11/01/2010

WG1 September 16th Minutes

Commonwealth of Massachusetts

Water Infrastructure Finance Commission

Working Group One

Current Water Infrastructure Needs and Long Term Challenges

Approved minutes: September 16, 2010, 10am

In a meeting duly posted, Working Group One (Current Water Infrastructure Needs and Long Term Challenges) convened at ten am in room 350 in the State House in Boston.

Members Attending:  Bob Zimmerman, Phil Jasset, Dave Terry, Ned Bartlett, Dave Riedell, Becky Smith, and Rep. Carolyn Dykema

Also attending:  Jennifer Pederson; Stephen Silveira, John Clarkeson

The members elected Rep Dykema to chair the group.  Mr. Callahan was designated as vice chair/secretary in absentia, with the option to re-designate the position should he decline.

Representative Dykema opened the discussion with a review of the upcoming schedule for the full Commission and a request for members to comment on the charge of the working group.  The Working Group is to describe current needs, issues with determining need including documentation and requirements and the implications for public health and safety, for state and municipal budgets, for economic losses/growth and for the environment if needs are not met.

Before proceeding to the general discussion, a question was raised about the impacts of the open meeting law on the proceedings and the use of email discussion. The members discussed the importance of making decisions during publicly accessible open meetings and encouraged the use of email for predominately scheduling and putting ideas on the agenda.

The members identified a number of issues they would like to pursue over the coming months, including:

Existing Frameworks for Determining Need

  • What are the existing frameworks in place?
  • How are needs captured? What needs are not captured by current frameworks?
  • What are considered to be the solutions? If we compare other solutions for storm water and waste water, how will that affect funding needs?
  • Importance of evaluating the baseline, to centralize and make publicly accessibly information that already exists in many disparate places

Existing Frameworks: EPA  Needs Study

  • What affects do the widely varying workforces have on its compilation
  • Importance of educating towns about this process and raising their awareness of its impact on funding.

Improvements to Determining Need

  • Are there changes that DEP would like to make but are unable to due to staffing, statute or funding?
  • Should/How can storm water, ground water be addressed

Longterm Regulatory concerns

  • Perhaps changing interpretation of current law rather than developing new laws
  • Including greater flexibility to look at innovative technology is of interest to some, but there is concern about ability to certify that it will work up to the federal standards.
  • Perhaps explore demo projects and other state efforts

Clean Water Act Reauthorization

  • Need to watch for what is included, could change the framework moving forward in dramatic ways

Funding

  • Identify history of funding for water infrastructure in MA from SRF, show dramatic change
  • Importance of identifying all streams of funding available
  • Need to tell the positives about how MA is utilizing federal funding

Implications if Need is Not Met

  • Importance of defining in terms that the consumer will understand

Refining the Working Group’s Charge

  • Importance of this section for making the case for the rest of the report, build case that the public can understand
  • Importance of creating a broad overview
  • Create an accessible synthesis of current needs assessment, give a picture of current system
  • Suggest improvements to assessment of needs
  • Define implications of inaction in terms that consumers will appreciate

Steve Silveira was invited by the Chair to address the working group to discuss his experiences as Chair of the Transportation Finance Commission and to offer advice as this working group begins its work.

  • Emphasized the importance and difficulty of winnowing down topics to create a report that will be useful
  • Suggested consideration of who the audience will be when considering topics and level of depth
  • Noted that historical view to help bring readers along in the narrative may be helpful

It was agreed that the next meeting of the Working Group would be held on October 20th following the full Commission’s public hearing in Westborough at 10am.

The Chair will develop an outline/framework based on the thoughts and themes presented to be delivered to members before the next meeting.  Members were asked to submit any pertinent articles or studies to the group.

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