Draft Minutes of the July 10, 2017 Water Authority Meeting

Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority

1649 Route 12, Gales Ferry, CT

 

 

 

Present

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

Authority Staff:  General Manager Josh Cansler

 

Call to Order

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

 

Public Comment on any Item on the Agenda – None

 

Discussion of Millers Pond with Tom and Rob Schacht

On March 31, 2017, the SCWA Miller’s Pond sub-committee (Dr. Monahan, Mr. Eccard, and Ms. Franciosi) met with Mr. Rob Schacht.  The Schacht family has in the past offered SCWA the opportunity to purchase Millers Pond.  At that meeting, 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 that would use the pond as a water resource.  He stated that the Schacht family intended to advertise sale of the pond worldwide.  In late May, Tom and Rob Schacht, representing the family that owns Millers Pond, in Waterford, requested to meet with the Authority again.  Mr. Eccard coordinated the meeting for this Authority meeting. 

 

After introductions, Mr. Rob Schacht stated that the Schacht’s had placed Millers Pond on the real estate market, but has not pushed hard for a sale to date.  He said their preference is still that the pond be preserved as a water resource, however they have had very little luck getting anyone in Southeastern Connecticut interested in preserving Millers Pond as a water resource.  He said the purpose of meeting with the Water Authority was to see if they could regenerate interest, and perhaps explore other options for the pond.  He wanted to know if SCWA was still interested in the property as a future water resource.   

 

Mr. O’Conner stated that future planning for water resources in SE Connecticut was part of SCWA’s original charter, and he agreed that Millers Pond represented a future source of water, should the current local resources be negatively impacted in some way, or if there is a significant increase in demand. 

 

Chairman Monahan said that SCWA does have significant bonding capability, but that the State reviews all applications for bonding, and he was not sure they could justify a need for purchasing and/or developing the pond given the excess current water capacity amongst the local water utilities.  He said that they would have to figure out a way to convince the State that Millers Pond is an investment. 

 

Mr. Mullane questioned whether it was cost effective to develop the pond, and if so, how would it be funded?  Chairman Monahan stated that purchasing the pond for future use was a business proposition, and that SCWA was not really in the business of acquiring assets for such a purpose. 

Mr. Tom Schacht asked what SCWA’s goals were for the region?  Chairman Monahan responded that our primary goal is to provide reliable water service to our customers and the region. 

 

Mr. Tom Schacht said that he felt that the process from previous discussions was somewhat flawed.  He also felt that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE) had thrown a wrench in the original process by some of their determinations and requirements regarding the pond.  In retrospect he thinks they would make more progress with USACE if SCWA was the permittee.  He mentioned that the potential approved yield from the pond would be around 1.5 million gallons per day (MGD), however recent changes to the stream flow could alter that number.  Mr. Rob Schacht added that these changes might reduce allowable stream flow from existing sources, which could impact the need for water from Millers Pond. 

 

Mr. Tom Schacht stated that Lake Konomoc, which serves the New London and Waterford water systems is “chronically stressed”, according to the State.  Mr. O’Connor said that Millers Pond could certainly benefit Lake Konomoc, especially in a time of emergency. 

 

Chairman Monahan asked, where do we go from here?  He asked the Schacht’s if they had an outline for the future.  Mr. Eccard asked if the Schacht’s could help formulate a plan, or goals, for the way forward.  He said he was still concerned about continuing with discussions about Millers Pond because of SCWA’s limited financial capacity, however, he agreed to work with the Schacht family to develop some goals and possible scenario’s regarding Millers Pond.

 

After the Schacht brothers departed, Mr. Eccard suggested that maybe the Chairman should convene a meeting of the SCWA Millers Pond sub-committee.  Chairman Monahan proposed that SCWA re-convene the sub-committee after the Schacht family provides some goals regarding their ideas about the way forward.  The Authority agreed this was the best solution, and everyone agreed that re-looking at options for Milers Pond was a good idea. 

 

Approval of Prior Minutes

On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, the Authority approved the minutes of the June 12, 2017 Water Authority Meeting, by a unanimous vote of all members present. 

 

Correspondence

1.  (Attachment 1)  Copies of SCWA Exclusive Service Area (ESA) Statements of Confirmation along with copies of the Montville and Ledyard’s ESA Statements of Confirmation.  These Statements are excerpts from Coordinated Water System Plan: Final Recommended Exclusive Service Area Boundaries in the Eastern Public Water Supply Management Area; dated June 14, 2017.  Mr. Cansler stated that this correspondence would be discussed in Item #14c of the General Manager’s Report.

 

2.  (Attachment 2)  Copies of SCWA Schedule of Related Activities for proposed FY 2018 Rate Increase along with a copy of memorandum to Representative Advisory Board (RAB) Chairman, Re: Request for Representative Advisory Board Consideration of an Increase in SCWA Water Rates, dated June 20, 2017.  Mr. Cansler stated that this correspondence would be discussed in Item #16 of the General Manager’s Report.

 

 

 

 

 

General Manager’s Report

1.  Update on Miller’s Pond

Previously discussed (above).

 

2.  Transition of SCWA Bank Accounts to new Bank

(Attachment #3:  Proposal of Services from Dime Bank, Charter Oaks Credit Union, and Chelsea Groton Bank)

On May 15, 2017 SCWA received a Letter from Bank of America announcing termination of all our current bank accounts, effective August 15, 2017.  Reason given was that Bank of America has changed the type of accounts they intend to manage in the future.  At the June Authority meeting, General Manager Cansler said he would visit three local banks and/or credit unions, and present his findings at the July Authority meeting. 

 

After meeting with two banks and a credit union, and after reviewing the three proposals, Mr. Cansler recommended that SCWA move our accounts to Chelsea Groton Bank.  Although all three banks were professional, he felt Chelsea Groton was the most enthusiastic about getting our business.  They already had their proposal for services ready at the initial meeting, which included a plan for our transition from Bank of America.  They also introduced us to their staff that would be working the transition with us.

 

After some discussion by the Authority regarding the benefits of each institution, Mr. Eccard made a motion that the Authority accept the general manager’s recommendation to transition our Bank of America accounts to Chelsea Groton Bank.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, passed by a vote of 7-0. 

 

3.  Emergency Interconnections/Regionalization Planning

Lori Mathieu (Chief, DPH Drinking Water Section), and Cam Walden (DPH Drinking Water Section, Supervisory Engineer), attended the May 8, 2017 Authority meeting to explain the $15 million DWSRF funding package that DPH is providing 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.  This includes interconnections between the five SCWA Ledyard divisions, and the Ledyard WPCA system. 

 

On June 29, 2017, Chairman Monahan and General Manager Cansler met with Lori Mathieu and Cam Walden again, along with representatives from Groton Utilities and Ledyard WPCA, to discuss an agreement between SCWA and Ledyard WPCA for the emergency interconnections.  According to DPH, a formal agreement is required by the state before funding can be provided for the emergency interconnections.  Groton Utilities, which has the lead on the project, and also manages all of the Ledyard WPCA functions, agreed to prepare the draft of the agreement, for review by the other parties.  There was no discussion of long-term regional planning, or of a consent agreement with DPH, during this meeting.

 

Chairman Monahan said one of the things we stressed during the meeting was that SCWA must sign off on all plans to ensure the emergency interconnections meet all of our requirements and needs.  He also mentioned that the agreement should include rate we would pay for any water that goes through the interconnections. 

 

 

 

4.  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 had proposed alternatives to provide water from our Ledyard Center system, the developer requested approval from DPH to install a well on the proposed site.  In April 2017 DPH granted approval of 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.  Mr. Cansler said that there has not been any signs of construction, or well drilling, at the proposed Aquatic Center site to date.

 

5.  Montville Storage Tank

At the February 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.  Mr. Cansler stated that this project was completed by SCWA in late June, with assistance from various outside sub-contractors. 

 

6.  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.  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.  SCWA is still awaiting a few electrical items to complete the mobile pump station.  Once it is completed, it will need to be tested, before it can be certified by DPH.

 

7.  DWSRF Call for Projects

In late April 2017 SCWA submitted application packages and concept designs for three projects under the State DPH Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF).  This program provides low-interest loans, with the potential for subsidization, for eligible projects in the form of principal forgiveness to the extent allowed by Federal and/or State law.  SCWA is awaiting the results of the application review process, to determine if any of the three SCWA projects qualify for funding. 

 

8.  DWSRF Emergency Generator Program

Through the DPH Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (DWSRF) program, SCWA received approval for three emergency generator projects.  These three projects, at the Tower, Montville, and Chesterfield pump stations, were awarded to two separate contractors in June, following a public bidding process.  The completion date for these three projects is December 31, 2017.  General Manager Cansler stated that a preconstruction conference was held on-site, on June 16th, with Tower Systems, LLC, which has the contract for the Montville and Tower Division emergency generators.  He expects that there will be a similar meeting with Custom Electric soon.  All three generator projects are scheduled for completion by December 2017.

 

 

 

 

9.  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 awarded preparation of the updated SCWA Water Supply Plan to Lenard Engineering, based on price and experience with SCWA systems.   The General Manager and Lenard Engineering meet monthly to consolidate and review data required in the updated Water Supply Plan.

 

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.  Mr. Cansler stated that representatives from the Montville Schools indicated they plan to complete the connection during the school summer recess. 

 

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.  Mr. Mullane stated that both projects will be starting soon.

 

12.  Town of North Stonington School Upgrade Project

SCWA has been working with the Design/Engineer Firm, as needed, to assist with the initial engineering and design of a project to renovate existing facilities, and construct some additions, to the Town of North Stonington Elementary School and Middle/High School.  At the May 8, 2017 Authority meeting, Mr. Mullane indicated the project could be at risk as a result of potential cuts to state allocations for schools statewide in the pending State Budget.  Mr. Mullane said that although the State budget has not been worked out, the Town is moving forward with this project, for now.

 

13.  Consumer Confidence Reports

General Manager Cansler stated that in June, SCWA distributed Consumer Confidence Reports, also referred to as “Annual Quality Reports”, to each of our approximately 2800 customers.  Because of the nature of SCWA’s water service operations, seventeen distinct reports were prepared and distributed.  These reports were researched, written, and copied completely in-house.  As in the past, processing the reports for mailing, via the U.S. Postal service, was carried out by Community Enterprises, SCWA’s co-tenant at 1649 Rt. 12, Gales Ferry. 

 

 14.  Regional Considerations

 

a)  Drought Update

Effective May 8, 2017 Drought Advisory remains in effect for all of the state’s eight counties.  The State’s Interagency Drought Workgroup has determined that while precipitation has improved over the last several months, streamflow and groundwater levels have demonstrated some volatility, and remain vulnerable. 

 

 

 

 

b)  State Water Plan and Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCC):

The State of Connecticut is currently in the process of developing a State Water Plan for the management of water resources within the state.  In conjunction with State Water Plan, DPH has coordinated the activities of the three Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs).   The Eastern Connecticut 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 said that he had included copies of SCWA Exclusive Service Area (ESA) Statements of Confirmation along with copies of the Montville and Ledyard’s ESA Statements of Confirmation in the correspondence folders (Attachment 1).  Mr. Cansler said pointed out that although both Montville and Ledyard signed their Statements of Confirmation they both questioned SCWA’s ESA’s boundaries.  Mr. Cansler stated that he would follow up with both regarding their concerns. 

 

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.  Next Representative Advisory Board (RAB) Meeting

Mr. Cansler reminded the Authority that the next SCWA Representative Advisory Board (RAB) meeting will be held at 7 p.m. on July 20, 2017, at the Montville Public Safety Building.  The regular meeting will be preceded by a public hearing on a proposed FY 2018 rate increase.  Copies of SCWA Schedule of Related Activities for proposed FY 2018 Rate Increase, and a copy of memorandum to Representative Advisory Board (RAB) Chairman regarding the request for RAB consideration of an increase in SCWA Water Rates was included in the correspondence folder (Attachment 2). 

 

Other Business - None

 

Report from Chairman  - None 

 

Report from Authority Members - None

 

Public Comment – None

 

Adjourn  

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 August 14, 2017, 5:15 p.m. at

1649 Rt. 12, Gales Ferry, CT. 

 

                                                                                                               

 

                                                                                                                Joseph C. Cansler                                                                                                                                                                              Secretary