After an extended hiatus, HVWP is pleased to announce the re-release of the Village Wellspring, a periodic newsletter designed to keep you better informed about HVWP activities and events. We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our customers for their patience and courteousness as we continue to improve our billing, payment and maintenance procedures. We also truly appreciate those customers that let us know about unusual water usage, leaks, water quality changes and hydrant damage – this makes it easier for us to monitor water system health and safeguards our shared water resources. Please call or stop by anytime to talk about water – it’s our favorite topic.
STAFF & BOARD CHANGES
The last year has seen significant changes in staffing. Former Superintendent Tony Amato retired in Feb. 2016 after many years of selfless service (and many sleepless nights keeping the water system running). Superintendent Mike Heidorn was hired in late 2015; Mike was “stolen” from the Orange (MA) Water Dept., has 28 years of consulting/municipal experience and is a licensed geologist. Assistant Superintendent Josh Chapman and Water Operator Dennis Bell were hired in early 2016. Josh came from the Westminster (MA) Water Dept., has 11 years of water system experience and is a former Marine. Dennis was new to the field but ran his own contracting business for many years and quickly got his water operations licenses and fit right in with the rest of the team.
Our elected board has also experienced significant changes. Former and long-time Commissioner Jim Lyons passed away last winter; his sense of humor, business acumen and positive attitude are sorely missed. Tony Amato became a Commissioner, and HVWP has benefited tremendously from the ongoing transfer of his historical system knowledge. New Commissioners Jim O’Brien and Vinny Lembo also graciously agreed to serve. Jim comes from a long career in utility/facility construction management, engineering and inspection, and Vinny also comes from a career in the utility industry and has a long history of volunteering his time on various town boards.
CAPITAL IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
It’s no secret that many old water systems in towns throughout the U.S. are in need of significant investments to stabilize and upgrade their infrastructure. While it is currently a source of local pride and independence, the system here in the Village was founded in 1941 and is vulnerable to issues Water system operators (L to R) Gary Hebert, Josh Chapman & Dennis Bell replacing a hydrant. associated with aging assets. During the past year, HVWP studied those vulnerabilities and as a result our first-ever comprehensive 10-year CIP was borne. The CIP focuses on the most pressing and important infrastructure needs identified over the last decade by the State as requiring immediate attention. Those needs include tank replacement, new source development, emergency connection(s), meter upgrades, and water main and pump house improvements.
Addressing the CIP needs will require a significant long-term financial commitment. HVWP has always prided itself on providing affordable service, and is committed to continuing to do so. Great thought is being given to how we can properly plan for a strong future relative to funding. The Board believes we can effectively transition into performing the CIP tasks over the next several years through a creative combination of capital reserve funds, land sales and rate/fee restructuring. This plan was discussed with the Budget Committee in Feb. Please join us at the Library on July 19th at 6:30PM to get an overview of the water system, its challenges and the CIP plan.
OTHER ITEMS OF INTEREST
- Outdoor Water Use Restriction: The outdoor water use restriction that HVWP instituted in September 2016 has now been lifted thanks to increased precipitation and localized groundwater recharge. While the National Weather Service indicates that the area is likely to be removed from the drought list, the region still technically remains in a drought so we encourage our customers to conserve water. Visit our website for helpful tips.
- New Meters: If you haven’t seen us already, please expect a visit to change out your meter in the next few years. Routine meter replacement is a core component of our state-approved water conservation plan. We are completing this in-house to minimize costs. The new meters are much more efficient and less expensive for us to operate. They will allow us to detect costly water leaks for you in a much quicker fashion. Eventually, you will be able to access your water usage information and trends via a web link should you so choose.
- Upcoming Field Season: Upcoming projects in 2017 include water main work on Hackett Hill Road and at the proposed walking bridge between Veteran’s Drive and our office. We are constructing a 1MG replacement storage tank near I93, with related water main work in the Pinnacle Street – Vista Drive area; but the timing of construction is unclear and the earliest would be in the fall. We will also be out repairing miscellaneous hydrants, leaks, etc. We appreciate your patience and caution as we temporarily disrupt water and traffic.
- Thank You! We truly appreciate all those who clear snow from fire hydrants in proximity to their homes and businesses. This greatly improves fire protection and reduces costs.
- Backflow Prevention: Preventing the backwards flow of potentially contaminated water into the water system is a vital component of our mission. Future issues of this newsletter will likely delve into the topic in greater detail. Please be aware that we have ramped up enforcement of backflow prevention rules to improve the safety of all users. We have also adopted fees for testing/inspections and changed to an annual permit renewal period.