UTILITIES COMMISSION MEETING
MARCH 21, 2016
Mayor Cerino called the meeting to order at 7:30 p.m. In attendance were Council members Liz Gross, Linda Kuiper, Samuel T. Shoge and Mauritz Stetson, Bob Sipes, Utilities Director, Jennifer Mulligan, Town Clerk, and guests.
Mayor Cerino asked if there were any additions or corrections to the Utilities Commission meeting minutes of February 16, 2016. Mr. Stetson moved to approve the minutes as presented, was seconded by Ms. Gross and carried unanimously.
Mayor Cerino stated that operating funds on hand is $940,934.69 and an additional $495,400.00 was set aside in capital funds for a total of $1,436,334.69.
Mayor Cerino asked for a motion to pay the bills. Ms. Gross moved to pay the bills as submitted, was seconded by Mr. Stetson and carried unanimously.
Mr. Sipes stated that at High Street and Spring Street there was a leaking valve. The repair was to a lead joint valve and water had to be turned off from Cross Street to Mill Street and Spring Street to isolate the valve, cut the pipe and replace it. He said that he would give notice to those being affected by the shutoff and would try to limit the amount of time that the water was turned off.
Mr. Sipes stated that there are three (3) pumps at the Radcliffe Pumping Station. There was a clog in one and the suction valve failed. He said the valve had to be replaced, but in order to do so the pump station had to be bypassed and the wet well pumped out. The three (3) suction valves and discharge valves would then be replaced. Mr. Sipes stated that this was an expensive project and he considered it an emergency as there would be problems if a big storm hit or another pump failed before it was remedied.
Mr. Sipes stated that the each valve cost approximately $22,000.00 for a total of $66,000.00. The pump-around operation for a week cost $4,500.00 and the vacuum truck was $6,000.00. He said that the wet well was close to 30’ deep and had sand and solids in that well required specialized pumping.
Mr. Sipes stated that he would like to access capital funds in order to fund the repairs as this was considered a capital expense. Mr. Sipes stated that he expected the project to cost $100,000.00 by the time he was finished. Mr. Sipes stated that it was difficult to find people to do this specific type of work and characterized the work as emergency level.
Mr. Sipes stated that he can’t coordinate the work until materials were in place and on site. He said that the mechanical contractor thought it would take two (2) days to replace each pump and he said that he was trying to coordinate the work so that all three (3) suction valves were replaced on the same day.
Ms. Gross moved to approve an amount not to exceed $100,000.00 for emergency repairs at the Radcliffe Pump Station to be taken from capital funds, was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Mr. Sipes stated that the Hospital has finished all the planned injections and extractions and have suspended injection and extraction operations. He said that a report should be submitted to MDE and be evaluated for a decision as to how to proceed.
Mr. Sipes stated that House Bill 1307 and Senate Bill 1010 were introduced in the legislature regarding financial assurances should the shallow water wells become contaminated from the hospital oil spill. He said that the House Bill went smoothly although there was a question as to the constitutionality part of the Bill. He said that the attorney hired for the Town attended the Senate Hearing with him. The Senate Committee they appeared before created the Oil Disaster Relief Fund. There were many questions as to whether or not this was an appropriate use of the Relief Fund since the Fund was created for cases where the responsible party was unknown. He suggested amending the Bill to identify. Mr. Sipes stated that the American Petroleum Council testified against the Bill as it was funded by them through a tax to be used for a very specific reason and they said that this spill was not one of those reasons. Mr. Sipes stated that he disagreed with their finding.
Mr. Sipes stated that as far as he was aware, both the House and Senate Bills were still moving forward, adding that the Town could try again next year as the goal was long-term protection.
Mayor Cerino stated that regardless of what happened with the success or failure of the Bill, it was critically important to try as they had to show that everything possible was being done to insure the safety of the drinking water.
Mr. Sipes stated that Chestertown’s water was not contaminated and was one of the best drinking water in the State of Maryland. He said that all numbers indicate that there is nothing in the drinking water that anyone should have concern over.
There being no further business, Mr. Stetson moved to adjourn the meeting at 8:00 p.m., was seconded by Mr. Shoge and carried unanimously.
Submitted by: Approved by:
Jennifer Mulligan Chris Cerino
Town Clerk Mayor