LYNNFIELD — After a very busy few months of meetings and discussions, the Lynnfield Center Water District (LCWD) Board of Commissioners wishes to share information about several initiatives of importance to ratepayers and the community.
Commissioners will continue to take up many issues in the coming months including: setting a budget for the coming fiscal year and reviewing articles submitted for approval to the Annual District Meeting and Election of Officers; reviewing ongoing capital improvement projects; and maintaining efforts to address and limit per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in the water supply. In the meantime, they wanted to share updates on the following.
New Water Rates
Commissioners have approved new volumetric rates, which took effect on March 1, 2022.
The new rates are $9.13 per 1,000 gallons, up to 24,000 gallons, and $22.84 for each 1,000 gallons above that. Fixed quarterly charges of $25 per quarter for residential and municipal customers, and $50 per quarter, remain unchanged.
New rates will be reflected in the June billing. It is anticipated these rates, together with the tax levy that was reduced in November of 2021 to $0.43 per $1,000 of property valuation, will result in an increase of $119 annually for the typical residential customer.
Commissioners approved the new rates after a review and consideration of several key budget drivers. “Outside of adding an operator which the District desperately needs given all the work planned for the upcoming years, this is pretty much a level-funded budget on items within our control. I commend Superintendent John Scenna for preparing this so efficiently given the economic challenges we are facing,” said Commissioner Jack Adelson at a recent meeting.
About 70 percent of the projected budget increase is due to:
- Increased costs for programs required by the state and federal governments.
- Debt service payments for capital improvement projects approved to secure the District water supply.
- Increased obligations to the Essex Regional Retirement System.
The budget also projects significant increases in costs of fuel and oil, and in supplies such as pipe, fittings, and meters related to current supply chain challenges.
In September 2021, LCWD began testing for per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), one month ahead of the implementation of new Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) regulatory limits. PFAS are man-made substances that do not break down quickly, and are linked to health risks. Last fall, LCWD sample tests from some sources showed PFAS levels slightly above the Massachusetts Maximum Contamination Levels (MCL).
LCWD took aggressive steps, including educating customers, making operational changes to its pumping sequences and sources, and working diligently in putting a plan in place to identify sources and address them. Test results in December, January, and February show PFAS levels below Massachusetts Maximum Contamination Levels.
Supported by voter approval at the Special District Meeting in early March, LCWD will continue to take the following steps to remediate PFAS:
- Continuing water sampling per the DEP regulated sampling plan and analyze said results, plus educating the public
- Reviewing design and engineering of onsite treatment at Station 2 Main Street and a Pilot Test Program Permit with the state DEP.
- Evaluating long-term options with Station 2 and all other District facilities, including the possibility of accessing additional water from the Massachusetts Water Resources Authority in lieu of water supplied by this source.
- Designing options to address PFAS treatment at the Glen Drive Station as part of that Capital Improvement Project scheduled to bid this coming winter. Currently LCWD has also funded bench testing PFAS removal filtration together with a planned Iron & Manganese bench test planned for late March.
- Implementing a Bottled Water Rebate Program for residents who receive all water from Station 2. This article is a proactive response to ratepayers who are concerned about PFAS levels as the District moves forward with its plans. Should the District be out of compliance with DEP requirements in a quarter, eligible households or units within the impacted area who qualify will receive a $55 per month payment (one payment per household/unit).
Voters at the Special District Meeting also approved changes to the LCWD Charter, which serves as the basic framework of the District’s form of governance.
A working group reviewed the Charter, originally developed in 1939, and recommended changes to modernize District elections and a few other administrative matters. The changes were approved by Commissioners, then presented at the Special District Meeting. Changes include:
- A requirement that candidates submit both a letter of intent and at least 25 signatures of registered voters living in the District. If 25 signatures are certified by the Town Clerk, the candidate will appear on the ballot.
- Moving the District Treasurer from an elected position to a three-year appointment by the Commissioners.
- Increasing the term of District Clerk to three years.
- Clarification of financial terms, fees, and conditions.
Changes must now be approved by the state legislature via a home rule petition. District officials are working with Lynnfield’s elected representatives to obtain this approval. The changes are not expected to take effect before the 2023 Election of Officers which will take place at the 2023 Annual District Meeting.
2022 Annual District Meeting and Election of Officers
The 2022 Annual District Meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, May 11, at 6:30 p.m., at the Merritt Center, 600 Market St. Commissioners also may schedule a Special District Meeting on the same night, should there be unresolved matters with the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.
The warrant for the 2022 Annual District Meeting (and Special District Meeting if required) will close on April 11 at 7:30 p.m. At that time, Commissioners will discuss the warrant, and vote whether to approve it for the Annual Meeting.
The Election of Officers will be held during the Annual District Meeting. Those interested in running for Commissioner, Treasurer, or Clerk are asked to submit a cover letter and resume to the District Offices no later than April 11 at 4 p.m.
On Monday, March 28, the project team from CDM/Smith Engineering will provide Commissioners and the public with updates on capital upgrades at the Glen Drive plant and the Wakefield Interconnection Project.
On Monday, April 25, Commissioners will host a public hearing on the proposed 2022-2023 budget, which supports the District’s priorities in the coming fiscal year.
“We have been committed to running the District as open and transparent as possible. We really encourage customers to reach out to us with their concerns and come to our meetings. Your input is valued and gives us the opportunity to make informed decisions,” Chairman Joseph Maney said.