Draft Minutes of the September 11, 2017 Water Authority Meeting

Southeastern Connecticut Water Authority

1649 Route 12, Gales Ferry, CT

 

 

 

Present

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

Authority Staff:  General Manager Josh Cansler

 

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

 

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

 

Approval of Prior Minutes

On a motion of Mr. Eccard, seconded by Mr. Balestracci, the Authority approved the minutes of the August 14, 2017 Water Authority Meeting, by a unanimous vote of all members present. 

 

Correspondence - None

 

General Manager’s Report

Due to the fact that Attorney Kepple was present to discuss the emergency interconnections agreement, Mr. Eccard made a motion to modify the order of discussion topics on the Meeting Agenda, and discuss item #2 of the General Manager’s report (Emergency Interconnections/Regionalization Planning) first.  This motion, seconded by Ms. Franciosi, was approved by a unanimous vote of all members present. 

1.  Emergency Interconnections/Regionalization Planning

As part of a $15 million DWSRF funding package Groton Utilities will install emergency water main interconnections between all five SCWA Ledyard divisions, and the Ledyard WPCA system.   During a June meeting with Department of Health (DPH) representatives, Groton Utilities, which has the lead on the project, and also manages all of the Ledyard WPCA functions, agreed to prepare a draft emergency water supply agreement between SCWA, the Town of Ledyard, and Groton Utilities.  Chairman Monahan and General Manager Cansler received a draft copy of the agreement on August 2, 2017, and met with SCWA legal counsel (Mr. Nick Kepple) on August 10th to review.  They presented an updated copy of the draft agreement, with suggested modifications, at the August 14th Authority meeting. 

 

On August 28, 2017, Chairman Monahan and Mr. Cansler met with DPH (Lori Mathieu and Cam Walden), along with the Groton City Mayor, and representatives from Groton Utilities to discuss the draft agreement.  After discussing suggested modifications, Groton Utilities agreed to revise the draft agreement and send copies to SCWA and our legal counsel for review.  The revised draft agreement was received on September 5, 2017.   

 

Attorney Kepple met with Chairman Monahan and Mr. Cansler on September 11, 2017, just prior to the Authority meeting, to discuss the revised agreement, which did not include many of the changes requested at the Aug 28th meeting.  At the Authority meeting Attorney Kepple went through the revised agreement with the Authority members, and discussed SCWA’s response.  Attorney Kepple stated that he would meet with the Groton Utilities attorney later in the week.  Mr. Eccard made a motion for the Chairman, General Manager, and Attorney Kepple to work together with Groton Utilities to finalize the agreement.  His motion, seconded by Mr. Mullane, was approved by a vote of 6-0.  The Chairman mentioned that there may be a need to hold a special meeting prior to the next Authority meeting in October to approve the agreement, when it is finalized.  

 

2.  Update on Miller’s Pond

In March, the SCWA Miller’s Pond sub-committee (Dr. Monahan, Mr. Eccard, and Ms. Franciosi) met with Mr. Rob Schacht, who was representing the family that owns Miller’s Pond.  In July Rob Schacht and his brother, Tom Schacht, met with the Authority.  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, on behalf of the Authority, agreed to work with the Schacht family, 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 a memo that he and his brother, Tom, had prepared, which included ideas and concepts for SCWA to assist the Miller’s Pond L.L.C. (MPLLC) to move 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.  Mr. Eccard summarized the concepts and ideas presented by Mr. Schacht to the Authority later the same day.  The Authority agreed as a whole that any funds expended on a joint venture, and on 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.   At the same meeting the Authority voted to have legal counsel review the concept memo prepared by the Schacht’s.  On August 21st Mr. Schacht gave a tour of Miller’s Pond to Mr. Cansler, and Authority members Mr. Watson, Mr. Balestracci, and Mr. Eccard. 

 

Mr. Eccard stated that we had forwarded a copy of the Schacht’s memo to Attorney Kepple for review and comments.  Mr. Eccard suggested that the SCWA Miller’s Pond subcommittee meet at 4 pm prior to the next Authority meeting, on October 16, 2017, to discuss Attorney Kepple’s thoughts on the memo, and the way forward for SCWA.  The sub-committee agreed to this meeting time.  Mr. Balestracci asked if soil samples had ever been taken to determine the viability of quarrying for gravel.  Chairman Monahan stated that samples had been collected many years ago, when the idea originally emerged.

 

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; 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.

 

4.  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.  Site work has been mostly completed on all three projects.  Once the generators arrive they will be installed and connected to the pump stations at all three sites.  The completion date for these three projects is December 31, 2017.

 

5.  DWSRF Call for Projects

In 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.

 

6.  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 in August.  SCWA is awaiting approval/certification of the mobile pump station prior to testing the station. 

 

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, the Authority selected Lenard Engineering to prepare the Water Supply Plan for SCWA.  General Manager Cansler received a draft copy of the plan in August, and returned it back to Lenard Engineering, with comments, on September 1st.  A final draft copy of the Water Supply Plan should be ready for review in October.

 

8.  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 construction contractors on both projects, as needed, to assist with planning the main extension and emergency center water system.  Successful pressure tests of the new water main, monitored by SCWA staff, were conducted on August 14 and 28, 2017. 

 

9.  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.

 

 

 

 

10.  Annual Audit

Sandra Welwood conducted her on-site audit visit August 29-30, 2017.  Her firm, Sandra Welwood, LLC, was selected by the Representative Advisory Board (RAB) to conduct the annual audit for SCWA.  Ms. Welwood said she will return for a follow-up visit in mid-September.  She hopes to have the draft audit completed prior to the October 16th Authority meeting.  General Manager Cansler recommended that Ms. Welwood present the draft audit to the RAB Finance Committee, and any Authority members that want to stick around, after the October 16, 2017 Authority meeting.  Mr. Cansler recommended that Ms. Welwood then present the Annual Audit Report to RAB at their quarterly meeting on October 19th.

 

11.  Claim by Raspberry Junction Holding, LLC vs SCWA

Raspberry Junction, owners of the Bellissimo Grande Hotel in North Stonington, filed a legal claim against SCWA for losses incurred during the water outage that resulted from the rupture of a pressure tank in 2015.  Water was not available for approximately 18 hours, and a boil water notice was in effect for several days.  Raspberry Junction is seeking relief in the amount of $15,000.  This claim was forwarded to our insurance company at the time, Gladfelter Insurance.  They hired the law firm of Tang & Maravelis, P.C. in New London to handle the case.  Although Gladfelter’s attorneys agreed to settle for slightly less than the amount claimed, Raspberry Junction’s attorneys would not agree to less.  A pre-argument Conference was held at the Norwich Courthouse on September 6, 2017.  The trial is scheduled to start on December 5, 2017, unless a settlement is reached beforehand. 

 

12.  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.

 

Other Business

General Manager Cansler said that SCWA is out of the emblem stickers for the doors of the new truck we received last month.  He stated that this might be a good opportunity to make to changes to the current design, which wasn’t that easy to read.  He passed around a few alternatives for the new design, which included a “Water for the Future” logo on the tailgate.  After some discussion the Authority agreed on one of the new designs, and the logo on the tailgate. 

 

Report from Chairman

Chairman Monahan stated that, as discussed at the August meeting, the Authority’s Human Resources Committee had completed a written annual evaluation on General Manager Cansler.  After the evaluation was completed, Chairman Monahan had reviewed the evaluation with Mr. Cansler.  Mr. Eccard mentioned that the Authority should consider having CBIA do another salary survey to compare SCWA’s annual salaries with similar utilities and firms. 

 

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 6:37 p.m. 

 

It was noted the next Authority meeting is scheduled to occur on October 16, 2017, 5:15 p.m. at

1649 Rt. 12, Gales Ferry, CT. 

 

                                                                                                               

 

                                                                                                  Joseph C. Cansler                                                                                                                                                                                                              Secretary