The Board meets on the first and third Monday of each month. Meetings begin at 1:00 p.m. and are held in the department conference room at 65 Lafayette Ave, Littleton. Board meetings are open to the public and time is allotted for public comments at each meeting.
The regularly scheduled Board of Commissioners (BOC) meeting began at 1:00 p.m. on Monday, July 18, 2016 in the Littleton Water and Light (LWL) conference room. Present were Commissioner Eddy Moore, Commissioner Perry Goodell, Commissioner Ralph Ross, Financial Director Cheryl Wilkins and Superintendent Thomas Considine.
The minutes of the July 5, 2016 regularly scheduled Commissioners meeting were reviewed. Commissioner Ross made a motion to accept the minutes as presented, seconded by Commissioner Goodell.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
CUSTOMER & PUBLIC CONCERNS:
Commissioner Moore opened the public hearing in regard to discussion relative to raising the water rates and asked that Superintendent Considine present a brief rate overview prior to any general discussion.
Superintendent Considine presented the BOC a power point presentation and then reviewed each of the slides in detail. The rate increase is a direct result of an eight (8) percent declining water sales through May 2016 when compared to this period last year. That equates to a revenue deficit of about $15,000 when compared to the month end financial statement. Expenses through May 2016 are slightly below budget projections.
A 13.4% increase ($0.34 per 750 gallons used) is suggested to compensate for the loss of sales and to provide a margin above cost of about eight (8) percent. If everything remains the same a $50,000 profit is projected. The intent is to replace about 1,000 feet of water main every other year with these funds. Currently the O&M margin (about breakeven) will not support any significant capital replacement project as estimate replacement costs are about $100 per foot pipe.
The meter service fee (customer minimum charge) is also being increased by $1.00 per month with customers with 5/8” meters (about 20 PGM) with a proportional increase to larger volumetric meters recommended. In addition an increase to the annual hydrant lease fee of $10 is recommended (total annually lease fee of $ 80).
The LWL water rate charges historically have been ranked among the lowest in the state (NH average water rate of almost $5.00/ cCF). The average hydrant lease/ rental fee for the state of NH is about $540 per hydrant per year significantly higher than LWL $80 annual fee proposed.
Commissioner Moore asked how many hydrants are on the system.
Superintendent Considine stated that there are about 300 hydrants connected to the system, 250 are located in the public way (Town of Littleton) and the remainder is on private property. At the rate charged for hydrant maintenance the charge does not cover the annual maintenance cost though a significant portion of the water system is dedicated to fire suppression. Generally LWL is still subsidizing the fire suppression system of the Town of Littleton.
Mr. Rudy Gelsie, resident on the North Littleton Road stated that the rate increase appeared reasonable considering the budget deficit but was concerned that the decision to increase the water and electric rates was being driven by future expenses and pledged allocations to the River District Project.
Commissioner Goodell stated that the rate increase is being driven by the loss of sales and that the only money that LWL has pledged was for the completion of the west end of Main Street from the Diner to Bridge Street.
Mr. Gelsie stated that the River District Commission is freely stating that LWL is supporting the River District Project and has committed funds to support this initiative.
The BOC assured Mr. Gelsie that any money used with the exception of general maintenance in that area would have to come before this Commission for discussion and vote.
Superintendent Considine stated that there are several projects that are bundled together clouding the overall picture. The River District Commission bundled proposal was done to enhance the overall appeal of the project to a more diverse source of funding. LWL is committed to completing the West end of Main Street and will be involved on the other projects along the river as needed from a maintenance perspective.
Mr. Gelsie and the BOC continued with some additional back and forth discussion relative to the merits of the River District project funding and who are the real beneficiaries of the betterment. Mr. Gelsie then thanked the BOC for their time and excused himself from the BOC meeting.
Commissioner Moore closed the public portion of the rate hearing at 1:45 p.m. and asked for additional discussion relative to the recommendations made previous.
Following some discussion Commissioner Goodell made a motion to increase the water rates, hydrant fee and customer charges as recommended with an implementation date of August 1, 2016, seconded by Commissioner Ross.
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
FINANCIAL DIRECTORS REPORT:
Mrs. Wilkins reviewed the financial statements for the month ended May 2016 with the Commissioners. Several discrepancies as compared to budget were discussed and explained by Mrs. Wilkins.
SUPERINTENDENT/ GENERAL MANAGERS REPORT:
1. LWL is in the process of collecting twenty (20) water samples in accordance with the Safe Water Drinking Acts Lead and Copper rule. As a results of recent lead contamination issues in cities around the country there is a heighten sense of public awareness and regulatory anxiety. The samples represent LWL’s 10th round (over 25 years) monitoring for lead and copper, the samples collected will at the lab for analysis this week.
2. As a direct result of public concern over lead contamination especially in regard to children’s health, and overall drinking water quality, LWL has proposed to sample the water at the Littleton Schools. A brief meeting was held with the SAU Superintendent of Schools to layout the proposed plan. During the first or third week of August (scheduling) LWL water operators will collect two (2) water samples from the High School, Lakeway Elementary and the old Middle School. The samples will be delivered to the lab and analyzed for lead. These same schools were monitored in 2004 for lead and were in compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule at that time.
3. A significant (>100 GPM) water leak was found and repaired on Union Street near the intersection of Chiswick Avenue last week. Though the leak was known to the department the exact location was not readily determined as the leak did not come to the surface. Working with the sanitary camera crew that found infiltration in the area LWL was able to pin point the leak using acoustic sound detection within the infiltration section.
A section of the joint backing material was found (3/4” x3/4” at top dead center) missing. The pipe in this area is under about 100 psi and any leaking water should have surfaced. This was prevented by a large boulder that was directly above the joint. Due to the presents of larges rocks and other cobbles in the area which provided and alternative underground path and into the sanitary system (most likely). The repair had a noticeable effect on the daily water flows throughout the system.
4. National Grid advised LWL that they will be working on interconnection between the new line (ACSR 477) and the substation. The newly re-routed line is expected to be in service by the end of December 2016. The new route should improve reliability though it appears that a small section of the old overhead copper line adjacent to 1515 (LWL tie point) is going remained.
LWL will monitor and track National Grid progress as this older section still presents a potential weak section and a point of concern.
5. LWL is still awaiting a legal opinion with regard to wheeling power through its territory to the grid. A solar developer proposes to repurpose the old landfill with solar panels. Though LWL feels that the sale price of the solar energy produced is too expensive, (well over market price) and not economical the developer proposed to wheel their output to the grid. Providing grid access to the developer would open the renewable energy credits (REC) market which is typically significant more profitable than sell energy. As LWL is a municipal utility, not jurisdictionally governed by the PUC, wheeling power through our territory may affect this status under PUC rules.
6. The NHDES informed LWL that there appears to be an increase in cyber security issues involving water systems. Several water systems in NE have had their networks hacked and warehouse security system disabled. LWL has recently enhanced network security of this fire wall in accordance with credit card security compliance certification procedures.
GENERAL/ OTHER BUSINESS:
Commissioner Ross asked if any further investigation has taken place with regard to the concrete debris found in the Mt. Eustis water tank.
Superintendent Considine stated that as the inspection was only partially completed he has asked that a complete underwater inspection be completed to access the full extent of any damage found. The inspection company has not responded to date as how they plan to resolve the issues.
Commissioner Goodell made a motion to adjourn the meeting, seconded by
The vote was in favor of the motion 3-0-0.
Meeting adjourned at 2:15 p.m.
The regularly scheduled Commissioner’s meeting is held twice monthly on the first and third Monday, at 1:00 p.m., in the Department’s conference room.