Draft Minutes of the June 13, 2016 Water Authority Meeting

Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority

1649 Route 12, Gales Ferry, CT

 

 

 

Present

Authority:  Chairman Monahan, Vice-Chair Watson, Treasurer Eccard, Member Balestracci,

Member O’Connor, Member Franciosi, and Member Mullane

 

Authority Staff:  General Manager 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. Watson, the Authority approved the minutes of the May 9, 2016 Water Authority Meeting, by a unanimous vote of all members present. 

 

Public Comment on any Item on the Agenda – None

 

Correspondence

Mr. Cansler stated that there were several items of correspondence for this meeting: 

 

  • The first item was a copy of a letter from the State of Ct Department of Health announcing the official convening of the three state Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs). 

Mr. Cansler said he would discuss this item later in the General Manager’s Report.

 

  • The second item of correspondence was a Letter of Engagement from Auditing Firm CohnReznick.  CohnReznick was approved at the January Representative Advisory Board (RAB) meeting as the Auditing Firm to conduct the required annual audits for FYs 15, 16, and 17.  The purpose of this letter was to confirm the services expected of CohnReznick by SCWA during the audit process.  On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, the Authority approved, by a vote of 7-0, the conditions set forth in the Letter of Engagement, and authorized the Chairman to sign the letter on behalf of the Authority. 

 

  • The third item of correspondence was a Letter of Inquiry/Questionnaire from CohnReznick.  Purpose of this letter was to inquire if the authority had knowledge of any fraud, or suspected fraud, affecting SCWA, prior to the audit.   Chairman Monahan read the questions contained in the Letter of Inquiry and recorded the responses of the Authority members in the letter.  Once all the questions were answered, the Chairman signed the Letter of Inquiry, on behalf of the Authority.

 

  • The last item of correspondence was a copy of the time schedule for State Docket 16-04-22, which pertains to the transfer of the Lantern Hill Division to Aquarion.  Mr. Cansler stated that he included copies of each Notice of Public Hearing regarding the Lantern Hill Transfer.  He said he would discuss this item later in the General Manager’s Report.

 

 

General Manager’s Report

 

1.  Draft FY 2017 SCWA Budget

Mr. Eccard (Chairman of the SCWA Water Authority Finance Committee) and Mr. Cansler (SCWA General Manager), presented the draft FY 2017 SCWA Budget to the Water Authority.  Mr. Eccard stated that the budget was well done, and that no rate increase would be required for FY17.  Mr. Cansler stated that most of the FY17 budget line items stayed the same, or increased only slightly.  He stated his biggest concern was that the new insurance policy, which is up for renewal and could be exceptionally high based on the events at North Stonington last year.  This was also the biggest concern for most Authority members.  After some discussion Mr. Eccard made a motion to authorize the General Manager to enter into a new insurance policy agreement as long as the increase was not unreasonable based on the circumstances.  This motion, which was seconded by Ms. Franciosi, passed by a vote of 7-0.

 

After Mr. Cansler presented some more highlights of the draft budget Mr. Eccard made a motion to adopt the draft Fiscal Year 2017 budget, as presented, for a total of $1,515,100.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, passed by a vote of 7-0. 

 

General Manager Cansler also presented the draft FY 2017 SCWA Capital Program to the Water Authority.  He stated that one change he made this year was to prioritize the capital projects with a running cumulative total, based on estimated costs.  This would allow the authority to see approximately where the cut-line is, based on the allocated funds available for capital improvements.  Mr. Cansler stated that the planned capital expenditures at the top of the list included “must fund” requirements, such as debt repayments on outstanding bonds, and connection fees.  One of the capital projects that Mr. Cansler presented was the purchase of a new truck for the foreman.  He stated that they were considering a ½ ton (F-150/1500 equivalent) which would include a plow, since the truck they were replacing has a plow.  Mr. Balestracci, based on his years running a Public Works Department, said he was concerned that the ½ ton truck might not hold up as well a ¾ ton (F-250/2500 equivalent) for plowing.  Mr. Cansler said he would do some research before making a final decision.  After more discussion on upcoming future capital improvements, Mr. Eccard made a motion to approve the Capital Program, as prioritized, by the General Manager.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, passed by a vote of 7-0.

 

2.  Board Member Appointments and Positions

Mr. Cansler stated that over the next few weeks and months the terms for several Authority Offices and Board positions will expire.   

  • The office of Authority Chairman is a three-year term, which expires on June 30, 2016.  Ms. Franciosi made a motion that if Dr. Monahan was willing to serve another three years, she would like to nominate him for reappointment as Chairman for another term.  Dr. Monahan said he was willing to serve, and Mr. Watson seconded the nomination.  As there were no other nominations, the Authority voted 6-0, with one abstention (Dr. Monahan), to re-appoint Dr. Monahan to the position of Chairman of the Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority for another three-year term.    

  • The terms for the Authority offices of Vice-Chairman, Treasurer, and Secretary are one-year, and will expire on June 30, 2016.  Mr. Balestracci made a motion to keep the same people in the same positions for another year.  This motion, which was seconded by Mr. Mullane, passed by a vote of 7-0.   As a result of this vote Mr. Watson (Vice-Chairman), Mr. Eccard (Treasurer), and Mr. Cansler (Secretary) will each serve another year in their current Authority offices. 

  • Authority Members are appointed for five year terms.  The Authority member term for Mr. Nick Mullane will expire on September 18, 2016.  His appointment was for one of the two SCCOG positions on the Water Authority.  A letter, signed by Chairman Allen of the Representative Advisory Board (RAB), was sent on May 19, 2016 to the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) Chairman, requesting nominations for this seat.  The Representative Advisory Board shall make an appointment from the nominations provided.  

  • As a point of reference; the terms for the rest of the Authority members are as follows.  No more than four members of the Authority can be from the same party.

 

       Member                                           Party                              Current Appointment Expiration

Barbara Franciosi                                         D                                          12 / 31 / 2016

Michael O’Conner                                         R                                          12 / 31 / 2017

Paul Eccard   (Treasurer)                               U                                          12 / 31 / 2018                    

Edward Monahan (Chairman)                         D                                          12 / 31 / 2019

Peter Balestracci                                          D                                          12 / 31 / 2020

Nicholas Mullane                                          R                                          09 / 18 / 2016    (SCCOG)

Harry Watson (Vice-Chair)                             R                                          09 / 18 / 2020     (SCCOG)

 

3.  Chesterfield Water

Last fall, SCWA began a series of projects to address occasional discoloration of the water at the Chesterfield Division.  Water samples indicated that there were higher than normal levels of manganese in the water, although still well below allowable limits established by the EPA.  After cleaning the storage tank, and adding more flushing hydrants produced positive results, we decided that additional changes were needed to reduce manganese levels before the water goes into the distribution system. 

 

After gaining approval from the DPH in March 2016, SCWA began adding phosphate to the treatment process, to isolate manganese in the water.  Since we started adding phosphate, the levels of manganese have dropped slightly each week since.   SCWA also intends to upgrade the Chesterfield Pump Station by replacing the pressure tank with a new booster pump skid package, and replacing most of the piping in the pump station. 

 

In preparation for this 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.  We received an estimate back from for the complete assembly of the trailer-mounted pump station, but the proposal was much more than anticipated.  In an effort to save costs SCWA will purchase the trailer and equipment and do most of the construction ourselves.  We will have to subcontract the installation of the electrical panel.  General Manager Cansler said that he thought the total cost would be around $45-50K, if we do the work ourselves.  After some discussion, Mr. Watson made a motion for the Authority to authorize the General Manager to spend up to $50,000 to construct the trailer-mounted pump station.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, passed by a vote of 7-0. 

 

 

 

4. Lantern Hill Division

In 2015, the Authority voted to pursue transfer of the Lantern Hill Division to Aquarion Water.  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.  SCWA currently provides water to only 23 residential customers in the Lantern Hill Division.  In February of this year, SCWA sent a letter to the State DPH Commissioner stating our intent to transfer all of the assets of the Lantern Hill Division water system to Aquarion Water.  In March both parties signed an Asset Transfer Agreement, and last week SCWA and Aquarion submitted a formal application to PURA requesting a hearing regarding the Asset Transfer.  PURA has prepared a schedule for review of the transfer application, which is attached.   The Public Comment Hearing is scheduled for 6 pm on Thursday, June 23, 2016 at the Stonington Police Community Room, in Pawcatuck. 

 

General Manager Cansler stated that he had met with Attorney Kepple the week before to discuss the PURA docket schedule, public hearings, and interrogatories regarding the transfer.  Mr. Cansler and Attorney Kepple went over the interrogatory responses, which Attorney Kepple is filing on behalf of SCWA.  Attorney Kepple said he thought a retainer of around $3500 would be the best way to pay for his legal consultation throughout the entire process.  Mr. Eccard made a motion to approve a retainer, not to exceed $4000, to cover legal fees from Avena and Kepple LLC, for costs associated with the Lantern Hill transfer to Aquarion.  This motion, which was seconded by Ms. Franciosi, passed by a vote of 7-0.  

 

5.  Hillcrest - Radon in Water Letter

Jensen Communities, which developed, and sells homes in the Hillcrest Division of Montville, sent a letter to SCWA in April 2016 expressing concern about radon in the drinking water of a home that was recently sold.  The primary cause for concern from radon in the water is that it may get into the air.  Currently, the EPA and State of Connecticut do not regulate radon in water, however they do provide guidelines.   The CT DPH has established a guidance level of 5,000 pCi/L for radon in water, based on an average of two tests, over different seasons.  Although not obligated to address this issue, since radon in water is not regulated, the Authority approved a motion at the May 9, 2016 Authority meeting to conduct an engineering feasibility study to analyze possible methods of reducing radon in the water, before water goes into distribution.  Lenard Engineering submitted a proposal for $2,800 to conduct the engineering feasibility study.  Mr. Eccard made a motion to accept Lenard’s proposal of $2,800 to analyze possible methods of reducing radon in the water at Hillcrest.  This motion, which was seconded by Mr. Watson, passed by a vote of 7-0.  

 

6.  Extension of Services on Fairway Drive -Ledyard

In March 2016, Chairman Monahan and General Manager Cansler attended a meeting with Mayor Finkelstein of Ledyard, and members of the Ledyard Town Staff and WPCA, regarding the proposed extension of Fairway Drive, which is in the SCWA Exclusive Service Area (ESA).   During this meeting it was revealed that a new daycare facility is within the SCWA ESA buffer zone, and is currently being provided water from an apparently undocumented line from the Ledyard WPCA mains on Route 117.  There is also a developer interested in constructing an Aquatic facility within the SCWA ESA.   The Ledyard Mayor and WPCA indicated they would like to offer fire protection to potential future commercial developers along Fairway Drive.  SCWA agreed to have an engineering feasibility study on expanding our operation in Ledyard to allow for future fire flow requirements. 

 

 

 

In response to the encroachment of the daycare facility within the ESA buffer, the Authority, after consulting legal counsel, sent a letter to the Mayor of Ledyard, on April 12, 2016, expressing our concerns about future potential encroachment in the SCWA ESA, and seeking information as to the extent and nature of the existing encroachment. 

 

On June 2, 2016, Chairman Monahan and Mr. Cansler met with Mayor Finkelstein and members of the Ledyard staff and WPCA to discuss water supply to the proposed Aquatic Center, and the engineering feasibility study from Lenard Engineering.  Lenard’s study proposes an emergency interconnection to the Ledyard system, to meet anticipated fire flow requirements.  During the meeting SCWA agreed (pending approval of the Authority) to consider a proposal to hook the Aquatic Center to the WPCA main on

Rt. 117, on a temporary basis only, until SCWA can install a water main to the Aquatic Center.  Construction of the new water main would most likely occur in conjunction with a Town construction project extending Fairway Drive.   After some discussion, Mr. Eccard made a motion for the Authority 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.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, passed by a vote of 6-0 (Mr. Watson departed the meeting prior to this vote). 

 

7.  North Stonington – Water Line Easement

In 2014, an owner of a commercial North Stonington property, discovered that the water main on his property crosses outside of the SCWA easement.  The water main was installed by a hotel developer in 2007.  SCWA took over the water main after the hotel was constructed.   On April 26, 2016, SCWA received a request for water service for this address.  The proposed development is for a 4-story, 100 unit, senior housing center.  SCWA has stated that we can most likely provide adequate water capacity and pressure to the new facility, but we need engineering specifics to confirm.

 

8.  Town of North Stonington - New Center for Emergency Services

The Town of North Stonington is constructing a new Center for Emergency Services, which includes extending SCWA’s water distribution system 1500 feet, to the new Center for Emergency Services.  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. 

 

9.  Montville Oakdale Elementary School Water Supply

SCWA is working with the Montville School District to provide an alternate water source to the Oakdale School well system.  At the May 18, 2015 Authority Board meeting, the Authority approved supporting the Oakdale Elementary School either as a primary and/or back-up water provider.  SCWA was informed that Montville has included a budget line item in their FY16 schools budget for this project.  

 

10.  Asset Management Plans

Per the terms of the September 2015 Consent Agreement signed between SCWA, and the CT Department of Public Health (DPH), SCWA will submit an Asset Management Plan to DPH no later than July 1, 2016.  SCWA hired Lenard Engineering to assist with the Asset Management plan last year, and the draft final version was completed on June 9th.  Chairman Monahan requested that the General Manager send copies to all of the Authority members, and requested that if any members had comments, changes, etc. they reply to Mr. Cansler by Tuesday, June 21st.  If two or more members had significant changes, the Chairman will call a Special meeting, otherwise the requested changes would be incorporated and submitted with the Final version of the Asset Management Plan.

11.  Legislation of Fluoride in Drinking Water

At the last Representative Advisory Board (RAB) meeting, on April 21, 2016, the RAB approved a motion to have the Water Authority review materials regarding several studies on the impact of fluoride in water.  Per the motion, the Authority will make a recommendation at the July 2016 RAB meeting regarding the SCWA’s future support of Representative Carol Russell’s initiative to have the State of Connecticut convene an Expert Panel to study/discuss the impact of adding fluoride to the drinking water in the state. 

 

At the May 9, 2016 meeting the Authority discussed whether the Authority had the expertise and/or responsibility to address this issue.  SCWA does not add fluoride at any of our divisions, though other utilities within the SCWA district do add fluoride during their water purification process.  After some discussion Mr. Eccard agreed to prepare a draft statement, on behalf of the Authority, to be presented at the next RAB meeting, stating SCWA’s position on a study regarding the impact of adding fluoride to drinking water.  Mr. Eccard’s draft statement is as follows:

 

“Since SCWA is a creation of the State of Connecticut Legislature, and operated under the direction and regulatory authority of the Department of Public Health (DPH) and other State of Connecticut Authorities, Regulations, Directives, and Laws, we consider it inappropriate as a State-formed-Authority to seek an opinion on a product we do not use, and on which we have no resources of knowledge or competence.  We therefore decline to engage in a matter on which we find we have no standing.” 

 

After some discussion, Mr. Eccard made a motion to send the statement, as drafted in the paragraph above, to the RAB for discussion at their next meeting.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, passed by a vote of 6-0.

 

12.  Regional Considerations

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

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.  In conjunction with State Water Plan, DPH has coordinated the activities of the three Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs).   The Eastern Connecticut WUCC is scheduled to officially convene on June 17, 2016 at the SCCOG, from 1 to 3 pm.  Chairman Monahan and General Manager Cansler intend to represent SCWA at that meeting. 

 

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

 

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. One-year Performance Evaluation

At the January 2016 meeting, the Authority approved a motion to have the Authority’s Human Resources Committee meet to discuss possible changes and improvements to the SCWA employee evaluation process.  In April, General Manager Cansler provided legal guidance, and sample evaluations he received from our Labor Counsel, Suisman Shapiro to the Human Resources Committee members, along with a couple of other evaluations from his previous experience.  The Human Resources Committee met after the May 9 and June 13 Authority meetings to discuss the guidance and evaluations.   Based on these discussions made modifications in preparation for approval by the Authority.  

 

Other Business – None 

 

Report from Chairman  - Chairman Monahan stated that the Open House held in the new SCWA offices on May 19, 2016  was a success.  It was attended by several members of the Representative Advisory Board, a member of the Ledyard Town Council, and several Authority members.  Chairman Monahan mentioned that the SCWA staff did a great job preparing for the Open House, and thanked them for their efforts.

 

Report from Authority Members - None

 

Public Comment – None

 

On motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Ms. Franciosi, the Authority voted to adjourn the meeting at approximately 6:57 p.m. 

 

It was noted the next Authority meeting is scheduled to occur on July 11, 2016, 5:15 p.m. at

1649 Rt. 12, Gales Ferry, CT. 

 

                                                                                Joseph C.                                                                                                                                            Cansler                                                                                                                                             Secretary

 

 

 

 

 

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