UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
MAY 2, 2022
Mayor Foster called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m. In attendance were Council members Tim O’Brien, Tom Herz, Jose Medrano and Meghan Efland, Bob Sipes (Utilities Manager), Jennifer McCann (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mayor Foster asked if there were any additions or corrections to the minutes of the Utilities Commission meeting of April 4, 2022. Ms. Efland moved to approve the minutes of the Utilities Commission meeting of the April 4, 2022 meeting as presented, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mayor Foster stated that funds on hand for the Utilities Commission was $2,450,537.03 with designated capital funds set aside for capital projects in the amount of $1,249,923.68.
Mayor Foster asked for a motion to pay the bills. Mr. O’Brien moved to approve payment of the bills as submitted, was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Mr. Sipes stated that he gave the Council a summary sheet of costs as requested for larger expenses in the bills. He said that the meter yoke assembly costs were high and was expected to rise. The largest expense was the payment to the State of Maryland for the Bay Restoration Fund.
Mr. Sipes stated that he gave two tours of the Water Treatment Plan to Washington College Students since the last meeting.
Mr. Sipes stated that the engineer contracted for the new building at the water treatment plant told him that after sampling the soils, that the only suitable location for the water treatment plant is where the old barn is currently located on the property. He said that this would make the building larger in order to store much of what is currently being stored in the barn.
Mr. Foster stated that a meeting was held on Friday, April 29th with the Hospital and MDE in regard to the oil spill and was a culmination of over a year’s worth of negotiations surrounding the safeguards in place to prevent oil from ever reaching the Town’s drinking water supply wells. He said that Hospital’s transparency with the Town concerning the spill had been lacking over the years, and this leak happened over 30 years ago. Mayor Foster stated that once a pump and treat system was finally installed over 83,000 gallons of oil was removed in a 22 year period. In 2014, a surfactant named Ivey Sol was injected into the wells and the Town began receiving information at that time on how much oil was removed from the site. Mr. Sipes stated that no measurable amount of oil was pumped out of the ground after the Ivey Sol injections.
Mayor Foster stated that the Town was told by the EPA that no more than 50% of the oil can be removed from a site leading the Town to believe that over 160,000 gallons of oil had ultimately leaked into the ground. He said that the rest of the oil is unaccounted for. Mayor Foster stated that there was a paleo channel running under the Hospital that ran downgradient to the Town wells and also the way that the oil spill ran.
Mr. Sipes stated that the Town water plant has six (6) shallow wells downgradient from the Hospital. There were sentinel wells in place on Campus Avenue that are tested with the rest of the monitoring wells and would pick up evidence of any oil before it hit the drinking water wells, giving the Hospital an early warning that the pump and treat system needed to be turned back on.
Mr. Sipes stated that there were fifty-four (54) monitoring wells in place and the agreement moving forward was that MDE would continue to monitor twenty-eight (28) of them. He said that testing methods will change a bit but testing for TPHRO would continue and there will be separate tests for other substances while the pump and treat system is shut down.
Mayor Foster stated that the pump and treat system was now off, but he felt that progress was made, and an agreement was already in place that if any detects were found at the sentinel well line, a protective pump and treat system would have to be be reinstituted. The monitoring systems will be tested on a regular basis. Mayor Foster stated that the Town’s goal will always be to protect the Town water supply system. He said that the Hospital has a new consultant who has been more forthright with the Town, but their goal is to close out the site. A public meeting was agreed to as well and would be arranged for the future if the public wanted it.
Mr. Sipes stated that all measures have been taken to make sure that if contamination moves, the Town will know about it. He said that the Town’s drinking water was safe and not at risk. There have been zero level of detects in the drinking water and at the sentinel wells. He said that if anything was captured at the sentinel wells the system will be turned back on. Mayor Foster stated that if there were any hits on the monitoring wells, the testing would take place weekly instead of monthly.
Mayor Foster stated that the Environmental Committee found a pro-bono attorney, Beth Auerbach and Lynn Berguson, to help with this issue and thanked them for their assistance. The Town also has an attorney, Michael Forlini, who has been working on this issue for many years.
Mr. Sipes stated that Mr. Forlini was finishing a letter to MDE and the Hospital for permission so that APEX can perform independent testing of the sentinel wells for the Town.
There being no further business, Mr. O’Brien moved to adjourn the meeting at 6:26 p.m., was seconded by Ms. Efland and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan David Foster
Town Clerk Mayor