Minutes of the July 21, 2016 Meeting of the

Representative Advisory Board to the

Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority

Waterford Public Library

49 Rope Ferry Rd, Waterford, CT  06385

 

 

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:  Carol Russell, East Lyme; Martin Artale Jr., Groton (City);  Dean Antipas and Mary Lou Smith, Groton (Town);  Timothy Norris, Ledyard; Anthony Siragusa, Montville; Barry Weiner, New London; Jerry Morales, Preston;  James Fogarty and George Jackson, Salem; Chairman Dennison Allen and Jack Malone, Sprague;  Jeffrey Callahan; Stonington Borough; Jim Thevenet, Voluntown; Kristen Widham, Waterford.

 

Authority Members:  Chairman Edward Monahan, Harry Watson, Paul Eccard, Barbara Lee Franciosi, Peter Balestracci, Michael O’Connor. 

 

Authority Staff:   General Manager Josh Cansler

 

2.  Public Comment  - None.

3.  Approval of Prior Minutes – Vote Required

On motion of Mr. Jackson, seconded by Ms. Russell, the minutes of the April 21, 2016 meeting were unanimously approved, as distributed. 

 

4.  Report By The Authority Chairman

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

 

I.  Operational Activities

 

A.  Transfer of Lantern Hill Division

On June 23, 2016, , the Public Utility Regulatory Agency (PURA), and the Department of Public Health (DPH), held a Public Comment Hearing in Stonington, CT, for members of the public to discuss the proposed transfer of the Lantern Hill Division from SCWA to the Aquarion Water Company.  SCWA currently provides water for 23 residential customers in the Lantern Hill Division.  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.  There were no comments from the public. 

 

On June 24, 2016, representatives from PURA, DPH, and Aquarion conducted an on-site inspection of the facilities, equipment, and customer service area in the Lantern Hill Division.  The following week, on June 29th, PURA and DPH, and the Office of Consumer Counsel (OCC) held a final hearing in New Britain regarding the proposed transfer.  At the request of SCWA and Aquarion, the Hearing Officers agreed to move the timeline up for the transfer. 

Dr. Monahan mentioned that we are expecting approval of the transfer by the end of August, however OCC had expressed concern about Aquarion’s intent to lower the Lantern Hill customer rates to their Eastern Connecticut rate.  OCC is concerned that Aquarion has not properly accounted for all the transfer costs, and that their other customers may have to pick of some of the costs of adding the Lantern Hill subdivision to Aquarion’s Eastern Connecticut inventory.

 

B.  Chesterfield Division Upgrades

In response to complaints of occasional discolored water in the Montville Chesterfield Division last year, SCWA has implemented a series of projects to resolve the issue.  The discoloration is the result of higher than normal levels of manganese in the water, though still well below allowable limits established by the EPA.  In addition to cleaning the storage tank, and installing additional flushing hydrants to clean the water mains more effectively, we received approval to modify the chemical treatment process by adding phosphate to isolate the manganese in the water.  The results of the new treatment process have been very positive so far.  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 the Chesterfield project, and other similar projects to follow over the next few years, SCWA intends to construct a trailer-mounted mobile pump station that can be used to operate our regular pump stations during renovation projects, and/or emergency repairs.  We are hoping to have the pump skid package delivered within 6-8 weeks, and construction of the entire mobile pump trailer completed within 2-3 months.  This mobile pump trailer will be the only one of its kind in Eastern Connecticut, and will be available for emergency support, or project support, to other utilities, which could provide additional revenue for SCWA.

 

Mr. Jackson asked if we had established a proposed rate schedule for providing support to outside agencies using the mobile pump station.  General Manager Cansler stated that they had not established a rate schedule yet.

 

C.  Exclusive Service Areas in Ledyard

In March, and again in June 2016, Chairman Monahan and General Manager Cansler met with Ledyard Mayor Finkelstein, and members of the Ledyard staff and WPCA, to discuss water supply to potential commercial customers along a proposed extension of Fairway Drive in Ledyard Center.  This includes an Aquatic Center, planned for 2017.  SCWA hired Lenard Engineering to conduct an engineering feasibility study.  They proposed an emergency interconnection to the Ledyard system, to meet anticipated fire flow requirements.  At the June 2016 meeting the Authority approved a proposal 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.  (Since SCWA has more than sufficient supply via our Ledyard Division pump station, this proposed interim purchase of water is solely a reflection of the envisioned sequencing of the development of Fairway Drive. The detailed planning for the extension of this roadway has not been carried out, and thus SCWA cannot now site and construct its proposed Fairway Drive water main.  Since the town of Ledyard is anxious to accommodate the more immediate water needs of the Aquatic Center, and as SCWA is sympathetic to the town’s various economic development aims, the Authority sanctioned this interim solution.) 

 

Dr. Monahan stated that since Ledyard has in the past spread the cost of providing fire hydrants and fire protection capacity for their Ledyard WPCA customers, to the Town’s entire tax base, a precedent has been established for spreading the cost of any new fire hydrants and/or fire protection to all the town’s residents.   Dr. Monahan said he would keep the RAB informed of further meetings and developments regarding this issue.  Mr. Fogarty asked if we had received a response from the Town of Ledyard regarding the letter we sent in April about possible encroachment into the SCWA Exclusive Service Area (ESA).  Dr. Monahan stated that we had not received a formal reply yet.

 

II.  Planning Activities

 

A.  Asset Management Plans

Per the terms of the September 2015 Consent Agreement signed between SCWA, and the CT Department of Public Health (DPH), SCWA is required to submit an Asset Management Plan to DPH no later than July 1, 2016, and an updated Water Supply Plan by January 1, 2018.  The completed Asset Management Plan was submitted to DPH by July 1st, as required.  The next step is the award of a contract to an engineering consulting firm to prepare an updated Water Supply Plan. 

 

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 is convening three regional Water Utility Coordinating Committees (WUCCs).   The Eastern Connecticut WUCC officially convened on June 17, 2016.  Future WUCC member meetings will be every second Wednesday of the month at the Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) Office, at 1 pm.  These meetings are open to the public.  

 

Dr. Monahan mentioned that there used to be seven WUCCs in the state, and that the (former) Southeastern Connecticut WUCC was the only one of the seven WUCCS to have had a State approved WUCC.  He felt that this would help expedite the eastern WUCC process.  Mr. Jackson asked if potential water resources that are not currently being used as such would be addressed by the WUCC process.  He gave Millers Pond as an example.  Mr. Cansler stated that he was fairly sure all current and potential water resources were being reviewed.  He said he would follow up though to be sure.

 

Mr. Callahan asked for an update on the status of SCWA’s water resources resulting from the ongoing dry summer that was starting to create drought conditions in parts of Connecticut.  General Manager Cansler stated that, to date, our resources had not been impacted, but that we were monitoring our wells very closely.

 

C. 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.  Election of Officers

In June, the Authority elected Chairman Monahan to a second three-year term as Chairman.  At that same meeting, Harry Watson was elected as Vice-Chairman, Paul Eccard as Treasurer, and Josh Cansler as Secretary.   Those three offices are all one-year terms.   

 

B.  Fiscal Year 2017 Budget

The Authority, on June 13, 2016, adopted an operating budget of $1,515,100 for fiscal year 2017; a 2.4% increase over last year’s budget of $1,479,200.  This budget was based on no increase in water rates and service charges this year.  Last year’s budget included a rate increase of 5%. 

 

Authority Member Watson asked General Manager Cansler to give a brief update on the efforts of the SCWA staff to get a new insurance policy in place after our long-time insurance carrier had dropped SCWA, effective June 30, 2016.  Mr. Cansler that the insurance broker SCWA used for many years was sold to a large Chicago-based company earlier this year.  After little effort, and much time, the new broker informed SCWA, only two weeks before our insurance was set to expire, that they were unable to find any interested underwriters.   Mr. Cansler explained how the next day SCWA hired a new broker, from a local agency, who recommended shopping each policy separately.  After a lot of work by our new insurance broker (Bouvier Insurance), and Lisa Harraka (SCWA Office Manager), we were able to not only to get a new policy in place before July 1st, but at a much lower cost than anticipated.

 

C.  Consumer Confidence Reports

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.

 

D.  Open House for New SCWA Office Space

Dr. Monahan stated that SCWA hosted an Open House on May 19, 2016 in our new offices in Gales Ferry, which are located on the first floor of the same building where SCWA occupied second floor offices from 1985 until this year.  The Open House was attended by several members of the Representative Advisory Board, members of the Ledyard Town Council, and several Authority members.   Dr. Monahan said that the Open House had been a success, and that any of the Representative Advisory Board members were always welcome to stop by and visit the new offices.

 

IV.  Report from Water Authority: SCWA Support of Future Legislation of Fluoride in Drinking Water

 

At the last Representative Advisory Board (RAB) meeting in April, the RAB approved a motion asking  the Water Authority to review materials regarding several studies on the impact of fluoride in water, and  to make a recommendation to the RAB regarding SCWA’s future support of legislation concerning fluoride in drinking water, such recommendation  to include a possible initiative to have the State of Connecticut convene an Expert Panel to study the impacts of adding fluoride to drinking water. 

At the May and June meetings, 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 much discussion, the Authority approved the following statement for forwarding to the Representative Advisory Board: 

 

“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.” 

 

5.  Discussion on Fluoride Issue

Mr. Siragusa made a motion, seconded by Mr. Weiner, that the Board accept the Authority’s recommendation not to engage in the fluoride discussion, based on the fact that SCWA does not have the resources of knowledge or competence to properly address the issue.  Chairman Allen asked if there was any discussion of the motion before it was brought to a vote.  Ms. Russell asked for more clarification on the applicability of the authority’s recommendation.  Authority Member Eccard, who drafted the recommendation on behalf of the Authority explained that SCWA does not have the in-house knowledge or experience to make an informative commentary on the issue of adding fluoride to drinking water.   Mr. Jackson said that although SCWA may not have the expertise or basis to address this issue, which does not mean it is not a legitimate issue that should be addressed through the right channels.  He recommended that Ms. Russell continue her campaign through her legislators.  Several RAB members echoed Mr. Jackson’s comments.  There being no further discussion, Chairman Allen brought the motion to a vote.  The motion was approved with 14 votes in favor, and one vote opposed. 

 

6.  Report by the Chairman of the Representative Advisory Board – Chairman Allen stated that he had nothing to add to the report and discussions from the meeting.

 

7.  Representative Advisory Board Member Reports

The RAB Appointments Committee Chairman, Mr. Callahan reported that the term for Authority member Nicholas Mullane (of North Stonington) is set to expire in September 2016.  Mr. Mullane’s position is one of the two Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments (SCCOG) positions on the Water Authority.  Mr. Callahan read a letter from SCCOG, dated 6 July 2016, nominating Mr. Mullane for reappointment to the Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority, for another five year term, starting September 19, 2016.  Mr. Callahan made a motion to appoint Mr. Nicholas Mullane to serve on the Authority for another five years.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Malone, passed unanimously.

 

8.  New Business   - none

 

9.  Adjourn

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

7:41 p.m.

 

 

                                                                                                                Josh Cansler, Secretary

                                                                                                                Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority