2015 Annual Report
Board of Trustees
Jericho-Underhill Water District
P.O. Box 174
Underhill, Vermont 05489
October 1, 2014 to September 30, 2015
The Jericho-Underhill Water District provides drinking water and fire hydrant access to 324 residential and business connections representing about 900 people within the District. During the past year drinking water supplied to the District averaged about 50,752 gallons per day, which was approximately 5.7% lower than the previous year. Much of this reduction in usage occurred since June 2015 after the repair of a second major leak.
Water delivered to District customers this year was of high quality and adequate quantity and met all state and federal requirements. One new connection was added to the system; water was allocated for another and a third is pending.
Officers and Operators:
William R. Frank served as Moderator. The Board consisted of Joseph P. O’Brien, Trustee, Jason P. Ritter, Trustee and Peter H. Mitchell, President. The Clerk and Treasurer was Jane Maheux, assistant Clerk was Joseph P. O’Brien, Collector was Dwight DeCoster, and the Auditors were Vicki Milton, Harland Blodgett, and Bill VanDeVenter.
Marc Maheux was Chief Operator, Assistant Operator was Michael R. Willard, Tester was Helen Miller and Meter Reader was Dwight Decoster.
The Board wishes to thank everyone for their work this past year.
Water Quality and Monitoring
The District posts its “Consumer Confidence Report” on the District website; this report describes the quality of water delivered to customers. During the past year no violations occurred against State or Federal standards. Testing includes daily/weekly testing for chlorine, phosphate, and fluoride; monthly testing for coliform bacteria; and annual testing for nitrate and manganese. This past year the District received a certificate recognizing its participation in the State fluoridation program.
The District tests for copper (Cu) and lead (Pb) every three years in accordance with State and Federal regulations. At the ten residences tested this year, the highest copper reading was less that the limit by a factor of more than eight (that is it was 1/8th of the limit). Lead was below the detection limit (that is not detected) at all residences tested. This result is an indicator that District water is not aggressively attacking metals in the distribution system.
During repair work the District makes every effort to avoid contaminating water within the system. When repairs are made, the District issues a boil water advisory to affected customers. When repairs are completed, the District must take two samples at least a day apart. These two samples must test as not-detected for coliform bacteria to declare the water safe, a process which can take several days. The District thanks everyone for their cooperation during repairs, especially during the extensive work this summer along Route 15.
Payments Options, Bond Refund, and Utility Taxes
Beginning last year the Board offered as a customer service an on-line electronic payment system for water bills. This service is provided at a cost to the District by PSN (Payment Services Network). This service has seen increasing usage during the year. By year end of FY2015 about 10% of customers were using this option.
As a result of refinancing the District Bonds several years ago, the District received a refund (loan savings adjustment) of bond interest, principal and cash in the amount of $21,689.75. The Board placed this money in a newly established Capital Improvement Fund. The Capital Improvement Fund will be used to accumulate money for capital improvements and to pay for them.
In February 2015 the District was visited by Josh Kelman, an energy consultant from Efficiency Vermont. No major equipment/system inefficiencies were identified. However, the District noticed that it was being incorrectly billed taxes by one of its electric utilities. The District is no longer paying this tax and is seeking a refund (as is allowed by state law) of the taxes for the past 3 years. The Board intends to add this tax refund to the Capital Improvement Fund.
Day to day system operation involves a variety of tasks including monitoring of water usage, chemical usage, and operation of equipment. This year the work included water testing, repair of chemical pumps, exercising generators, exercising of valves, greasing of hydrants, periodic flushing of the system, installing/repairing and removing of meters, answering customer complaints and advising on corrective actions, locating and marking service lines, assessing damage to the system, trouble-shooting radio-link communication problems, coordinating repairs to a damaged hydrant, documenting the location of valves, hydrants and water lines, thawing service lines. This work is carried out by Chief Operator Marc Maheux and Assistant Mike Willard.
Major Leaks Found and Repaired; Water Usage Down
Leaks are a perennial problem for all water distribution systems including the Jericho-Underhill Water District. Leaks are especially difficult to find in the District because leaked water percolates into the ground and does not show as wet spots. In the past year due to work by the District and support from the state, the District has found and repaired two major leaks; leaks that have probably been present for some time.
Marc Maheux working with Randy Troupe, a state-funded leak detection expert, found a significant leak next to the Poker Hill tank in September 2014. The leak turned out to be the separation of a pipe joint at a considerable depth below the tank. Diagnosing the leak required draining. This leak was repaired in October 2014 by Wayne Russin Excavating; but usage data showed that the District was still losing a lot of water. In May of 2015 Marc again working with the same expert found another leak. This leak located at a residence in the Flats was repaired in mid-May by Wayne Russin Excavating. As part of this repair the District replaced outdated submain connections to three residences. Since then usage data has shown about 10,000 gallons per day less water is being pumped from our wells.
The District relies on customer watchfulness to find many leaks. If you see evidence of a leak such as an unusual wet spot, low pressure, dirty water or suspect there may be a leak, please contact the District.
Frozen Service Lines
January and February 2015 were the worst months since 2000 for service line freeze-ups. Even though several susceptible residences were advised to trickle their water for several weeks to avoid freeze-ups, many lines froze. Thawing requires several hours work at each location and the use of steam/hot water equipment to clear the ice plug. Chief Operator Marc Maheux and Assistant Mike Willard thawed lines at 6 residences and provided advice/assistance at several more.
Route 15 Improvements
In anticipation of the installation of sidewalks along the east side of Route 15 in Underhill in 2016, the District conducted a major project along Route 15 this summer. The purpose of this project was to replace aging or outdated components and improve main and service connections in this section to avoid more costly repairs in case they failed after the sidewalk was installed. The extensive project required locating, digging up, inspecting and upgrading where needed connections to the distribution main and to the service line. The project included replacing water main taps, replacing shutoff valves, replacing erie boxes with the more rugged buffalo boxes. The project was coordinated by Marc Maheux and Mike Willard and executed by Wayne Russin Excavating over a period of several weeks. At times work was delayed by weather. The project included digitally documenting the location of the main and of shut off valves. This project was financed by a 10 year loan.
Capital Plans and Improvements
Early in the year the Board updated its capital improvement plan with assistance of Paul O’Leary of engineering firm O’Leary and Burke. More recently the Board has engaged the engineering firm of Aldrich + Elliott of Essex Junction to do preliminary planning for several infrastructure projects. The projects identified by the Board include improving water pressure for Maple Ridge customers; this will probably involve the Maple Ridge cistern, water tank site, and distribution lines on Maple Ridge. Other infrastructure projects will be included. The Board has applied for a 5 year interest free planning loan, possibly forgive-able, to fund the initial stage of this project. The loan would be from the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund through the Vermont Municipal Bond Bank.
This year the Board also established a Capital Improvement Fund. It is anticipated that money from this new fund will be used to address nearer term, smaller infrastructure improvements.
Website and e-mail contact
As noted last year Marc Maheux has continued to improve the District website located at http://jerichounderhillwater.org. The Trustees encourage all customers to visit the website and register for e-mail notification of District communications such as boil water advisories and emergency notices. The website was used this year in the distribution of the Consumer Confidence Report saving the District printing and mailing costs. The website now contains a large archive of District information including: the District Regulations, Annual Meeting Minutes from 1976, Annual Reports from 1980 (except 1981, 1982, and 1986), Water Usage from 2000, Bacteria Test Results from 2006, results of other required tests from 2006, and much more.
How to get involved
If you are a resident of the District who would be interested in serving the District as a trustee, officer, employee, or volunteer please contact the Board. The Board asks District residents and customers to report water related irregularities such as leaks, wet spots, pressure swings, taste concerns, color concerns, etc. In the past customer reports have been the key to finding leaks and solving problems.
The Board holds regular monthly, public meetings on the first Monday of each month. These meetings are held at 7:00pm in the basement of the United Church of Underhill located at 7 Park Street in Underhill Flats across from the town green. Residents and voters of the District are welcome and encouraged to attend.
/s/ Peter H. Mitchell /s/ Joseph P. O’Brien /s/ Jason P. Ritter
Peter H. Mitchell, President Joseph P. O’Brien, Trustee Jason P. Ritter, Trustee
Dated: October 5, 2015