MEETING MINUTES OF THE
PLUM CREEK MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY
A regular meeting of the Board of the Plum Creek Municipal Authority was held on June 21, 2016 at the Plum Creek Municipal Authority Business Office Building, South Manheim Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
Board members present at the meeting were Jim Ridderhoff, Tom Nagle, Dennis Scharadin, Matt Gruber, and Jerry Weiss. Also in attendance were Dave Bright (PCMA Engineer), Joe Zerbe (PCMA Attorney), Jeff Crawford (PCMA Operations Manager, Select Environmental), and property owners David Mengel, Bonnie & David Tyson, Joe Haggerty, Richard Hardy, Wayne Carney, Robert Riegel, and Jim Corkins.
Jim Ridderhoff called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
The minutes of the prior meeting held in May, 2016 were reviewed and accepted by motion of Jerry Weiss, seconded by Dennis Scharadin, and carried by all. The minutes for the Special Meeting held on June 6, 2016 were reviewed and accepted by motion of Dennis Scharadin, seconded by Matt Gruber, carried by all.
The Treasurer's report for May, 2016 was reviewed and accepted by motion of Dennis Scharadin, seconded by Matt Gruber, carried by all.
Jim welcomed the visitors who attended the meeting and opened the floor to them. Richard Hardy said he attended the meeting on behalf of the Property Association Board, and said he wanted to continue the discussion about pressure testing the water line running parallel to the dam; the issue had been brought up in the fall of 2014. He said he would like some kind of authentic, documented pressure test. Tom said he recalled the conversation in 2014, and looked up the history of what took place back then regarding the testing. The testing had been set up to be performed the day after the PCMA Board meeting that was held on November 18th, 2014 and the LWPOA was to contact Mike Stewart (former PCMA employee) in the morning to make sure the LWPOA wanted to go ahead with the test; Richard Hardy wanted their engineer to be present and he wasn’t sure what time he’d be available to do the test. Tom said that Mike Stewart was contacted the following morning to let the PCMA know that the LWPOA’s engineer could not make it that day and they would call to make other arrangements when the engineer would be available. Tom said nobody from the LWPOA ever contacted the Authority after that to set up a test.
Tom further explained what was going to be done at that time. He said we weren’t going to pressurize the line because it was under enough pressure as it is at well over 100 psi. He said there’s a valve at both ends of the dam breast, and there is a frost-free spigot that is situated inside the piping between the two valves. Tom said a pressure gauge can be put on the frost-free spigot, and then the two ends of the line could be shut off. A reading would be taken at the gauge on the spigot as soon as the line was closed and, after waiting about an hour or so, the gauge can be read again to see if there was any change. If there was no change, or no significant change, it would indicate that there was no leak in the line. However, if the pressure did drop significantly after an hour, it still wouldn’t mean there was a leak in the water line because there’s a connecting pipe on that line that runs down the hill and connects to various piping at the PCMA’s sewage plant, truck garage, office building, and other valves and pipes. Tom said a drop in pressure could indicate a leak, but the leak could be anywhere, including anywhere in any of the piping that is connected to the line. He said a drop in pressure wouldn’t be a perfect indication that there was a leak in the water line running across the dam because of all the connected piping, but no drop in pressure would indicate there was no leak anywhere on the water line running across the dam or in any of the piping connected to that line.
Richard Hardy said a certain amount of pressure should be increased over the line pressure that already exists because it would determine whether or not the line was leaking. Tom said that adding more pressure would have no outcome on the test but if more pressure was added there would be a risk of blowing the line out. He added that you’ll only ever see so much pressure because it’s a gravity-pressurized system and is dependent on how high the water storage tank is. The pressure you’ll see when the storage tank is full is all the pressure it will ever be, and he said that’s when the test should be done – when the storage tanks are full. Tom also noted that a leak anywhere on the piping didn’t mean a water line itself was leaking because the valves themselves could leak and there’s no way to determine that except by taking the valves out of the equation.
A question was asked if any other testing was done with some regularity that would indicate a leak. Tom said the PCMA has professional leak detection done on a regular basis to look for leaks. He said a full leak detection survey is done at least once a year, and also any time there’s a drop in water volume in the storage tanks that cannot be explained or could indicate a leak or leaks somewhere in the system. When that happens, the leak detector people are called in right away.
A question was asked as to whether there was a down side to shutting down the water line for pressure testing. Dave Bright said reliability of water service to some residents would be a factor along with dirty water that would be created when the line was opened again. Dave said the lines are interconnected everywhere, on both sides of the lake, but the pipe running across the dam is the only water line connecting both sides of the development. The main concern from the LWPOA is that the integrity of the water line is tested to make sure there will be no problems when the spillway and the dam itself is renovated if it’s needed in the future. Tom said the best way to see if the line or surrounding connections are leaking is to shut all the valves off that service the line to isolate it and then watch the pressure to see if it drops after a certain length of time. He said that would be the first step. If there’s no drop in pressure, then nothing else would need to be done. If there was a drop in pressure, the next step would be to try to determine where a leak might be, in the line itself or in one of the many lines that supply the sewage plant and other buildings. Richard Hardy said that test would be fine and said he would have the LWPOA’s engineer contact Jeff Crawford, PCMA Operations Manager, to work out a time to do the test. Mr. Hardy asked when the best time to do it might be and Tom said the wells need to be addressed right away to improve production to make sure enough water is available to supply the community, especially if the line test produces problems with dirty water that will require flushing to clear it up. Mr. Hardy asked the Board if the test could be set up to be performed on a yearly basis, and the Board agreed that could be done.
Wayne Carney asked why the water rates were so much higher than the average all over Pennsylvania. He said Pottsville’s rate was lower than Plum Creek’s. Tom said when you’re working with averages, a lot of factors come in to play including different types of water systems and various types of water supplies (well water, ground water, etc.) that require different forms of treatment and distribution. Also, the customer base is different for each water supplier; the larger the customer base the more the cost of supplying the water can be spread out. Jim said a lot of the cost of supplying the water is due to repairs on a system that has naturally high water pressure which is harder on lines and piping than in areas with lower pressure. Dave Bright said another thing to keep in mind is that the average length of pipe in the PCMA’s water system per customer is probably higher than a typical municipal distribution system which results in a higher cost per customer. He also said that most other water authorities have a good number of commercial customers that bear a greater burden of the cost to operate the system than those municipalities with no commercial customers.
Mr. Carney also asked why part-time residents have to pay as much as full-time residents. He said in larger municipalities the rates are lower for part-timers. He asked why Plum Creek doesn’t provide a lower rate as well. Tom said if part-time customers don’t pay the same as full-time residents, then the rates not paid by part-time people would have to be made up by charging the full-time people even more. He said the way the rate structure is currently set up, everybody pays the same base rate in order to spread the cost of operations evenly among all the customers. Tom said most of the full-time residents do pay more already in that many exceed the base-rate allowance and pay for extra water used. He said if you lower the price of water for the people who leave for the winter, then you’re losing revenue that has to be made up by the people who remain in the community year-round. Either way you look at it, any deficit has to be made up somewhere and, in the scenario Mr. Carney was suggesting, the full-time people would have to bear the burden of the deficit created by lowering the base-rate fee for part-time people. Jim Ridderhoff said if Mr. Carney had any suggestions as to how to lower the rates for part-time people without putting a burden on the full-time people he should email them to the business office.
David Mengel asked about the sequestering the iron and manganese in the drinking water to provide better quality. He said he used to see a system flushing schedule that was performed on a regular basis in the past, and he noticed that it hadn’t been done recently. Regular flushing helps to remove excess iron and manganese that settles in the water lines. He said his house filter has to be changed much more frequently than in the past. He said the sequestering agent being used doesn’t seem to be working. Jim said that flushing on a community-wide basis has not been performed because the water storage tanks were low and the wells weren’t pumping efficiently enough to provide enough water to fill the storage tanks and perform flushing at the same time. Jim added that the wells were scheduled to be worked on in order to increase the capacity of each. Jeff said that the water tanks were very low and well rehabilitation was scheduled to start in two days. Jim said the water problems were being addressed, and Tom added that the PCMA was also looking at another product that, hopefully, will be more effective at sequestering the iron and manganese in the water.
The question was asked about why the water reservoirs were so low. Jeff said it was due to a combination of things. There were a large number of water system leaks, some of which were in the PCMA’s lines, but a large number were on customers’ supply lines which the property owner was responsible for repairing. Combined with inadequate pumping of the water in the wells themselves, the situation produced low storage tank levels. The question of available funding for replacing antiquated water systems was introduced, and Dave Bright said funding is not easily obtained due to the nature of the community. He said grant funding is very difficult to get and the best source of funding, if available at all, would be a low-interest loan from the government but a loan directly from the bank could most likely be secured at the same or only slightly higher rates. Also, funding for private community, as opposed to a municipality, was not as readily obtainable because one of the criteria for funding is the number of jobs that might be affected. In answer to another question that was asked, Lake Wynonah is the only community that Plum Creek Municipal Authority supplies water and sewage services to.
Jeff gave the manager’s report. In water operations he reported: * Normal operations continue. No violations were reported for the month of May. * Meter reads are set to begin on June 20th to be completed by June 29th. * Five leaks were repaired and one hydrant was replaced. Three leaks were on the customer’s lines and two were in PCMA lines. Dave Bonkovich completed his leak detection survey and Dan Smaglinski followed up in the areas surrounding the leak locations after repairs were made. * The Booster Station is at 5.3 psi, down from 6.8 psi. * Kohl Bros. is scheduled to be on site to start work on Well #8 on Thursday, June 23rd. Kohl Bros. will be trying for a one-day turnaround for Well #8. * Daily phosphate testing is being performed at each well. Most readings are at or below 6 ppm.
In sewage operations, Jeff reported that: * Normal operations continue. * There was a safety recall for the large pickup truck involving the drive shaft u-joint. The recall repair will be scheduled in August to be performed during routine inspection. * A new flow chart was installed at the sewage treatment plant. It is working well so far. * Axiom, Inc. submitted a quote in the amount of $5,700 for blower repairs and screen drive work at the sewage treatment plant. * A quote for a composite sampler for the sewage treatment plant was received from W. G. Malden in the amount of $2,621.90. An ice purchase or a small refrigerator will be needed to hold the samples.
Jeff added that Well #3 started dropping in production about two weeks ago. He said the well wasn’t able to be easily evaluated because there’s no way to access it, and it’s critical that Kohl Bros. get to that one after Well #8 has been rehabilitated.
Jeff and Dan Smaglinski had some concerns that there may be some leaks around the community pool so he checked the area surrounding the pool and the piping that goes out from the pool. Jeff said he spoke with Skip from the LWPOA office to find out how much water was needed to fill the pool and Skip told him it took roughly 300,000 gallons of water to fill it. Dan spoke with LWPOA Maintenance and was told the pool was topped off a few nights the prior week and Maintenance estimated they used about 3,000 gallons each time. However, in looking back over the meter readings, Jeff saw that over 600,000 gallons were used for the pool at the same time the year before and he said that’s enough to fill the pool three times. Because of the high usage, Jeff had Dan check around the pool area to see if there were any leaks because if the same amount of water was used again this time it would drain the storage tanks. The Board agreed that pool usage should be watched and, if water use increases significantly again, a more thorough investigation for possible leaks in that area might have to be initiated.
The Board told Jen to send out an alert to let the community know that the PCMA will be doing work and rehabilitation on the wells, and also to ask that people conserve as much as possible to give the storage tanks time to replenish. A boil alert is not needed for the well maintenance, and Jen said she would let the people know that the community will not be under a boil alert while the wells are being worked on.
Jeff referred to the quote he received a quote from Axiom, Inc. right before the meeting to replace the faulty blowers and to repair the screen drive motor and shaft problems. The quote from Axiom, Inc. was $5,700 to perform the repair work. Upon motion by Jerry Weiss, seconded by Matt Gruber, and carried by all, the quote from Axiom, Inc. for $5,700 was approved and accepted, with the work to begin as arranged by Jeff.
Jeff also referenced the quote he received from W. G. Malden for a GLS Sampler with 2.5 polypropylene bottle, along with associated parts for collecting and storing composite samples for monitoring purposes at the sewage treatment plant. The quote for the equipment and associated parts was $2,621.90. Jeff said a purchase of ice will be required on sampling dates to keep the samples cold, or a small refrigerator could be used to house the samples. Upon motion by Tom Nagle, seconded by Dennis Scharadin, and carried by all, the quote from W. G. Malden for $2,621.90 was approved and accepted, with the purchase and installation to begin as arranged by Jeff.
Jeff told the Board about a customer who questioned a leak that was detected on the water line of his property. Jeff said that Dan Smaglinski went out to the customer’s property to recheck the leak to determine if it was on the customer’s water line for certain, and it was. The customer was there, and Dan was able to show the customer that the leak was on his water line, and the customer was satisfied that it was. Because the customer did not repair the leak in the time frame given, his water was terminated, but a neighbor allowed him to use his water until he repaired the leak as long as it’s repaired within a reasonable amount of time. Joe Zerbe said he got a call from the customer’s attorney who was trying to find a solution for his client who could not afford to repair the line. Joe told the attorney that he would talk to the Board but he said he didn’t feel the PCMA should get involved with fixing customers’ water line leaks. The water service cannot be restored until the leak is repaired because leaks, no matter where they are, are an unacceptable drain on the water supply. The Board agreed that they cannot start repairing broken water lines for customers, and Joe said he would contact the customer’s attorney to let him know that the customer is responsible for the repair.
In other legal matters, Joe Zerbe composed a resolution that addressed the authorization of reimbursement of attorney fees and other collection costs dealing with filing liens and collections of delinquent water and sewage accounts, referenced as Resolution 2016 – No.1. He introduced the resolution at the prior meeting and submitted it for review by the Board and office staff at that time. Upon motion by Jerry Weiss, seconded by Dennis Scharadin, and carried by all, the Board approved and adopted Resolution 2016 – No. 1 – A resolution of the Plum Creek Municipal Authority Adopting Collection Procedures and Authorizing Reasonable Attorney’s fees in the Collection of Delinquent Water and Sewage Accounts. All Board members signed the resolution after the motion.
In engineering matters, Dave Bright said the application to the DRBC for renewing the groundwater withdrawal allocation is being reviewed. The Klenzoid product specifications for sequestering iron and manganese has been determined and now it’s a matter of monitoring the usage to see how it works. When the current product being used runs out, the new Klenzoid product will be used in its place.
Dave said one of SSM’s hydrogeologists, Scott Mundell, went out to each of the well sites to try to determine if something at the source had anything to do with the recent drop in water in the PCMA’s storage tanks. The water levels in the storage tanks are much lower than they should be. After Scott gathered significant information, he and Dave Bright started evaluating the data and they were alarmed at the reduced pumping rate, particularly at Well #8. But checking the water levels in the well, it seemed that there was water there; it just wasn’t being pumped out of the well. They came to the conclusion that the problem was primarily with the well pump. After checking with the Board, a decision was made to replace the well pump. Kohl Bros. was called and they ordered another pump, but some of the materials didn’t arrive in time to start the pump replacement on June 22nd as scheduled. Rather than have the well down for two days, a decision was made to keep it online and pumping as much as possible to help keep the storage tanks from dropping even more, and the repairs were rescheduled to start a day later to be able to get everything done in one day. Dave said the pumping rate that’s expected in Well #8 should be around 90 gallons per minute and it’s currently at 35, a much reduced rate that indicates a problem with the pump.
Dave said he will continue looking at the situations with all the wells to see what might be happening with them, especially at Wells #3 and #6, as the pump had just recently been replaced in Well #1. He also recommended monitoring the levels in all the wells occasionally to retain data going forward that can be examined periodically to see if the water levels fluctuate.
Hlavaty Plumbing and Heating submitted an estimate to convert the oil burners at the sewage treatment plant and the truck garage over to LP gas. Because their preliminary estimate was too close to the bidding threshold that requires three written phone quotations, the Board decided to check with other contractors to secure additional quotes. Although repairs are required with the current system, an emergency does not exist and there was time to secure additional estimates. Matt suggested getting a large circulating fan for the truck garage because of fume buildup.
Jim noted that the Audit Report for 2015 had been completed and submitted by the auditing firm of Jones & Co.
Only one bid was received from advertising for a used pump truck to replace the old white Mack. The white Mack won’t pass inspection anymore without considerable structural repairs that would not be cost effective. The bid was from Best Used Trucks in Frystown at $69,900 for a 2011 Western Star Vacuum Tanker Truck. Upon motion by Dennis Scharadin, seconded by Matt Gruber, and carried by all, the Board voted to purchase the pumper truck that was submitted as indicated in the bid from Best Used Trucks for $69,900. Matt said he would call Best Used Trucks to tell them the bid was accepted.
There being no further business, Jim Ridderhoff motioned for adjournment, Matt Gruber seconded the motion, carried by all. The meeting was adjourned by Jim Ridderhoff at 8:05 pm.
Meeting minutes were taken, prepared, and submitted by Jennifer Hoy.