July 2016

A regular meeting of the Board of the Plum Creek Municipal Authority was held on July 19, 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, and Matt Gruber. Also in attendance were Dave Bright (PCMA Engineer), Joe Zerbe (PCMA Attorney), Jeff Crawford (PCMA Operations Manager, Select Environmental), and property owners who signed the attendance record: David Mengel, Bonnie & David Tyson, and Joe Haggerty..

Jim Ridderhoff called the meeting to order at 6:00 p.m.

The minutes of the prior meeting held in June, 2016 were reviewed and accepted by motion of Matt Gruber, seconded by Tom Nagle, and carried by all.

The Treasurer's report for June, 2016 was reviewed and accepted by motion of Matt Gruber, seconded by Tom Nagle, carried by all.

Jim welcomed the visitors who attended the meeting and opened the floor to them. David Tyson asked the Board why the test couldn’t be done on the water line running across the dam when the POA’s engineer came over to do observe the test. He wanted to know where the miscommunication was. Jeff said there was no miscommunication – he said he made arrangements to have it done with Richard Harding and the test was done. Jeff said the test was done as scheduled, and on the day it was supposed to be done, and added the POA’s engineer was present when the test was done. Dave Tyson said Richard Harding indicated to him that he (Harding) wanted the test done a different way. Jeff said he already explained to the people present at the test that he cannot do it the way they wanted right now because it would create a lot of dirty water in the community and the PCMA did not have enough water reserves to be able to flush afterward. The test has to wait until The PCMA has adequate water to flush the dirty water that will be caused by the test the LWPOA wants.

Dave Tyson asked why the PCMA decided to work on the wells now. Tom said the PCMA didn’t “decide” to do the well rehab now, the wells decided – they stopped pumping adequately and the work had to be done or the community wouldn’t have an adequate water supply.

Mrs. Tyson asked how much time in advance was needed to do the pressure test on the water line running across the dam. Tom said when the LWPOA originally contacted the PCMA to do the test on the water line, it was left in the hands of the POA to decide when they wanted to do it because, at that time, the PCMA could have done it right away. Tom said that the PCMA’s operator agreed to do it the next morning after the LWPOA’s request but the POA cancelled the test because the engineer couldn’t be present. The POA never contacted the PCMA after that to have it done. Mrs. Tyson asked if the PCMA could give the POA Board members advance notice that the test was going to be done. Tom told her that the LWPOA representative who sets up the test, not the PCMA, has to be responsible for letting everyone else on the POA Board know when it’s going to be done.

Mrs. Tyson also told the Board that, when she called the Authority about having dirty water, someone came out right away to take care of the problem, and she wanted to thank the Board. Tom said that all the workers try to handle issues as fast as possible when problems arise, but a lot of things often occur all at the same time.

In legal matters, Joe Zerbe said he had nothing to report.

Jeff gave the manager’s report. In water operations he reported:

  • Normal operations continue. No violations were reported for the month of June.
  • Meter reads were completed by June 29th, with about a dozen re-reads afterward. Mike Cavadini was a big help with the meter reading, and Mike Kreiser read meters for a day.
  • Three leaks were detected on customer service lines – one has been repaired and the other two are in the process of being repaired. Dan Smaglinski followed up with leak detection on June 22nd but found no additional leaks.
  • The community pool usage was monitored for roughly 30 days but no unusual usage was noted, indicating that there were probably no leaks in that area.
  • The Booster Station is at 10.2 PSI, up from 5.1 which was significantly better. The storage tank pressure is steadily increasing since the work on Well #8 was completed.
  • Well #3 production is at 8 gpm (gallons per minute), considerably less than it should be.
  • The old casings at Well #8 were removed and all appear in good, reusable condition.
  • Daily phosphate testing is being performed at each well. Most readings are at or below 6 ppm.
  • A quote was received from Ronnie Folk Paving for $2,340 for asphalt paving at five locations that were disturbed during water leak repairs.
  • A quote for roughly $2,000 was received to remove two oak trees at the Booster Station but Jeff suggested checking around because he thought the quote was a little high.
  • A pressure test on a water line running across the big dam was requested by the Property Owners’ Association, and a test was conducted with the POA’s engineer present. The test registered approximately 140 psi for 15 minutes with no drop in pressure. The POA wanted another test done with both main valves closed but the test will most likely result in a lot of dirty water in the community and the PCMA did not have enough water in reserve to flush for dirty water; the test was postponed until the water storage tanks had enough water for excessive flushing.
In sewage operations, Jeff reported that:
  • Normal operations continue.
  • Two 50-lb bags of Polymer were purchased to help with settling solids in the sewage treatment plant, to increase clear effluent, and reduce the number of haul-outs from the digester.
  • Axiom removed the #3 blower to be repaired. No major overhaul was required. The blower will be cleaned and reinstalled. Blowers #1 and #2 maintenance was completed and PSI gauges were installed. Blower #2 is currently online. The drum filter shaft bearings will require more extensive repairs. The spray motor might need replacement or repair also.
  • A composite sampler is scheduled to be installed on July 21 or 22.
  • A plant safety inspection by the Authority’s insurance company is scheduled for July 21 at 9:00 am.
  • The new used pump truck was picked up today. Modifications are expected to be needed in order to perform pumps adequately. The Board will have to decide what to do with the old Mack pump truck.
Jeff added that Blower #3 is the larger capacity blower and Axiom, after checking it out thoroughly, found that there was nothing wrong with it although it had been out of commission for a number of years. Jeff said it just rusted up a bit from sitting, and it’s back in operation and will be installed in about a week. He also said that the drum filter shaft bearings were not able to be repaired because a previous repair performed in-house was done incorrectly which resulted in a bent shaft, and now it will cost more to repair. Jeff said the drum must be repaired as soon as possible because DEP will have to be notified if it breaks and becomes inoperable.

In regard to the old white Mack pump truck, Jeff suggested that the Authority might want to keep it for extra sewage storage when needed. The Board agreed it should be kept for the time being.

Jeff had a call from a customer who suddenly had a big increase in his water pressure. Jen said a sudden, big increase in water pressure happened to someone else also. Jeff told the customer that the only thing that would really be effective would be to install a pressure reducing valve on his water line. A lot of customers in the community have installed pressure reducing valves.

Matt asked if the pump that was pulled from one of the wells could be repaired and reused. Dave Bright said that Kohl Bros. pulled a pump from Well #1 in February of this year, which he thinks wasn’t that old. Dave said he recently asked Kohl Bros. what happened to that pump and, although he didn’t get a solid answer, he got the impression that it couldn’t be repaired. Dave also asked Kohl Bros. about the pump that was just pulled from Well #8, and they were going to see if that one could be cleaned up, repaired, and reused. Kohl Bros. hasn’t had a chance yet to take a good look at the Well #8 pump to see if it can be saved. Matt said money could be saved if a pump could be reused but only if a repair would make it viable to do so because reusing a questionable pump might break down later causing additional costs.

In engineering matters, Dave Bright said that Scott Mundell spent a lot of time looking at the condition of the PCMA’s wells and then consulted with Dave on his findings. One of the problems they believe is occurring in some of the wells, especially Well #1, is that the water level was being drawn down so far that some of the water bearing zones are being exposed resulting in water coming out of those zones which adds more air into the water. Because of the high iron and manganese in the rock formations, it’s making the fouling worse. The best thing to do is to try to maintain higher water levels in the well to keep the zones from being exposed. Dave said Well #3 should be addressed next by replacing the pump because it’s pumping at such a low rate even though water is available and the level in the well is relatively high. Once the wells are back in peak pumping condition, a maintenance program should be initiated to keep them that way. Dave suggested a cleaning option on a rotating basis that proved effective in the past but it’s costly and it will take the well being cleaned out of commission for ten days. He said the Board might want to consider the maintenance plan after the storage tanks have refilled to capacity and all the wells are pumping effectively.

Additionally, Dave said the water levels in each well should be monitored to develop a record of what those levels are. He said Jeff has already started to do that and he will continue to do so. Then, once production is back to where it should be, all the wells should be pumped on a continuous basis but at a lesser rate so the water levels stay higher in each of the wells. Jim asked if that meant running the wells 24 hours a day and Dave said it might mean that but it’s not detrimental for the well pumps to do that. Dave said the water quality may improve greatly by running the wells as he suggested. If the wells have no “down time,” there’s less chance that dirt and sediment can build up. Jeff said it’s his understanding that Well #6 was shut down for a good portion of the winter and it was turned off for months. He said he thought that contributed to more dirty water. When he and Joe started Well #6 up in the spring, Jeff said it took half a day of flushing to clear the well of dirt, iron, and manganese buildup.

Dave said records indicate that the water is there and, based on what’s been seen so far with the recent water level measurements, the water is still in the ground. It’s just a matter of running the wells in a way that doesn’t create excessive draw-down in any one particular well. Even though it can’t be eliminated entirely, operating the wells that way can slow down the fouling of the wells.

Jim asked if something has been going on recently that’s causing the well issues and the pumps becoming fouled because he said he has not seen this happen before in the twenty or more years he was with the Authority. Dave said he looked at the well reports that Mike Stewart would prepare each month but he said he was looking at the reports more from a standpoint of the overall rate as it compares to how much the customers were using. But when he looked at the well records individually, he saw that there was a steady and alarming decline in the amount of water that was coming out of each of the wells. He said the rate of decline was much more than he would have expected but he thinks it was coming for some time until the fouling of the pumps from iron and manganese finally came to an abrupt head, making it seem like something significant changed in the water system.

Tom asked if the Aqua Freed cleaning can be done for Well #3 at the same time the pump is replaced to avoid having to pull the pump and piping twice. Jeff said that Scott Mundell said the same thing when Well #8 was done in that it would be great if the two things could be done at once, meaning the repair and the Aqua Freed cleaning at the same time. But the wells have to be repaired and put back on line quickly, and it would take at least ten days longer to get each well back online and it had to be done right away. The Board agreed that the most important thing right now is to get the well pumps replaced and get them pumping like they should.

A customer contacted the office to see if the Board would be interested in purchasing his vacant lot which was next to Well #2. Well #2 was taken offline completely a few years ago for a number of reasons, and the Board sometimes purchased adjoining, vacant lots for wellhead protection. The Board indicated that the lot would not be beneficial to the Authority because there were no plans to ever put Well #2 back into operation again. Jen said she would let the customer know.

The Board decided to put off replacing the large tanks at the sewage treatment plant for another year because the wells required a lot of expensive work. There’s no way to know what the final total for well rehabilitation will add up to when everything has been completed, but the Board said funds will have to replenished before spending $200,000 or more to replace the tanks.

The Board also opted to repair the faulty oil tanks and lines for the furnaces at the sewage treatment plant and truck garage rather than switch everything over from oil to gas heat because of the well rehabilitation costs. The Board asked Jeff to try to determine what needs attention with the oil tanks and lines. Only repairs that must be done to assure safe operation of the heating systems will be addressed right now.

There being no further business, Matt Gruber motioned for adjournment, Tom Nagle seconded the motion, carried by all. The meeting was adjourned by Jim Ridderhoff at 7:15 pm.

Meeting minutes were taken, prepared, and submitted by Jennifer Hoy.

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