UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
SEPTEMBER 8, 2020
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:35 p.m. In attendance were Council members David Foster, Thomas Herz, Ellsworth Tolliver and Meghan Efland, Bob Sipes (Utilities Manager), Town Manager Bill Ingersoll, Jennifer Mulligan (Town Clerk) and guests.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Utilities Commission meeting minutes of August 3, 2020. Rev. Tolliver moved to approve the minutes of August 3, 2020 as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Foster and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that cash on hands for the Utilities Commission were $2,315,557.42 with $1,068,400.00 set aside for capital projects.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay the bills. Ms. Efland moved to pay bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Mr. Sipes stated that he was working on a leak at one of the nursing homes on Morgnec Road.
Mr. Sipes stated that he was waiting on an inspection report from MDE regarding the Hospital oil spill.
Mr. Sipes stated that he was working with John Funk, Inc. to replace a broken touchscreen. The plant is working well even with the touchscreen down but this would be a large ticket item in the upcoming bills to be paid.
Mr. Sipes stated that his crew was back to working full staff.
Mr. Sipes stated that Mr. Forlini was working on a letter to MDE regarding the Hospital oil spill. He said that the Town sent a letter to MDE with questions which was ignored. He said that he did not know why they were using the sillca gel testing rather than the THPRDO standard test. Mr. Sipes stated that hydrocarbons are being removed ground water but there was no way to get a total number when the silica gel test is removing them. Mr. Sipes stated that he was waiting to see a response as to whether there were previous shutdowns that the Town was unaware of. He said that as far as he knows, all the wells at the Hospital were up and running.
Mr. Foster asked if Mr. Sipes knew anything about the new company coming in to work on the remediation process. Mr. Sipes stated that all he has found is that the new company was litigious, with lawyers on staff, with a focus on closing out rather than working on remediation efforts. He said that he thought they would push MDE to close out the site.
Mr. Sipes stated that the EPA has a guideline on groundwater and he wanted to begin referring to wells as a Class I aquifer, meaning that it was being used for drinking water (the cost to replace that source to a population of 500 or more makes the alternative not financially feasible). He said that all of Chestertown’s 6 shallow wells were on the Class I aquifer.
Rev. Tolliver asked what a citizen of Chestertown could do in fighting to keep the drinking water safe. Mr. Sipes stated that residents could contact Councilmembers as the more it is heard about, the more weight is put upon those listening. He said that there were only a certain amount of resources at the Town’s disposal, but if the shallow wells had contamination in them it would cost between $500,000 to $1 million, plus $50,000.00 for filtration per month in costs, and/or finding another location for their drinking water. He said that it would be financially draining and would cost more to the residents to have water.
Mr. Sipes stated that if oil shows up the Town must remediate or shut down the wells and meet daily demands with deep water wells, which would run 23 hours a day in the short-term. Other options would have to be investigated for long-term solutions.
Mayor Cerino stated that the Town tried to become a party with MDE and the Hospital and there is an agreement in place where if oil leeches into the wells, the Hospital is liable for remediation. He said that he did not think that much more would be done by the Hospital. Mayor Cerino stated that there are three (3) sentinel wells in place that would provide a warning if oil did run from the spill. He said that the Town had to remain vigilant and do their best to make MDE hold the Hospital responsible.
There being no further questions or comments, Ms. Efland moved to adjourn the meeting at 7:54 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Herz and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor