

The RFP, bids, and other required paperwork were sent to DPH on February 15, 2017 requesting approval of our Request to Commence Work, along with the applicable DWSRF funding.  DPH responded with a request for more information regarding the bids, and a request for a resolution adopted by the Authority to file the application and execute the loan agreement.  General Manager Cansler stated that a separate resolution was required for each generator project, and that each resolution needed to be approved by the Authority.

 

Mr. Eccard made a motion to approve Resolution 2017-1, for the Tower Small Generator Project.  This motion, which was seconded by Mr. Mullane, passed by a vote of 7-0.  

Mr. Balestracci made a motion to approve Resolution 2017-2, for the Montville Generator Project.  This motion, which was seconded by Mr. Eccard, passed by a vote of 7-0.  

Mr. Eccard made a motion to approve Resolution 2017-3, for the Chesterfield Generator Project.  This motion, which was seconded by Mr. Balestracci, passed by a vote of 7-0.  

 

4.  DWSRF Call for Projects

The State DPH Drinking Water Section issued a call for future projects in Mid-February, with a submittal date of April 28, 2017.  Financing through the DWSRF includes a low-interest loan with the potential for subsidization for eligible projects in the form of principal forgiveness to the extent allowed by Federal and/or State law.  At the September 2016 meeting, the Authority approved a motion to have Lenard Engineering prepare the DWSRF Call for Project applications for three proposed projects, for a lump sum of $4,500 ($1,500 per project).   The three projects are:  Renovation of Tower/Ferry View Pump Station, Interconnection between Montville and Seven Oaks systems, and Expansion of the Ledyard system. 

Mr. Cansler reviewed the draft application packages with Lenard Engineering on April 3, 2017.  The final packages will be ready for submittal well before the April 28th deadline.  

 

5.  Water Supply Plan

Per the terms of the September 2015 Consent Agreement with DPH, SCWA is required to submit an updated Water Supply Plan to DPH no later than January 1, 2018.   After soliciting bids from several engineering firms that are experienced with the development of Water Supply Plans in the State of Connecticut, the Authority authorized the General Manager to award the development of the updated SCWA Water Supply Plan to Lenard Engineering, based on price and experience with SCWA systems.   The General Manager and Lenard Engineering are meeting monthly to consolidate and review data required in the updated Water Supply Plan.

6.  Expansion of Jensen Communities near Hillcrest Division, Montville

(Attachment #4: Draft Main Extension Agreement) 

Jensen Communities, which developed the Hillcrest subdivision of Montville, is in the approval process for an adjoining development called “Millwood at Old Colchester Road”.  The proposed development will have 46 homes for people age 55+, and will tie into the existing Hillcrest water distribution system.  As part of the approval process we received a draft Main Extension Agreement between SCWA and Jensen’s.  General Manger Cansler sent a copy of the draft agreement to the SCWA legal counsel for review.  General Manager Cansler pointed out that the sum the Authority is expected to pay the developer for each dwelling unit connection had gone up from $250 for Hillcrest, almost 20 years ago, to $500 for the new unit connections.  The Board thought this was significant too, but agreed that over 20 years an increase was to be expected.  Mr. Eccard asked, in the paragraph referring to an increase in $500 fee, if “the average water usage for all dwelling houses in Millwood exceeds 70% of the average daily usage of water by all other single-family dwelling houses in other systems owned and operated by the Authority in the Town of Montville” included the houses in Hillcrest.  He pointed out that Hillcrest’s water usage, which tended be lower, might alter the average usage analysis.  General Manager Cansler agreed to reach out to Jensen Communities about this question, and some of the fees.  The Authority deferred a vote on the Main Extension Agreement until these questions were answered.

 

7.  Montville Storage Tank

At the February 13, 2017 meeting the Authority approved the General Manager’s recommendation to repair the roof of the Montville 50,000 gallon atmospheric storage tank immediately.  This particular tank is an open top rectangular concrete tank that is fitted with a wood-framed asphalt shingled roof.  During an inspection of the tank last fall, which is required every 10 years, the inspector recommended immediate repairs to the roof of the tank.   He noted that dust, debris, and possibly small animals or insects could get into the tank.  Repairs are planned for the April/May timeframe, using mostly SCWA field crew.

 

8. Tower Distribution System Water Loss

During the process of gathering and preparing information for the Water Supply Plan, General Manager Cansler discovered a significant discrepancy between water produced at the Tower Division, and water sold (metered).  After evaluating the meters and the pump station equipment, we have concluded that the Tower distribution system has a significant leak, or possibly leaks, that have not surfaced.  Because the volume of water leaking was increasing at a steady rate, General Manager Cansler hired a firm called Upstate Leak Detection, to evaluate the entire Tower Division distribution system (16 miles total), for a lump sum of $3,000.  Mr. Cansler stated that Upstate Leak Detection started on April 6th, but that finding shut-off valves was impeding an accurate leak detection survey.  They did find a few spots with potential leaks though.

 

9.  Town of North Stonington School Upgrade Project

The Town of North Stonington is in the engineering and design stage of a project to renovate existing facilities, and construct some additions, to the Town of North Stonington Elementary School and Middle/High School, located on Norwich-Westerly Road.   The proposed work includes an addition to the west side of the existing Gymnatorium, and an addition to the south side of the existing Elementary School. The parking areas around the Gymnatorium, Elementary School, and the proposed additions will also be reconstructed and reconfigured.  These modifications are not expected to affect student population and associated water consumption, since it is intended that the middle/high school building on the opposite side of Route 2 will be demolished as part of this project.   SCWA has been working with the Design/Engineer Firm, as needed, to assist with extension and modification of water utilities.    

10.  Town of North Stonington - New Center for Emergency Services/Water Main Extension

The Town of North Stonington is constructing a new Center for Emergency Services, which also involves extending SCWA’s water distribution system 1500 feet.  SCWA continues to work with the Design/Engineer Firm, as needed, to assist with planning the main extension and emergency center water system, and will continue to support the project after it has been awarded.  General Manager Cansler met with Mr. Mullane, and Jim Ericson, from Lenard Engineering on March 21, 2017 to discuss where and how the new water main should cross Route 2 and connect to the new Center for Emergency Services.  This meeting was prompted by a prior meeting with the State Department of Transportation (DOT), which resulted in a change of plans because of the numerous electrical lines under the road, associated with the stoplights.  Lenard Engineering is preparing a new plan to cross Route 2.  SCWA is assisting the town, and Lenard Engineering, as needed.

 

11.  Trailer-mounted Mobile Pump Station Project

This past fall SCWA started construction of a trailer-mounted pump station that can be used to operate our regular pump stations during renovation projects, and/or emergency repairs.  Purchase of the equipment for this mobile pump station was approved at the June 2016 Authority meeting.   Work has progressed on the mobile pump station as time allows, between routine checks/maintenance and emergency repairs of mains, wells, and pump stations.  During installation of the skid pump package it was discovered that the manufacturer did not assembled the pumps correctly.  Currently we are awaiting new parts and on-site re-assembly by the manufacturer, which falls under the warranty.

 

12.  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 operates off of an on-site well system.  A cost agreement that was satisfactory for both parties was agreed upon in December 2016.  SCWA has not heard back from Montville schools regarding approval of funding by their Finance Committee.

 

13.  Drought Update

Despite the recent heavy rains New London and Windham counties are still under a Drought Advisory.  The rest of Connecticut is under a Drought Watch, which is the second stage in the State’s Drought Plan.  None of the SCWA divisions have experienced any drought related problems since last August (Montville Manor Subdivision).

 

14.  Regional Considerations

The Authority has been involved with, or is monitoring, various regional items, including:

a)  Update on Miller’s Pond, Waterford

(Attachment #5: Section 13 of ACT 381 (1967), the act establishing a Southeastern CT Water Authority) 

On March 31st, the SCWA Miller’s Pond sub-committee (Dr. Monahan, Mr. Eccard, and Ms. Franciosi) met with Mr. Rob Schacht, who is representing the family that owns Miller’s Pond, in Waterford.  The Schacht family had offered SCWA the opportunity to purchase Miller’s Pond several years ago.  Mr. Schacht gave a background on the history of the pond, and stated that their preference was still to sell the pond to an entity which would use the pond as a water resource.  Unfortunately, since they have not been able to find a buyer interested in developing the pond as a water resource, the Schacht family intended to advertise sale of the pond worldwide, for an asking price of $11.5 million.  Mr. Schacht mentioned that sale, and possible subsequent development of the pond, would most likely require involvement by SCWA based on Section 13 of Act 381 (our enabling legislation).  

 

b)  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 has coordinated the activities of the three Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs).   The Eastern Connecticut WUCC officially convened in June 2016.  WUCC member meetings are held at 1 p.m. every second Wednesday of the month, at either the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) offices in Norwich, or the Northeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (NECCOG) offices in Killingly.  These meetings are open to the public.   Mr. Cansler also serves on the WUCC ESA (Exclusive Service Area) sub-committee.

 

c)  SCWA Interaction with the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG).  Chairman Monahan periodically attends the regular monthly SCCOG meetings. 

 

d)  SCCOG Regional Water Committee’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee (TAS).  SCWA staff participate on the SCCOG Regional Water Committee’s Technical Advisory Subcommittee.

 

15.  Annual Audit

In mid-February Mr. Cansler was informed that the audit firm we are currently using, CohnReznick, will no longer be providing governmental/municipal auditing services.  As a result, our point of contact with CohnReznick, Mr. Joe Centofanti, has moved to the Auditing Agency PKF O’Conner-Davies.  Mr. Centofanti sent a Letter of Engagement/proposal to SCWA in March stating that PKF O’Conner-Davies would like to provide the same professional auditing services, at the same prices, that were quoted by CohnReznick, for the SCWA 2017 and 2018 Annual Audits.  Mr. Cansler explained that any change to the audit firm would have to be approved by the SCWA Representative Advisory Board (RAB). 

 

At the March Authority meeting, Mr. Mullane mentioned that the Town of North Stonington has been using Sandra Welwood, LLC as their auditor, and that the Town was very happy with her work and her fees.  He recommended that SCWA reach out to her for a proposal, which General Manager Cansler did.  SCWA received a proposal for her services on March 31, 2017.  Mr. Cansler also reached out for another proposal from former CohnReznick employees that SCWA has worked with in the past.  Unfortunately they were not able to submit a proposal because of agreements made with CohnReznick upon departure. 

 

Mr. Cansler stated that as result we had the following annual audit proposals to present to the RAB:

 

a).  PKF O’Connor-Davies                                             Proposed Fee                                                                   

                FY 2017 Audit                                                     $16,225

                FY 2018 Audit                                                     $16,700

                           

b).  Sandra Welwood, LLC                                             Proposed Fee                                                                   

                FY 2017 Audit                                                     $11,500

                FY 2018 Audit                                                     $11,500

                FY 2019 Audit                                                     $11,500

 

After the Authority members discussed the two proposals, Mr. Watson made a motion for the Authority to endorse the proposal from Sandra Welwood, if the RAB requests a recommendation from the Authority. 

 

Other Business  -  General Manager Cansler stated that he had discussed preparation of the FY2018 Budget with Andy Potochney, who has helped prepare the SCWA budget for several years.  Mr. Cansler   stated that Mr. Potochney was interested in assisting SCWA with the budget again this year.  Mr. Eccard made a motion to have the General Manager retain Mr. Potochney’ services to assist with the preparation of next year’s budget.  His motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, was approved by a unanimous vote of all members present.  SCWA will send the 3rd quarter Financials to Mr. Potochney by mid-April, and he will meet with Mr. Cansler again on May 2nd, to go over the first draft of the budget.  The Authority Finance Committee will meet at 4 pm on May 8, 2017, at the SCWA offices, to discuss the FY18 budget.  The Authority will vote on the FY18 Budget at the May, or June, Authority meeting.

 

Report from Chairman  - None 

 

Public Comment – None

 

On motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Ms. Franciosi, the Authority voted to adjourn the meeting at approximately 6:40 p.m. 

 

It was noted the next Authority meeting is scheduled to occur on May 8, 2017, 5:15 p.m. at

1649 Rt. 12, Gales Ferry, CT. 

 

                                                                                Joseph C. Cansler                                                                                 Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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