Draft Minutes of the August 14, 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, Peter Balestracci, and Nicholas Mullane  

Authority Staff:  General Manager Josh Cansler

 

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

 

Approval of Prior Minutes

On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, the Authority approved the minutes of the July 10, 2017 Water Authority Meeting, by a unanimous vote of all members present. 

 

Correspondence - None

 

General Manager’s Report

1.  Update on Miller’s Pond

On March 31, 2017, the SCWA Miller’s Pond sub-committee (Dr. Monahan, Mr. Eccard, and Ms. Franciosi) met with Mr. Rob Schacht, representing the family that owns Miller’s Pond, at the SCWA offices in Gales Ferry.  The Schacht family has in the past offered SCWA the opportunity to purchase Miller’s Pond.  At that meeting, Mr. Schacht gave a background on the history of the pond, and stated that their preference was to sell the pond to an entity that would use the pond as a water resource. However, since there has not been any interest in the pond as a future water resource, he announced that the Schacht family intended to advertise sale of the property worldwide starting in April. 

 

At the July Authority meeting, both Rob Schacht, and his brother Tom, gave an update to the Authority regarding Miller’s Pond.  They said that although the property is on the market, their preference is still to preserve the pond as a water resource.  Their purpose for speaking to the Authority was to see if SCWA could help regenerate interest to explore other options for the pond.  They felt recent changes to stream flow regulations might negatively impact other local reservoirs, and perhaps enhance the need for preserving Miller’s Pond as a water resource.  Authority member Paul Eccard agreed to work with the Schacht family, on behalf of the Authority, to develop some goals and possible scenarios regarding the future use of Miller’s Pond.  

 

Mr. Eccard and General Manager Cansler met again with Rob Schacht on August 14th.  At this meeting Mr. Schacht presented some ideas he and his brother, Tom, had discussed regarding ways for SCWA to assist the Miller’s Pond L.L.C. (MPLLC) with moving forward with the excavation permitting process, and operation of Miller’s Pond as a regional wholesale water supply.  Their ideas included the possibility of SCWA and MPLLC creating a joint venture where profits from excavation could be shared.  SCWA’s revenues would be applied towards developing the pond as a regional water resource.

During the Authority meeting, Mr. Eccard summarized the meeting earlier in the day, and the concepts and ideas that Rob Schacht had presented.  He mentioned that there was definitive interest by at least one contractor to excavate the pond, so the idea of a joint venture was feasible.  He said that he had stressed to Mr. Schacht that any kind of venture that included SCWA would require there be no financial burdens on the current SCWA customers.  The Authority agreed as a whole that any funds expended on a joint venture, and excavating and/or developing Miller’s Pond, would have to come from revenues from the pond, or outsides sources such as state or federal grants.   

 

Chairman Monahan asked about SCWA’s possible liabilities involved in a joint venture with MPLLC. 

Mr. Eccard stated that MPLLC really had no other conduit, other than SCWA, to pursue the use of Miller’s Pond as a water resource.  He said that if SCWA is interested we should consult with an attorney regarding a joint venture, and our liabilities if we did so.  Mr. Eccard made a motion to have the Authority seek legal counsel regarding our future involvement with Miller’s Pond.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, was approved by all five members present.

 

Chairman Monahan mentioned that Mr. Herbert Schacht, Rob and Tom Schacht’s father, had passed away the week before.  He suggested that based on SCWA’s involvement with the Schacht family for many years trying to develop Miller’s Pond as a regional water resource, perhaps SCWA should send a condolence card, and make a contribution to the Waterford Country School, where Mr. Schacht had served as Director for over 40 years.  Mr. Eccard made a motion to send a condolence card and contribution, as suggested.  This motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, was approved by all five members present.

 

2.  Transition of SCWA Bank Accounts to new Bank

In May SCWA received a Letter from Bank of America announcing termination of 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 July Authority meeting, the General Manager presented proposals from three banks/credit unions.  After reviewing the three proposals the Authority voted to transition our Bank of America accounts to Chelsea Groton Bank. 

 

General Manager Cansler stated that the transition has gone very smoothly to date.  He said that signature cards for all accounts were approved on July 25th, direct deposit of payroll checks began on July 27, and that all SCWA Bank of America accounts would be closed as of August 15th.

 

3.  Emergency Interconnections/Regionalization Planning

The State Department of Public Health (DPH) is providing Groton Utilities a $15 million DWSRF funding package 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. 

 

Chairman Monahan and Mr. Cansler met with DPH (Lori Mathieu and Cam Walden) in June, along with representatives from Groton Utilities and Ledyard WPCA, to discuss an agreement between SCWA and Ledyard WPCA 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.  

 

Mr. Cansler and SCWA Foreman Brandon Belair met with Groton Utilities on August 2, 2017 to discuss the draft agreement and technical issues regarding the emergency interconnection projects in Ledyard.  Mr. Cansler provided a copy of the draft agreement to Chairman Monahan and the SCWA legal counsel for review.  Mr. Cansler presented an updated copy of the draft agreement with recommended changes to the Authority.  He suggested that the other Authority members review the draft agreement, along with the suggested modifications, and get back with him by the end of the week if they had any more suggested changes or modifications. 

 

4.  North Stonington E-Coli Violation

Routine bacteria samples taken in North Stonington on July 11, 2017 indicated a presence of e-coli at one sample location, and total coliform (TC) at several sample locations.  SCWA field staff resampled the next day, at the same locations, and all samples were negative for e-coli.  However some samples from distribution and the storage tank were still positive for total coliform.  Based on the fact that the TC samples from the wells were negative, we determined that the total coliform problem was in the storage tank, which we disinfected immediately. 

 

General Manger Cansler stated that unfortunately, during the process of determining, and resolving, the problem, SCWA staff did not accurately follow the new flowchart issued by DPH to assist with following their new bacteria protocols established last year.  The old protocols required notification only if the repeat (2nd) e-coli sample was positive, not the initial routine sample.   Mr. Cansler said that after we realized our mistake, we called DPH to alert them.  Although the repeat sample was negative DPH still required that we issue a boil water notice, until a third set of samples were collected and verified the absence of e-coli, or total coliform, in the system.  Mr. Eccard asked if there would be any fines forthcoming.  Mr. Cansler said he was not sure if there would be.

 

5.  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; both of which are in the SCWA Exclusive Service Area.  Although SCWA proposed alternatives to provide water from our Ledyard Center system, DPH granted approval of a well for the Aquatic Center, with the stipulation that they 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 site to date.

 

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.  The 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.

 

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.  Early indications are that at least two of the SCWA projects submitted will score high on the application review process.

8.  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.  SCWA field staff worked on the mobile pump station, as time allowed, between routine checks and emergency repairs of mains, wells, and pump stations.  The project was finally completed last month.  Mr. Cansler stated that testing of the mobile pump station is planned for August, and that they had reached out to DPH regarding approval requirements, if any, for the mobile pump station.

 

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, the Authority selected Lenard Engineering to prepare the Water Supply Plan for SCWA.  General Manager Cansler stated that he had received a draft copy of the plan and was in the process of reviewing it.  He is meeting monthly with Lenard Engineering regarding development of the updated Water Supply Plan.

 

10.  Montville Oakdale Elementary School Water Supply

In 2015 the Authority approved a connection to the Montville Oakdale Elementary School.   The school currently operates off of an on-site well system.  A cost agreement that was satisfactory for both parties was agreed upon last year, and the Montville Schools Finance committee authorized funding earlier this year.  General Manager Cansler said that they had completed the connection on August 1st, installed the meter on August 8th, and that SCWA began providing water the same day.

 

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. Cansler said that the pressure test had been done that day and the results were good.

 

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.  Currently this project is pending approval of the State Budget, which will determine allocations for schools statewide.

 

13.  Regional Considerations

 

a)  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.  

 

At the July WUCC meeting, the Montville WPCA stated they still had questions regarding the SCWA and Norwich ESAs in Montville.  Mr. Cansler met with Brian Lynch of the Montville WPCA on July 13th to discuss the ESA issues.  He also had a discussion with Mark Decker of Norwich Utilities regarding a conflict with the Norwich and SCWA ESA boundaries in Montville.

 

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.

 

Mr. Cansler mentioned that the statewide Drought Advisory had been lifted the previous month.

 

14.  Annual Audit

At the SCWA Representative Advisory Board (RAB) quarterly meeting on April 20, 2017, the RAB approved the selection of Sandra Welwood, LLC, to conduct the annual audit for SCWA.  Ms. Welwood conducted her initial pre-audit coordination meeting with SCWA staff on July 12, 2017.  Mr. Cansler said that she intends to have her firm conduct their on-site audit visit on August 29th and 30th, and she hopes to have the audit completed in October.

 

Other Business

Chairman Monahan asked when the evaluation protocols for the General Manager had been approved by the Authority’s Human Resources Committee.  Mr. Cansler stated that they had been passed at the August Authority meeting in 2016.  Chairman Monahan said that since one year has passed the Human Resources Committee should discuss evaluating the General Manager.  He asked Mr. Cansler to email the approved Performance Appraisal Form to all of the members of the committee.

 

Report from Chairman  - None

 

Report from Authority Members - None

 

Public Comment – None

 

Adjourn 

On motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Watson, the Authority voted to adjourn the meeting at approximately 6:27 p.m. 

 

It was noted the next Authority meeting is scheduled to occur on September 11, 2017, 5:15 p.m. at

1649 Rt. 12, Gales Ferry, CT. 

 

                                                                                                               

 

                                                                                                                Joseph C. Cansler                                                                                                                                                                             Secretary