Plant Upgrade May Qualify for Funding

Jon Gregory of engineering firm Tata & Howard is helping the Mattapoisett River Valley Water District Commission get its ducks in a row for the meaty next steps of the long-planned upgrade of the water-treatment plant.

            In his report to the commissioners on Tuesday afternoon, Gregory said that Tata & Howard has completed its final preliminary design report, and he has forwarded copies of that report to member towns Fairhaven, Mattapoisett, Marion and Rochester.

            Because of a particular technology involved in the upgrade to Koch Company’s Puron filtering system, Gregory is somewhat hopeful that the MRV will, unlike last year, qualify for SRF funding (the Clean Water State Revolving Fund that through a federal-state partnership lends money to municipalities at low interest for water-related projects.)

            “We hope the (Department of Environmental Protection) sees it that way,” said Gregory, who announced a due date of Friday, August 12, at 12:00 pm for the report. “Fingers crossed we can get that funding this time.”

            The MRV Water District has $7,200,000 in place via town-meeting appropriations and the debt-authorization vote taken by the district prior to those town meetings.

            With an eye on full-scale design, the Tata & Howard team recently met with Plant Manager Henri Renauld to conduct a full review on the plant and take measurements. Gregory said Tata & Howard has been in contact with the key vendors, including Koch Systems and Advantium (disinfection.)

            Gregory will provide an update at the MRV’s September meeting.

            In his Treatment Plant update, Renauld said, “We’re producing a lot of water,” estimating a consistent treatment of close to 4,000,000 gallons of water per day. Renauld noted the possibility of restricting service. Internally, he said the plant has been having problems with its humidifiers, having spent over $14,000. “The plant is a puddle as we speak right now,” he said, noting that three of the four compressors in the plant are not working.

            Other challenges have been related to delivery and price increases. A locksmith, he said, was brought in for repair of one of the doors.

            Renauld referenced a letter from Matheson Gas forecasting a 20 percent increase in cost that he considers “par for the course with the other chemicals we’ve seen.” Delivery will also cost more, Renauld indicated.

            In his Treasurer’s Report to the Water District, Renauld said this month, the MRV owes Tata & Howard $23,625. Gregory explained that it is the first invoice for the full-scale design of the filter-program upgrade at the water treatment plant. Renauld said the MRV owes $15,173 for citric acid and also for electrochemically activated (ECA) water, plus $3,600 for the annual Town of Mattapoisett bill for the dam. He said the MRV will be spending more on chlorine. The total for August is $86,928.83.

            The MRV Water District Commission voted to accept Renauld’s report.

            Vinnie Furtado explained to meeting attendee Lori Bardwell that the commission spends substantially more money than the Water Protection Advisory Committee, which focuses on getting the water to the customers, while the MRV Water District Commission focuses on the treatment plant proper.

            At the bequest of the commission, Bardwell, a candidate recommended by Marion Finance Director Judy Mooney for the MRV’s contracted position of outside bookkeeper, agreed to stick around for the MRV Water District meeting after the position was thoroughly discussed during the MRV Water Protection Advisory Committee meeting that immediately preceded.

            While the majority was ready to act on Bardwell’s availability and vote to contract her bookkeeping services, Water District Treasurer Wendy Graves introduced Ann Carreiro, who was not present, to the discussion.

            A lengthy discussion ensued regarding the eligibility of Carreiro because she was last known to be currently working as the auditor for the Town of Fairhaven. “There would be a conflict,” said Rochester Town Counsel Blair Bailey, explaining that “the intent not to supplant. … this is a position we’ve never had.”

            Although a vast majority of members agreed that the idea of hiring a professional outside bookkeeper is to take work off the hands of volunteers Graves and Jeff Furtado, it was not assumed that Carreiro is not interested in the job so both the committee and commission agreed to table the matter until the MRV’s September meeting.

            A class-action lawsuit is being brought against the state by “many communities” over its water-sampling requirements. Fairhaven and Marion representatives confirmed no interest in participating in the suit. Bailey said participation would require damages, of which there is none. Besides, the MRV is admittedly preoccupied with bettering its relationship with the state amidst the major filtering-systems upgrade at the water treatment plant.

            In addition to voting to accept Jeff Furtado’s treasurer’s report, the committee also voted to appropriate $1,500 (50 percent of the $3,000 total as a down payment) to Deb Nettles to “resurrect the MRV website” that crashed last year.

            The next meeting of the MRV Water Supply Protection Advisory Committee is scheduled for Tuesday, September 13, at 3:30 pm with the MRV Water District Commission meeting to immediately follow at 4:00 pm on the same Zoom call.

MRV Water District Commission/Water Supply Protection Advisory Committee

By Mick Colageo

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