Draft Minutes of the May 8, 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

 

Authority Guests from the Department of Health (DPH), Drinking Water Section:  Lori Mathieu (Chief, DPH Drinking Water Section), Cam Walden (DPH Drinking Water Section, Supervisory Engineer)

 

Authority Legal Counsel:  Nick Kepple (Avena and Kepple, LLC)

 

Call to Order: 

Chairman Monahan called the meeting to order at approximately 5:16 p.m. 

 

Public Comment on any Item on the Agenda – None

 

Discussion with DPH about Emergency Interconnections, and Pending Consent Agreement for Long-Term Regional Planning

Ms. Mathieu explained the background regarding a 2014 legislation that allocated $50 million to the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF), to subsidize water utility improvements throughout Connecticut.  The allocated amount was later reduced to $20 million as a result of later legislation.  Ms. Mathieu discussed how after Superstorm Sandy the DWSRF program was used to fund emergency generators at about 150 pump stations in Connecticut.  She stated that the current funding is intended to fund interconnections. 

 

Ms. Mathieu explained that DPH wants to provide $15 million to Groton Utilities to assist with their Water Treatment Plant Upgrade, currently estimated at $54 million.  As part of their utility upgrade grant package, Groton Utilities will install five emergency interconnections with the SCWA divisions in Ledyard, and one with Norwich Utilities.  She went on to explain that the cost of the Groton plant upgrade had almost doubled due to new treatment technology to be installed at the plant.  Ms. Mathieu mentioned that the grant-in-aid to Groton Utilities, to assist with the water treatment plant upgrades and regional interconnections/consolidations, was on the Office of Policy and Management (OPM) State Bond Commission Agenda, for the upcoming Friday (May 12, 2017).  

 

Attorney Kepple stated that the Authority was concerned that the emergency interconnections might lead to consolidation down the road.  Ms. Mathieu replied by asking where the Authority sees themselves in 20 years.  Chairman Monahan responded by saying he was more curious where she sees the Authority in 20 years.  Ms. Mathieu stated that ideally she would like to see one authority in Southeastern Connecticut that oversees all of the regional water utilities.  The big question, she asked, is how do we get there?  She mentioned that the South Central CT Regional Water Authority got there over time. 

Attorney Kepple stated that the Authority might be open to the idea of exploration of consolidation, as long as it was done through a thoughtful planning process.  Mr. O’Connor talked about the advantages of a regional water authority that could enhance operational efficiency and customer service.  Chairman Monahan spoke about the concerns of losing half the customer base, if for instance SCWA was stripped of the five Ledyard divisions at some point after the emergency interconnections were in place.  He stated that SCWA would be left financially untenable if that happened, and the remaining half of the SCWA customers would essentially be left high and dry; or least stuck with unreasonable rates.   Several other Authority members echoed his concerns. 

 

Ms. Mathieu said the first thing we need to do is get the initial phase; the emergency interconnections underway.  That would be followed by a long-range consolidation planning process.  Mr. O’Connor stated that one of the biggest obstacles he sees to a regional water utility in Southeast Connecticut is that Groton Utilities, and Norwich Utilities both use revenue from their water utilities to fund other budget requirements in their respective towns.  He asked what their incentive was to actively participate in this regional planning process.  Ms. Mathieu said DPH was drafting a Consent Agreement to get the planning process started, but she added, the language of the agreement was all negotiable.

 

Ms. Mathieu said that perhaps we could use the WUCC process to initiate the process, and maybe DPH could even amend the WUCC contract with Milone & MacBroom to do so.  After some more discussion regarding advantages of long-term consolidation planning, and how to get the process started, Ms. Mathieu asked if the Authority was willing to support the process.  Chairman Monahan said SCWA would be willing to take a leadership role in a working group.  He said that the Authority would also be willing to sign a letter agreeing to support a planning process, however he said that instead of the term “consolidation planning”, he preferred the term “intrinsic regionalization of water in Southeastern Connecticut”.  He said that SCWA could provide a letter prior to the Friday (May 12th) State Bond Commission Agenda. 

 

Mr. Watson made a motion to authorize the Chairman, and General Manager, to work with SCWA legal counsel to prepare and sign a letter on behalf of the Authority stating the members were comfortable with supporting regional water planning efforts.  His motion, seconded by Mr. Eccard, was unanimously approved by a vote of all members present.

 

At the conclusion of the discussion with DPH, Chairman Monahan announced there would be a five-minute break to say goodbye to our DPH visitors.

 

Approval of Prior Minutes

On a motion of Mr. Watson, seconded by Ms. Franciosi, the Authority approved the minutes of the April 10, 2017 Water Authority Meeting, and the April 20, 2017 Special Authority Meeting by a unanimous vote of all members present. 

 

Correspondence

1. Excerpt from Drinking Water State Revolving Fund’s Intended Use Plan (IUP) for State Fiscal Year 2017, pages 4-15 (in reference to State Subsidy Funds – Public Water System Improvement Program)

 

2.  Updated Exclusive Service area (ESA) Statements of Confirmation for SCWA ESAs.

 

3.  DPH Letter, dated April 17, 2017, to Thames Aquatic Club, LLC, RE: CPCN Phase 1-A Well Site Suitability Certification for Well 31 – Approved withdrawal rate of less than ten gallons per minute.

 General Manager’s Report

 

1.  Emergency Interconnections with Ledyard WPCA/Groton Utilities

As part of a DWSRF funding package Groton Utilities will install several emergency water main interconnections with other water utilities in the region, to include the five SCWA Ledyard divisions.  On April 18, 2017 Groton Utilities sent a Letter of Intent to DPH regarding their plan for emergency interconnections.  This letter also included discussion of possible regional consolidation planning, in conjunction with the emergency interconnections.  DPH has indicated that they are drafting a Consent Agreement which will establish milestones for a long-term regional consolidation plan.   

 

In an SCWA Special Meeting, held at the Groton Public Library, on April 20, 2017, the Authority discussed if SCWA should respond to the Letter of Intent, or wait until we see the draft Consent Agreement.  After some discussion the Authority decided to hold off on responding to the letter, but did approve a motion to authorize the Chairman and General Manager to take any emergency steps, and/or communications required, to protect the Authority and our customers, and to ensure that SCWA continues to meet our legislated responsibilities.   The Authority also agreed that SCWA needs to ensure that the Consent Agreement includes specific criteria that protects the Authority, and our customers.  Specifically, they agreed that SCWA has a responsibility to not only remain economically viable, but also to ensure our customers are not saddled with high fees, or poor service, as a result of potential consolidation.

 

Based on the previous discussion with DPH, General Manager Cansler stated he didn’t think there was anything further to discuss on this topic, at this time.   

 

2.  Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCC) and Exclusive Service Areas (ESA):

(Attachment #1: ESA Statements of Confirmation and ESA Maps for SCWA) 

The Eastern Connecticut Water Utility Coordinating Committee (WUCC) officially convened in June 2016.  Currently the Eastern WUCC is working to complete the Exclusive Service Area (ESA) process, and is planning to submit a finalized ESA document to the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH) in June.  All ESA holders are required to sign a Statement of Confirmation to accept the rights and responsibilities of their ESAs.  Although all of the SCWA ESA areas were previously approved during the 2000 Southeastern CT WUCC, all ESA holders must still submit an updated Statement of Confirmation, for each ESA.  Failure to submit a signed Statement of Confirmation may result in revocation of designated ESAs.  General Manager Cansler stated that he has compared the maps provided by the WUCC contractor, Milone & MacBroom and that they appear to be correct.  He recommended that the Authority approve the Statements of Confirmation.

 

Mr. Eccard made a motion that the Authority approve the Statement of Confirmation for the SCWA ESA’s in the Town of Ledyard, and authorize the General Manager to sign the Statement of Confirmation on behalf of the Authority.  His motion, seconded by Mr. Watson, was unanimously approved by a vote of all members present.

 

Mr. Eccard made a motion that the Authority approve the Statement of Confirmation for the SCWA ESA’s in the Town of Salem, and authorize the General Manager to sign the Statement of Confirmation on behalf of the Authority.  His motion, seconded by Mr. Watson, was unanimously approved by a vote of all members present.

 

Mr. Eccard made a motion that the Authority approve the Statement of Confirmation for the SCWA ESA’s in the Town of Franklin, and authorize the General Manager to sign the Statement of Confirmation on behalf of the Authority.  His motion, seconded by Mr. Watson, was unanimously approved by a vote of all members present.

 

Mr. Eccard made a motion that the Authority approve the Statement of Confirmation for the SCWA ESA’s in the Town of Montville, and authorize the General Manager to sign the Statement of Confirmation on behalf of the Authority.  His motion, seconded by Mr. Watson, was unanimously approved by a vote of all members present.

 

Chairman Monahan mentioned that the Ledyard WPCA had not approved the Statement of Confirmation for their Exclusive Service Areas in Ledyard at their last meeting.

 

3.  Extension of Services on Fairway Drive/Thames Aquatic Center –Ledyard

SCWA continues to work with the Town of Ledyard, and the Ledyard WPCA, regarding support of the proposed Thames Aquatic Center project, as well as the proposed extension of Fairway Drive in Ledyard Center; both of which are in the SCWA Exclusive Service Area.  Although SCWA has proposed several alternatives to provide water from our Ledyard Center system, the developer requested approval from DPH to install a well on the proposed site.  In early March, DPH disapproved the well application, based on the proximity of our water main to the proposed Aquatic Center site.  The developer, and the Town of Ledyard, responded back to DPH in late March asking for reconsideration of their well application.  

 

On April 4, 2017, Chairman Monahan and General Manager Cansler attended a meeting at the Town of Ledyard with Lori Mathieu (DPH), Mayor Finkelstein, Ledyard WPCA representatives, and the Aquatic Center developers.   After discussion regarding the various alternatives for water to the proposed Aquatic Center site, DPH decided to support the well, with the stipulation that the Aquatic Center connect to the water main on Fairway Drive extension, once it is installed, and that the Aquatic Center use SCWA for all required testing and monitoring of the well. 

 

General Manager Cansler mentioned that he had included a copy of a letter from DPH to the developers of the Thames Aquatic Club, dated April 17, 2017.  The letter approved the request for a well, at a withdrawal rate of less than ten gallons per minute, and that SCWA will operate their well system, upon completion.  The letter also stated that once the main extension is completed, Thames Aquatic Club has 90 days to connect to the main.

 

4.  Expansion of Jensen Communities near Hillcrest Division, Montville

(Attachment #2: 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 SCWA received a draft Main Extension Agreement between SCWA and Jensen’s.   General Manager Cansler pointed out at the April Authority meeting 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.  After subsequent negotiations, Jensen Communities reduced the fee to $425 for each new unit connection. 

 

 

 

At the April meeting, the Authority also questioned the paragraph referring to an increase in $500 fee, to $800, 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”.  Several members questioned whether this included the homes in Hillcrest.  There were concerns that Hillcrest’s water usage, which tends to be lower, might alter the average usage analysis.  Subsequent negotiations between Mr. Cansler and Jensen Communities led to the removal of this clause entirely from the Main Extension Agreement.  

 

Based on the fact that Jensen’s had addressed all of the Authority’s concerns, General Manager Cansler recommended that the Authority approve the Main Extension Agreement.  Chairman Monahan mentioned that at the Representative Advisory Board (RAB) meeting in April, one of the representatives from Montville, Mr. Anthony Siragusa, had asked whether the new development was within SCWA’s current ESA boundaries.  General Manager Cansler stated that the ESA maps he had were too vague to tell, and that he had called the Montville WPCA to discuss.  He said the Montville WPCA was not sure either, and that were trying to find a better map.  The Authority decided that the Main Extension Agreement could still be approved since it was an agreement regarding fees and SCWA’s capacity to provide water, and did not include modifications to ESA’s.

 

Mr. Eccard made a motion that the Authority approve the updated Main Extension Agreement for Jensen Communities Millwood at Old Colchester Road sub-division, and authorize the General Manager to sign the agreement on behalf of the Authority.  His motion, seconded by Mr. Watson, was unanimously approved by a vote of all members present.

  

5.  DWSRF Call for Projects

The State DPH Drinking Water Section issued a call for future DWSRF 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.  Mr. Cansler stated that on April 25th SCWA submitted application packages and concept designs for three projects, and that DPH had acknowledged receipt of the applications.

 

6.  DWSRF Emergency Generator Program

Through the DPH Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program, SCWA received approval for three emergency generator projects.  This program provides a 45% grant for new generators, a 25% grant for replacement of old generators, and no interest loans for the remaining costs.  After going through a public bidding process, the Authority approved acceptance of the following low bids, from qualified contractors, at their regular meeting in February:

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. 

On April 17, 2017, SCWA received Authorization to Commence Work for all three projects, pending environmental approval from DEEP.  

 

 

7.  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.

 

8.  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.   It was noted that dust, debris, and possibly small animals or insects could get into the tank.  Repairs are planned for the May timeframe, using mostly SCWA staff.

 

9.  Trailer-mounted Mobile Pump Station Project

This past fall SCWA has 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 has allowed, between routine checks/maintenance and emergency repairs of mains, wells, and pump stations.  We were held up for several weeks due to a warranty issue with the skid pump package, which the manufacturer has repaired.  All of the plumbing is now installed, and the electrical panels and wiring are being assembled and installed. 

 

10.  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.

 

11.  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 the North Stonington water distribution system 1500 feet.  SCWA continues to work with the Town and Engineer Firms, as needed, to assist with planning the main extension and emergency center water system.  On May 1, 2017, Mr. Mullane, on behalf of the Town of North Stonington, told Mr. Cansler that they wanted to switch from ductile iron pipe for the water main, to plastic water main, in an effort to reduce costs.  Mr. Mullane asked if SCWA could provide specifications for an acceptable grade of 8” pipe.  After consulting Jim Ericson, of Lenard Engineering, the specifications were provided the same day. 

 

At the meeting, Mr. Mullane stated that an addendum to the Request for Proposal had gone out regarding the additional water main required to cross Route 2 avoiding the intersection.  He said that the additional pipe required was less than they had expected, and that they had decided to stick with ductile iron.

 

 

12.  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.   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 this project.  Mr. Mullane said that the project was in jeopardy as a result of the pending State Budget which called for significant cuts to state allocations for schools statewide.

 

13.  SCWA Financial Statements – Third Quarter FY 2017

Attachment 3:   FY 2017 Third Quarter Financial Statements

                                Cash Position Report 05/02/17

General Manager Cansler discussed the FY 2017 third quarter financial statements, and the May 2, 2017 Cash Position Report with the Authority.  There was not any significant concerns or issues with the third quarter statements.

 

14.  FY 2018 SCWA Draft Budget

The Authority Finance Committee, along with General Manager Josh Cansler, and SCWA Financial Consultant Andrew Potochney, met on May 8, 2017 to discuss the FY 2018 SCWA draft budget.     The Finance Committee will present the draft budget to the full Authority at the June Authority meeting for approval.

 

15.  Truck Purchase

The SCWA Fiscal Year 2017 Capital Program included the acquisition of a service pickup truck with plow.  The truck that is being replaced has over 148,000 miles.  General Manager Cansler requested quotes from all four vendors on the Connecticut State Contract that sell 3/4-ton trucks.  Quotes were requested from two Ford dealers, one GMC dealer, and one Chevrolet dealer, currently under the Connecticut State Contract for purchase of Trucks and Vehicles.  The quotes requested separate add/alternate bids for the amber responder light, and the truck cap.   We received quotes from the two Ford dealers.  The GMC and Chevrolet dealers said it was too late to order a 2017 truck, and too early for the 2018 models. 

        Dealer                                                   Vehicle                                                                 Bid

                Tasca Ford                                           2017 Ford F250  w/ plow                               $29,096

                Berlin, CT                                             Regular Cab 4x4

 

                Tasca Ford                                           2017 Ford F250  w/ plow                               $31,538

                Berlin, CT                                             Super/Extended Cab 4x4

 

                Crowley Ford                                     2017 Ford F250  w/ plow                               $29,405

                Plainville, CT                                       Regular Cab 4x4

 

                Crowley Ford                                     2017 Ford F250  w/ plow                               $31,828

                Plainville, CT                                       Super/Extended Cab 4x4

 

 

General Manager Cansler explained that he had requested quotes for both regular cab and extended cab pickups because this was going to be the Foreman’s new truck, and the foreman carried all of the leak detection listening equipment in his truck, along with maps and drawing of each system.  He said that the leak detection equipment was too expensive to be left in the back of the truck, and there really wasn’t space for it in a regular cab pickup.  Mr. Cansler recommended purchase of the extended cab pickup, from the vendor with the lowest quote off of the State contract, Tasca Ford.

 

Mr. Eccard made a motion that the Authority approve the purchase of the 2017 Ford F250 extended cab pickup w/ plow                from Tasca Ford for $31,538.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, was unanimously approved by a vote of all members present.

 

16.  Annual Audit

In mid-February SCWA was informed that the audit firm we are currently using, CohnReznick, will no longer be providing governmental/municipal auditing services.  Our former CohnReznick point of contact, Joe Centofanti, offered to provide the same professional auditing services, at the same prices as CohnReznick, through his new firm, PKF O’Conner-Davies. 

 

Based on advice from Authority member Mr. Mullane, the General Manager also reached out to the auditor used by the Town of North Stonington, and several other municipalities in Connecticut, Sandra Welwood, LLC.  These two proposals were presented to the SCWA Representative Advisory Board (RAB) at their quarterly meeting on April 20, 2017.   The RAB is responsible for selecting the annual auditor.  

 

After discussion, the RAB approved a motion authorizing the General Manager to negotiate the terms of the contract with Sandra Welwood, LLC, based on the desire of the RAB to appoint the auditor for only one year, with either a termination clause, or two option years at the same price as the first year.  Since the RAB meeting, Mr. Cansler has negotiated with Sandra Welwood for a one-year commitment, with two option years at the same fee. 

 

Other Business  -  None

 

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 7:30 p.m. 

 

It was noted the next Authority meeting is scheduled to occur on June 12, 2017, 5:15 p.m. at

1649 Rt. 12, Gales Ferry, CT. 

 

                                                                                                               

 

                                                                                                                Joseph C. Cansler                                                                                                                 Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© 2014 SCWA

FOLLOW US:

  • w-facebook