Service Connection

Volume 15, Issue 4 snowman graphic
Winter 2007

Contents

Hybrid Water System

Doing More With Less: Director's Corner

New Division Director

Source Protection Progress

Position Available on the Maine Public Drinking Water System

Reminder: Deadlines for Schedule 4 Systems

Clarification to Article on Confidental Results from State Lab, Fall 2007 Issue

WARNing

Cross Connection Rules

Contract Operations: It's All About Communication

Water Operator Dates for 2008

Board of Licensure News

 


Hybrid Water System
Dan PiaseckiDan Piasecki, Compliance Officer

The Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Wells Water District (KK&W) serves approximately 35,000 year-round residents. During the busy summer season, the population served significantly increases.

Historically, KK&W supplied its customers with water from Branch Brook. The capacity of the Branch Brook plant is about 5.8 million gallons per day (mgd). Demand during the peak summer months eventually became high enough that additional water was needed. The most economical solution at the time was to interconnect with a nearby utility and purchase the difference. During the days with the highest demand, KK&W had to purchase as much as 1.5 mgd from the Biddeford and Saco Water Company.

Over time, the utilities began treating their sources differently. These differences created blending issues in the distribution system. KK&W began looking at other options, including creating a hybrid system of surface water and groundwater.

After locating several promising sites, KK&W developed three wells. A new chemical addition facility was also needed. With KK&W performing much of the design and controls work in-house, the facility was completed in early 2007 and is located adjacent to the existing surface water plant. The new well system increased capacity by about 3 mgd. Unlike Branch Brook, the well water quality is very consistent and requires fewer treatment processes. As a result, KK&W saves a considerable amount of money on chemicals when running the wells. There are also fewer operational requirements.

Though water quality from the two plants varies slightly, KK&W has not encountered problems since the introduction of groundwater. In fact, the well water has significantly fewer disinfection byproducts as well as a slight increase in alkalinity. KK&W also now has flexibility to shutdown the surface water plant when the brook becomes difficult to treat, typically after heavy rain or rapid snowmelt.

Hybridizing the system has been a resounding success and should allow KK&W to meet its expected demand for the next twenty years.

 

Back to Top


Doing More with Less:
Roger CrouseActing Director's Corner

Most of us in the drinking water industry recognize the cliché “Doing More with Less” as the slogan for this decade. At the Drinking Water Program, our full-time staffing level is permanently down by one person, while the number of rules and regulations that we implement has been increasing every year. Of course, public water systems are familiar with these increases because most have been passed on to you.

We recognize the many issues competing for your time. You are concerned about safety, licensing, staffing, payroll, training, public relations and a hundred other issues. We are forced to keep many balls in the air at once. In many cases, despite the increased work load, fiscal and political circumstances make it impossible to secure the resources we need.

Even as we have more demands on our time, we must spend more time finding efficiencies and deciding what we cannot do. The DWP reorganized in March 2006 to be more efficient with our resources. The changes have stretched our staff and required considerable effort.

In November, DWP staff met to discuss the next steps in our continuous improvement. Everyone had the opportunity to provide input on where we could make improvements. We made some good headway, and staff again showed their desire to improve the services they provide.

As we continue to “do more with less”, we have seen our staff’s true dedication. I am very proud of them for all of their great work.

Sincerely, Roger Crouse, Acting Director

Back to Top


New Division Director

Nancy BeardsleyWe are pleased to announce that Nancy Beardsley has accepted the position of the Director of the Division of Environmental Health. Nancy held the Drinking Water Program Director position for seven years. She will continue to work to integrate services across the Division.

Nancy looks forward to working with the staff of the Division of Environmental Health to promote public health in this new capacity. We wish Nancy well in her new position.

 

Back to Top


Source Protection Progress
Andy TolmanAndy Tolman, Water Resources Team Leader

We are moving forward with the implementation of PL 2007, Chapter 353, which contains several provisions designed to make the state a more effective partner in protecting public water supplies. There are two areas where we’re working particularly hard. The first is to implement the new provision of our law:

When undertaking actions that have a negative impact on a public water supply, a state agency shall consider the impact and evaluate alternatives to avoid and minimize the impact.

We have started conversations with several state agencies to develop memorandums of understanding to integrate consideration of public water systems in their decision making. We’re working with the Departments of Conservation and Inland Fisheries and Wildlife on updating their Boating Facilities strategic plan, with a group of stakeholders, including a number of public water system representatives.

We are also working with Maine Rural Water Association to identify land uses and landowners within a 300-foot radius of community water wells. This effort will both improve our understanding of the current level of threats to these wells, and will provide a definitive list of persons who will be affected by the upcoming Natural Resource Protection Act (NRPA) permitting requirements. We and the Department of Environmental Protection have agreed that this information is important to have before we write regulations for NRPA. We completed a pilot evaluation of 20 systems, and are now refining the process so that we collect the information in a format that we can easily use for analysis and notification. By the time this is in print, many public water systems should be talking to MRWA staff about their land ownership and land use near their wells.

 

Back to Top


Position Available on the Maine Public Drinking Water Commission

The Maine Public Drinking Water Commission was formed in 1993 by the Maine State Legislature. The Commission membership consists of the designee of the Commissioner of the Department of Health and Human Services and eight other members appointed by the Governor. The eight members must represent the drinking water public or a public water system.

One of the primary duties of the Commission is to evaluate the fee that is assessed upon all public water systems. This fee, the Alternative Funding Mechanism or Drinking Water Fee, covers the cost of five full-time staff positions at the Drinking Water Program. The Commission determines when fees need to be raised and if the method of assessing fees need to be adjusted. The duties of the Commission also include evaluating existing and projected Drinking Water Program workloads, resources and staffing.
The current vacancy represents the water purveying community and must be associated with a public water system serving a population of not more than 1,000. If you are interested in filling this position, please contact Cheryl Pratt, 287-5694 at the Drinking Water Program for more information.

 

Back to Top


Reminder: Deadlines for Schedule 4 Systems
Jennifer GrantJennifer Grant, Compliance Officer

Remember, the first deadline for Schedule 4 Systems (serving a population less than 10,000) is April 1, 2008 for the Stage 2 D/DBP Rule as well as the LT2SWTR. The Drinking Water Program will mail information to your system if these rules apply to you. All Community and Non-Transient, Non-Community systems that use a chemical disinfectant (such as chlorine) are impacted by the Stage 2 Rule, while all surface water systems are affected by the LT2 Rule.

The Stage 2 Rule requires that community systems submit an Initial Distribution System Evaluation (IDSE) Plan consisting of either: a Standard Monitoring Plan, a System Specific Study or a waiver to the IDSE, such as a 40/30 Certification or a Very Small System Waiver.

Non-transient, Non-Community systems (such as schools or office buildings) are waived from the IDSE portion of the Stage 2 Rule, but must comply with Stage 2 maximum contaminant levels. The DWP will help determine whether your system is eligible for either of the waivers from the IDSE.

The LT2 Rule requires that systems submit a source water monitoring plan. Filtered surface water systems serving less than 10,000 are required to conduct raw water monitoring for E. coli (unfiltered systems must monitor for Cryptosporidium). Twelve months of monitoring is required to determine your systems risk of microbial contamination. A second round of monitoring will be required 6 years after the initial round.

The DWP is planning training on these rules in January in locations around the state. We will mail information to your system over the next few months. Please contact your compliance officer with questions.

Back to Top


Clarification to Article on Confidental Results from State Lab, Fall 2007 Issue
Carlton GardnerCarlton Gardner, Compliance and Enforcement Team Leader

The article in the fall 2007 issue of the Service Connection, I indicated “results not intended for compliance purposes are available only to HETL (State Health and Environmental Lab) staff and the lab’s client.” This statement was not totally accurate.

We were informed about a 1989 statute that allows the DHHS (Department of Health and Human Services) state toxicologist or the epidemiologist to access laboratory results from HETL, as part of an on-going toxicological investigation or for disease surveillance. Analytical results requested as part of an investigation will be considered private and confidential within DHHS guidelines.

All HETL environmental laboratory data is also subject to request though the Freedom of Access Act.

Hopefully this article helps to clear up the issue of confidentiality of HETL water analysis results. If you have further questions call Carlton Gardner at 287-8403.


Back to Top


WARNing
Bill Johnson, Security Coordinator

States across the country are creating Water/Wastewater Agency Response Networks, commonly called WARNs. Maine is also working in that direction.

A WARN is a mutual aid organization of water and wastewater utilities dedicated to helping one another in emergencies. A formal agreement details such things as roles and responsibilities of member parties, procedures for requesting and providing aid, cost reimbursement and allocation, workers’ compensation and liability. Participants sign the agreement when they join the WARN.

Membership is voluntary and there is little or no cost involved. When called upon, utilities have the option of responding if they are willing and able to do so, but they are not obligated to respond.

An important piece of WARN is a database of resources listing an inventory of equipment and materials such as tools, heavy equipment, pipes, and valves. The database may include operators with a list of their skills and certification levels available for emergencies. A WARN may also maintain a website that provides a member list, list of resources, the agreement, membership application, etc. For examples of some WARN websites check out www.flawarn.org, www.calwarn.org, or www.txwarn.org.

There are several benefits to being a member of a WARN.

  • If there is a federally-declared emergency, only WARN members will be eligible to recover assistance costs from FEMA;
  • Even if you have a mutual aid agreement with neighboring systems, WARN members can get assistance from a more distant utility if neighboring systems are experiencing the similar difficulties;
  • Issues concerning liability, workers’ compensation, tool or equipment damage or loss, housing and feeding, etc. are addressed in the agreement; and
  • Relationships and links among utilities are established before a time of need. Members know ahead of time where they can access the materials, equipment and skilled operators they may need.

Maine has established a Leadership Group composed of utilities, water and wastewater organizations as well as state agencies. The Leadership Group has worked at laying the groundwork for a MeWARN. The next step is to establish a Steering Committee of utility representatives to structure a MeWARN.

Please be on the lookout for news concerning the development of a Maine WARN, and consider becoming a member of Maine’s WARN once it’s formed.

Back to Top


Cross Connection Rules

The Drinking Water Program will begin making revisions to the Cross Connection Rules in 2008. A meeting will be held on Wednesday, March 19th to discuss changes. If you would like to participate in a workgroup to revise the Cross Connection Rules, please contact Nate Saunders at 287-5685 or nathan.saunders@maine.gov.

 

Back to Top


Teresa TrottContract Operations: It's All About Communication
Teresa Trott, Licensing Officer

About 800 public water systems (PWS) in Maine are required to have one or more licensed operators responsible for water quality and quantity decisions. By earning a license, operators show that they possess the knowledge, experience and expertise to properly maintain and operate a water system. These skills help aintain and/or improve compliance with drinking water regulations.Nearly half of these 800 systems have some form of “contract operations.” Agreements range from standby duty to complete operations of small systems run by off-site operators.

Communication between owner and operator is the strongest link in the chain to maintain public health protection. Owners and operators must clearly state who, what, when and how tasks will be accomplished in order to properly maintain and operate a PWS.

The operator is responsible for quality and quantity decisions. The owner is responsible for placing the water system under the direction of a licensed operator and addressing issues the operator may bring to the owner’s attention. These issues range from activities in the source protection area to making a plan for system improvements or securing access, to water-related property and equipment.

The licensed operator may delegate some tasks to another person. Any person performing these delegated tasks should be trained. The licensed operator is responsible for making sure the task is done correctly. Some tasks that might be delegated include:

Monitoring or sampling: The licensed operator should provide written procedures on Where, When and How to monitor or take a sample. Licensed operators should review monitoring reports and sample results, persons performing the tasks should report findings to the operator.

System checks: Monitor and assess what is happening in the source protection area, pump station, and distribution system. The person performing the checks needs to know what to look for and how to contact the operator.

System changes: Any changes that could affect water quality or quantity must be communicated to the designated operator, preferably before repair. The licensed operator needs to know that the repair has taken place, was performed adequately, and with appropriate materials.

Treatment system maintenance: Maintenance includes addition of treatment chemicals such as salt or chlorine to process tanks. The licensed operator should explain all tasks in writing. The person performing the tasks must be trained, record actions and communicate conditions to the operator.

By completing the designated operator form, an owner places the responsibility of water quality and quantity with the licensed operator. By signing the form, the licensed operator accepts this responsibility. These responsibilities remain in effect until DWP is notified of a change.

The Water Operator Board section of the Drinking Water Program website has helpful links for finding contract operators and writing contracts. Paper copies are available on request. Please call the DWP with specific questions.

Back to Top


 

WATER OPERATOR DATES FOR 2008

These changes were made after the DWP calendar went to print. Please note:

January 24 Board meeting – Augusta
February 2 Applications for March exams postmarked
February 21 Board meeting – Brunswick/Topsham
March 25 Exams Augusta
March 27 Exams Bangor
May 3 Applications for June Exams postmarked
May 22 Board meeting – Augusta
June 24 Exams Augusta
June 26 Exams Portland
September 6 Applications for October Exams postmarked
September 24 Board meeting – Bethel
October 21 Exams Augusta
October 23 Exams Presque Isle
November 20 Board meeting – Augusta

 

Watch the website for updates and locations

Back to Top


 

Board of Licensure News

The Board of Licensure has two vacancies:

• Very Small Water System
• Class II Operator

Contact Teresa Trott for information on how to apply.
Active duty military personnel may have operator license requirements pro-rated. Please notify the Board of Licensure if this affects you or someone you know.

Back to Top