LWV OBSERVER CORPS: Water & Sewer Commission, Sept. 5

Marblehead League of Women Voters Observer Corps

Observer Corps Reports are provided by volunteers from the Marblehead League of Women Voters. To learn more about the League and its activities, see my.lwv.org/massachusetts/marblehead.

BOARD: The Water & Sewer Commission

DATE: Sept. 5

PRESENT: Chairman F. Carlton Siegel, Thomas Carroll, Thomas L. Murray, Barton Hyte. Staff present: Superintendent Amy McHugh, Office Manager Dianne Rodgers, Assistant Superintendent Bethany Spangler


Superintendent report

Water: McHugh discussed ongoing issues with chlorine residual at Burke’s Tank, to be included in the water-loss audit.

The water department is working with the fire department on training at the transfer station.

Sewer: The Fort Beach wet-well needs work. Crews are concerned about falls while working there.

The department is researching the cost of a back-truck, though one is not immediately needed. McHugh is waiting for two companies to provide trucks for test drives. The current truck has technical issues, and it’s been difficult to get support. McHugh wants references on trucks since the town needs one that can handle sewer cleaning. The capital improvement plan will include the expense.

No word yet on expected Congressional Directed Spending funding requests from Rep. Seth Moulton and Sen. Elizabeth Warren — $3 million total.

Administration: Monthly reports were submitted and reviewed. There is a discrepancy in outstanding bills between the two systems that McHugh is addressing with the finance director.

McHugh will take procurement classes to become a procurement officer, completing training in January 2024. She will be the backup for the finance director.

Rodgers reported on collections: 270 days overdue is 1 person; 180 days is 60 people. The commission discussed the availability of monthly billing for better monitoring.

Lower water demand this summer due to heavy rainfall.

The GIS server crashed two weeks ago, forcing much manual work. Faulty drive, 12 years old. Spangler has become the department’s main “computer,” adding to the workload. The new finance director is pushing things in the right direction. McHugh hopes the issue will be resolved by Sept. 12.

Other reports

MWRA: Report included in package — three employees visited Quabbin Reservoir. MWRA offers confined-space training — most employees will attend over the next two months.

South Essex Sewage District: CDM will assess transformer truck delivery over Bessom Street, coordinating with MMLD since the transformer passes over water, sewer and electrical lines.

They are planning a November field trip for board members.

Drain layer licenses

The commission will now review all new and renewal drain-layer license applications at meetings. The department is also calling applicant references. A revised application review policy is in the works to add checks.

The commission approved two applications.


Answering service: The commission approved hiring BPE Inc. in Beverly for answering service.

I88 ABC Material Processing 2023-Change Order: A DPW yard was approved at Town Meeting. Adjustments are needed to add yard clean-up to the change order, $43,000 for fencing the upper yard. The commission approved Water & Sewer paying about 10% of the cost.

Pump Station Service Replacement — Change Order: The department continues to see delays on traffic boxes. McHugh asked for a contract extension to January 2023, approved by the commission.

Lead and Copper Grant Submission: Fully funded to replace lead service lines and report on lines so homeowners can access the information on the department website. The chairman was authorized to sign to start the grant process.

Request for exemption

5 Gilbert Heights: A drain layer installed plastic pipe, usually done by the water department, so water has not been turned on. McHugh requested more documentation from the homeowner and drain layer. The commission approved the exemption, contingent on sales receipts and satisfactory info for McHugh.


89 Harbor Ave.: McHugh’s letter to the homeowner clarifies responsibility if there are issues with the exempt service. The commission reviewed the letter.

Railroad right-of-way

Various departments have ownership stakes. The Select Board is planning the rail trail. Street crossings got grants and a design is out to replace bridges with road-rated ones, though MMLD and Water/Sewer don’t think that’s necessary. Further discussion on construction of gates. McHugh wanted to make the commission aware.

Finance department

Working on new practices, approved a Water & Sewer credit card with usage policy. Enterprise funds will move from National Grand to Eastern Bank.

The meeting went into executive session at 8:45 p.m. Next meeting is Oct. 3 at 7 p.m.

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