MEETING MINUTES OF THE
PLUM CREEK MUNICIPAL AUTHORITY
A regular meeting of the Board of The Plum Creek Municipal Authority was held on June 18, 2019, at the Plum Creek Municipal Authority Business Office Building, South Manheim Township, Schuylkill County, Pennsylvania.
Board members present at the meeting were Jim Ridderhoff, Jerry Weiss, Matt Gruber and Corby Lewis. Also, in attendance were Jamie Lorah (SSM Engineering), Joe Zerbe (PCMA Attorney), Pat Caulfield (Executive Director of the SCMA), Ronald Larson, Paul Purcell, Richard Hardy, Joe Haggerty, Jim Corkins, and Attorney Paul Bruder.
Jim Ridderhoff called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.
The minutes for the May 2019 meeting were accepted by motion of Jerry Weiss, seconded by Matt Gruber, carried by all.
The Treasurer's report for May 2019 was reviewed and accepted by motion of Jerry Weiss, seconded by Matt Gruber, carried by all.
Jim Ridderhoff welcomed the visitors. Joe Zerbe said Attorney Paul Bruder is here on behalf of the Property Owners’ Association and would like to address the PCMA Board. Joe said he told Attorney Bruder that he thought the Board would let him speak. Jim Ridderhoff said now would be a great time.
Attorney Paul Bruder introduced himself and said he is the legal counsel for the Property Owners’ Association (POA). Attorney Bruder said the POA has retained his services as well as the services of an Engineering Consultant based on the Spotts, Stevens and McCoy (SSM) alternative analysis where in there was a listing of various alternatives with respect to how the Authority may be managing the sewage going forward.
Attorney Bruder said the alternative that was approved, by the PCMA Board, is not one that is acceptable to the Property Owners’ Association where the plant would be shut down and the trucks would be decommissioned and the responsibility for the sewage management would be left to the individual property owners. Attorney Bruder said that is not a solution that the Property Owners’ Association is comfortable with at all.
Attorney Bruder said the POA had written a letter to the PCMA Board in February 2018 which raised the issues and asked for a lot of information and a couple of follow up letters were sent. The POA wrote to the local politicians and the townships asking many of the same questions and don’t feel that they got answers to those questions. The POA brought Attorney Bruder on board to see if he could shake some information loose and if necessary, do whatever they had to do to get to a solution that everybody can live with. Attorney Bruder said they (himself, property owners and the consultant) met with DEP a couple of weeks ago and raised some of these issues. Attorney Bruder feels DEP asked as many questions as they answered. The POA will be commenting, at every opportunity, on the proposed plans and will be engaging with the consultant to look at that. Attorney Bruder said nobody wants this to go to a legal challenge of the plan approvals. Attorney Bruder thinks that what they can accomplish is a negotiated resolution that makes everybody happy to some extent. Attorney Bruder thinks there is a solution in the middle.
Attorney Bruder said there are a couple of the alternatives, that were put forth by SSM, that probably are workable. He understands that there are financial realities everybody is going to have to face. The plant needs some upgrades, there may be issues with trucks, there is issues with if the plant closes - where is the waste going to go - but it is not impossible that we can figure something out. Attorney Bruder said he is here to let the Board know that we are going to be engaged in the process as it goes forward.
Attorney Bruder said he does have a request signed, by Mr. Jim Corkins, POA President, (Attorney Bruder handed request to Joe Zerbe, PCMA Attorney) that the POA be allowed access to the plant, with their consultant, to go in and take a look around and do our own analysis of the repairs that might be needed and a financial analysis of what that might take. He said in the POA’s mind repairing the plant isn’t something that is completely ruled out yet and the POA wants to do an independent analysis of that. Attorney Bruder said he hopes that is a request the Board will consider.
Joe Zerbe asked Attorney Bruder if there is any proposal? Attorney Bruder said we would like to be engaged in the planning process. Attorney Bruder said he doesn’t know the status of the plan -is the plan ready to be submitted anytime soon - once we had an opportunity to comment we will have to look at the plan revision and our consultant and myself will look at it and comment. A financial analysis can be different from one point of view to another, plant upgrades can be different from one point of view to another, right now we have very little information, so it is hard for us to give you any kind of solid answer. Joe Zerbe asked Attorney Bruder if he had a copy of the SSM report? Attorney Bruder said yes, he has the summary report. Joe Zerbe asked Jamie Lorah (SSM) what other information would we have?
Jamie Lorah (SSM) said we have submitted the Task Activity Report to DEP. Jamie said the Task Activity Report tells DEP what tasks will be completed by the Authority and their consultants and DEP, to that extent, has approved that process. The Act 537 Plan has not been submitted. Attorney Bruder said a needs survey must be done and other things need to be done before planning can be submitted and that is the kind of information that, hopefully, we will get a look at and be able to comment on and see what it says. Jamie said that submission has not been made because SSM needs to meet with the PCMA Board and review what SSM has completed. Before anything is submitted to DEP, it must be reviewed with the PCMA Board, revisions made and then we will meet with the Townships and discuss what is in the plan and at that point submission would probably be made. So, something like that would be about two months out.
Pat Caulfied, Executive Director of Schuylkill County Municipal Authority (SCMA), said he wanted to show up and hear what the most recent update is and to provide an update on where SCMA is at in the process. Pat said SCMA is here to provide a piece of the puzzle which is a disposal site for the septic and the holding tank waste. Pat said in 2014, we opened our new largest adventure, from the wastewater side, which was a $21 million-dollar investment, which was our Deer Lake wastewater treatment plant. It was built and was oversized, and the budget was already exceeded at the time or we would have put in a septage receiving station at time of construction, but we were really stretching it at the time. Pat said SCMA was actively involved with West Brunswick Township, as well as the Deer Lake Borough, and the Borough of Auburn which has their own collection conveying system (via pump station) which pumps to Deer Lake. Pat said SCMA provided the public sewage alternative for those three townships. However, there is a majority of West Brunswick Township that is on-lot sewage.
Pat Caulfied (SCMA) said early on they had their discussion with PCMA and one of the things we did was a walk-through the plant and we did a lot of research. I will say I have never seen anything more unique in the way this system is set up and to have a plant without a pipe connected to it is the first he has ever seen. A ratio of 900 to 150 septage vs holding tanks that is a hard way to treat especially at the low flow you are trickling it through the plant. Pat said never in his life did he see an indoor plant, which he will call a spade a spade, that is 100 million percent illegal.
Pat Caulfied said you need to explosion proof everything in there. That plant has 480-volt panels with doors rusted off, 10 feet away from open tanks and methane, that is a disaster waiting to happen. Pat said that is his opinion only. Pat said that being the case, if it were us and it was our responsibility, we would absolutely look at decommissioning that plant and taking advantage of the investment we made six miles down the road. So, we proposed that and said we weren’t at all interested in taking over the Authority. We couldn’t even come up with a proposal because we don’t have that situation, we don’t have hauling trucks, we would have to hire staff, so we are not really interested in that, but we are interested in being the final destination alternative. Pat said we talked about the water side and we are still in discussion and are still very interested in that moving forward. Pat said Jamie Lorah (SSM) had reached out to him when doing the sewage alternatives analysis and was trying to put together numbers and SCMA wasn’t even a position to give a number per gallon or anything like that.
Pat Caulfield said where is SCMA at today - we are under design. Our engineers System Design Engineering (SDE), who was the Deer Lake engineer, before we took it over and we are currently under design with modifications to the plant - to be able to use some of the old tankage that we salvaged, install a septage receiving station that is going to include a screening device that is able to take out heavy grit materials, being able to process that independently - that filtrate or effluent through that unit would go to a existing manhole that then would be pumped back to the head of our plant – where it would be able to be diluted – is a much easier way to treat on our end. There are some other controls that we are working through now - an ability to have haulers come in when we are not on site – a credit card swipe – an automatic gate opening – a volume meter that is going to calculate how many gallons – an automatic sampler that is going to take samples out of each truck load – that is where we are at in our design part. All total you are still looking at a couple hundred thousand dollars’ worth of investment to do that. Pat said we are committed to do it and are here to help. Pat said for a while we iced the design because there was so much unknown. But then PCMA had taken the approach and went right to DEP, which was the correct thing to do, and at least got a skeletal approach in what the next steps have to be to be able to put this through. It doesn’t happen overnight it is a slow process. Pat said SCMA’s offer hasn’t changed although there is no detailed finality to it right now there will be in the future.
Jim Corkins (POA) asked Pat Caulfied if he could make an assumption from what you are stating that this plant is going to take more than just a couple of maintenance things to keep running and that Deer Lake is going to be able to receive septage from the trucks….are we directing our energies in the wrong direction by looking at this plant to see what it would take to maintain it or to rebuild it ?
Pat Caulfield said he would answer Jim Corkins and qualify his answer. Pat said the way the regulations are going now - 1) the plant would never in a million years be able to be built like it is today. So even though you are getting your inspections by DEP – his opinion is they are probably trying to limp along and allow you to operate because they know there’s got to be a bigger better solution down the road.
Pat Caulfield said from an OSHA standpoint, from an inspection, from an electrical, from a safety standpoint – you are literally putting your people at risk in there. Pat said he doesn’t mean to start trouble or anything like that but that is an unsafe condition the way the plant is right now. 2) The way that plant is built, the regulations are getting extremely tougher. This is in the Delaware River Basin and already in one river basin over, which Schuylkill County is split, SCMA has the pleasure of operating in both. The Susquehanna Basin is already eons ahead in what is called the Chesapeake Bay Strategy. That is, it has more stringent limits on nitrogen and phosphorus which are generated mostly from the agriculture industry. Pat Caulfied said of course, they pick on the Municipal Authority’s first that way we have only eleven percent of the load to the bay. It is in place already and it is coming down the road for the Delaware as well. Pat said PCMA is probably in the monitoring only area. Pat asked if PCMA monitors ammonia and nitrate? Mike Kreiser (SES) said we do not have any ammonia, nitrate, or phosphorus. Pat said he expects in the five-year NPDES upgrade you are probably going to see that - at least a monitor only.
Pat Caulfied said the other thing is chlorine. They are pounding on us to get rid of the chlorine. They want you to go to ultra-violet disinfection. They most recently instituted what is called the TRC – total residue chlorine rule. They are almost making the limit so low that you can’t effectively get to kill that you need, especially if you have a plant that has a little burps coming through every once in a while, and then you have to rely on that chlorine to get under permit at the end of the line. They are going to force you to do it one way or another. In our Deer Lake plant, it wasn’t even an option, they wouldn’t even allow us to put chlorine in. They made us put in an ultra-violet disinfection.
Pat Caulfied said not only are the regulations tough they are only going to get tougher and I am not sure this plant is capable. You would have to build a new plant here and this is a tight spot – I don’t know where you would put it. Joe Haggerty asked Pat – that for the $800,000 you don’t believe that is going to address the real problems (at the plant) and you have no confidence in that number? Pat said he didn’t not look at any of the details on the breakdown on how the $800,000 came up. I would be hard pressed to say. Pat said the plant they built in Deer Lake was a million gallons, but the plant alone at Deer Lake, was seven-million dollars. Jim Corkins (POA) said it is encouraging, to our side, to hear that Deer Lake is a viable option down the road, with some more upgrades required, and that may give us a little bit of a different thought pattern.
Joe Haggerty said to Pat Caulfield - he thinks if there is an ongoing relation between this community, the Authority and the processing plant at Deer Lake - he is assuming in the analysis, up to this point, you use spot rates. Joe Haggerty said we are not talking spot rates here, as county residents, we are going to work through that and come up with something that works – right? Pat said they are going to have to recoup their costs for their investments and said he cannot give a straight answer on dollars or cents per gallon or anything like that.
Jim Ridderhoff thanked Pat Caulfield for his analysis and his opinions. The PCMA Board really appreciates it. Jim asked Pat if he had any idea of a timetable of when the Deer Lake plant would be able to accept septage? Pat said he doesn’t at this point but after tonight’s meeting he will be making a phone call first thing in the morning to put this thing in a higher gear.
Jamie Lorah (SSM) said the $800,000 figure that was referenced was part of the alternatives analysis and that was a high-level review. It was not a detailed analysis on what that plant needs and that would be bare minimum to what it would actually need without doing a full conceptional evaluation of the plant to come up with a firmer number. That got certain components repaired and upgraded but it didn’t do the whole plant. Jamie said it did include some electrical repair, some ventilation upgrades, roof repair and some structural stuff that really needed to be addressed.
Ron Larson asked who is going to monitor the septic tanks for 3-year pumps? Jim Ridderhoff said that is under the Sewage Management Program and that is still administered, right now, by us. Jim said that would be delegated or have another entity do that function. It could be each township, it could be an employee, or somebody just to run the program. Nancy said it involves sending letters to property owners when the 3-year inspection is due. Mike Kreiser (SES) said a lot of townships do that. Jim said the township (itself) would get reimbursed for managing the program. A Municipal Authority cannot be reimbursed but the townships could submit the cost. Jamie Lorah (SSM) said she needs to discuss the options with the Board and that needs to be in the sewage management program that gets submitted to DEP – who is administering the program, how often we are going to require pump outs, and who is tracking everything. That is the stuff that needs to get ironed out.
Mike Kreiser (SES) gave the manager’s report:
In water operations, Mike reported that:
- Copies of the following information has been submitted by SES to PA DEP on the authority’s behalf and are viewable via PA DEP website via the eDMR.
- Discharge monitoring report and Discharge monitoring report supplemental report
- All vehicles are now operational.
- We plan on locating and marking water main valves boxes and curb stop boxes. If needed, schedule a repair or replacement of the broken curb or valve box.
- New Regulation requires a comprehensive monitoring plan due in August.
In sewage operations, Mike reported that:
- Normal operations continue.
- All wells are operational. Currently running two wells at approximately 100gpm.
- On 6/11/19 the sample collected by Suburban Testing Labs at sample site # 701 (2210 Wynonah Drive) came up positive for Total Coliform. I also found out that the address for entry point 701 is incorrect. The site address is 2643 Wynonah and not 2210 Wynonah.
- On 6/13/19 Suburban Testing Labs collected follow up samples. One at site # 701 (2643 Wynonah Drive) one Upstream (2208 Wynonah Drive) and one Downstream (2641 Wynonah Drive-Marina). The upstream and downstream samples were both negative but sample site # 701 contained both Total Coliform and E. Coli Bacteria. Follow up samples were taken and were fine.
- The frost-free hydrant has a leak which could cause the issue. The POA was notified and told that the leak needs to be repaired ASAP. POA dug up the test hydrant and there was no leak present – thinking it was on the frost-free hydrant and there is a stem that sealed itself. If it starts leaking again, you might want to see about replacing the hydrant.
- Dave Smith spoke with Joshua Krammas (DEP) who said a Level 2 assessment needs to be done in 30 days. Joshua is going to forward the form to Dave along with any Public Notification that they require.
- Booster Station is at 13.2 PSI, as of June 17, 2019.
- Booster Station: All pumps operational and rotating on monthly basis.
In engineering matters, Jamie Lorah (SSM) said she has not received confirmation or any additional information from DEP. Jamie said she would still like to request to meet with the PCMA Board to review and fine tune the documents because we can not submit anything without PCMA’s input. Joe Zerbe asked Jamie if the PCMA Board must talk with the townships first? Jamie said yes, we do need to get together with them. We could talk first and then bring in the townships - it could be the same day. Jamie said DEP is not going to let you decommission the wastewater plant unless you have everything laid out for them – who is going to manage this program.
- Normal operations continue.
- Plant ran well for May 2019.
- Both EQ tanks have a large amount of sediment in both tanks. Recommends having both tanks cleaned out.
- Approximately 25 septic pumps are in the backlog.
- Not in May but in April there was a TSS violation in the wastewater plant. We got the results back late. We only do one sample a month. I did email Dave to do another sample because it was close to our limit and he did not get the email and set the sampler up like I asked. There was one TSS violation in April. This is the first one since SES took over. It doesn’t happen often but there is no impact. I wanted to make you aware because it wasn’t in the last month’s report. Everything else is back to normal. We don’t have a reason for the TSS violation – the filter is on.
- Mike Kreiser (SES) said he buzzed through the agreement and the only thing he sees is that it is for one year, but he will look at the contract further and get back to the PCMA Board.
Jim Ridderhoff asked when we have a malfunction and we report it the Sewage Enforcement Officer (SEO) – are we getting effective help from the SEO’s to fix that malfunction because every month we have many malfunctions that don’t get fixed. Nancy said when a septic pump is done, and something is wrong – we send the property owner a letter (that the SEO drafted) giving them fourteen days to fix the problem. The property owner must fill out the form and send back the form along with a copy of the repair bill. If we do not get it back within fourteen days – then a Problem Identification Report (PIR) is sent to the SEO. Then the SEO handles it – he will send a letter to the property owner or he will go out and visit the site and check to see if it was repaired and the SEO will sign off on it. Nancy said every couple of months the SEO will send a list of PIR’s that were fixed and can be removed from the monthly report.
In legal matters, Joe Zerbe said routine legal matters were addressed. The only other thing Joe had to report was that he had a conversation with Attorney Bruder a few days ago and Pat Caulfied yesterday. Pat had called Joe because Attorney Bruder had called him and Pat wanted to know what it was about, and Joe suggested to Pat that he should come to tonight’s meeting.
A new Corporate Resolution was needed to be in place for selected Board members to conduct financial business and business decision on behalf of the PCMA because the one on file is outdated. The matter was tabled till the next meeting.
The Board discussed a property that has the curb stop in the middle of their driveway. PCMA personnel cannot get the curb box cover off to access the curb stop. Joe Zerbe will send a letter to the property owners.
There being no further business, Jerry Weiss motioned for adjournment, Matt Gruber seconded the motion, carried by all. Jim Ridderhoff adjourned the meeting at 7:27 p.m.
Meeting minutes were taken, prepared, and submitted by Nancy Wesner.