WG3: December 7th, 2010 Minutes

Commonwealth of Massachusetts
Water Infrastructure Finance Commission
Working Group Three
Approved minutes: December 7, 2010 at 10 pm Room 511 State House

In a meeting duly posted, Working Group Three (innovative water systems, technologies, and infrastructure) convened at approximately 10 am in Room 511 of the State House.

Members Attending:  Ned Bartlett, Chair; Rep Dykema, Tom Walsh, Becky Smith, Robert Zimmerman, Dave Terry

Also attending:  Leah Robins, Brendan Jarboe, Heather Bell

The minutes from September and October meetings of the working group were approved, provided that the list of attendees at the September meeting reflect Commission members and visitors in attendance.

The group discussed how to organize suggestions and feedback from the Public Hearings. The minutes from these hearings are now located on the Water Infrastructure Finance Commission webpage.

The group discussed the role of the Commission in evaluating innovative technologies. There are sources of information on current types of innovative technology, including a list compiled in a UMass Amherst publication, from the Pennsylvania Water Infrastructure report and from various comments at the MA Infrastructure public hearings. The group decided that raising recommendations for procedures rather than listing and evaluating technologies should be the group’s role and the focus of the report. However, vignettes could be used in the report to highlight examples of innovative technologies and why evaluation criteria should be in place.

Group Three discussed and refined the list of six items developed at the September 13 meeting and the Evaluation Criteria spreadsheet developed by Ned Bartlett.  The six items from the September 13 meeting have been edited as follows:

Watershed Management Approach.  The planning and management of water infrastructure should be done on a watershed basis, rather than along political boundaries.

  1. Decentralized Infrastructure with Centralized Management.  In order to increase economies, decentralized infrastructure should be centrally managed on a regional/watershed basis.
  1. Risk Management.  Greater adoption of innovative technologies require managing regulatory compliance and third party litigation to eliminate economic risk to the regulated community in the instance of failure.
  1. Economic Value of Innovative or “Green Technologies”.  While environmental and public health benefits are very important, the economics of a transition to innovative or “green technologies” will result in widespread adoption if it can be demonstrated that these technologies have value and are more resilient.
  1. Systematic Approach to Demonstration Projects.  That this Committee, through the Water Infrastructure Finance Commission, seek a program for financial assistance to evaluate and test demonstration projects of innovative technologies for application.
  1. Challenges of Home Rule.  This Committee recognizes that Massachusetts Home Rule, and potentially other Commonwealth laws, impede the above goals.

Discussion around the six points has been noted below:

  1. Comments from the public hearings indicate that educating the public on what a watershed is will be a priority for the report. If the watershed approach is mentioned in the report, an explanation of the concept should be included. The report will contain regulatory and non-regulatory solutions and education can be one of these non-regulatory solutions.
  1. The idea of regionalization speaks to the concerns raised by municipalities at the public hearing about the issue of cost.
  1. Approving innovative technologies is now at the discretion of agencies such as the DEP and EPA. There is documentation on the current evaluation process for innovative wastewater systems, as well as national regulation for drinking water and Dave Terry will look into the regulations for stormwater. Recommendations for legal changes in the approval process for innovative technology may be part of the report.
  1. “Cheaper” was changed in the text of this principle to value.
  1. The group discussed potential legal and other recommendations to evaluate innovative technology. The group also discussed having evaluation criteria before and after the project is implemented, as well as a process and goals for the process and creating a group that evaluates the applications. The example of some European countries that put the onus of testing the technologies effectiveness on the entity that would profit from its development was also discussed as a potential funding idea. Other funding ideas, such as the MA Tech Collaborative and the Clean Energy Center were mentioned.
  1. Ned will call Paul to hear his thoughts on the 6th principle

Members then discussed and revised the spreadsheet developed by Ned Bartlett and discussed the following three ideas as main principles guiding evaluation criteria of innovative technology:

  • Restoration of surface waters and sustainability for human consumption and demand
  • Watershed Management Approach
  • Decentralized Infrastructure with Centralized Management

Tom Walsh will circulate a draft write-up of these principles for the next meeting.

The group also decided that the following issues should serve as evaluation criteria and Tom Walsh and Ned Bartlett will circulate a draft write-up of these criteria for the next meeting.

  • Risk Management
  • Economic, Social, and Ecological Value of Innovative of Green Technologies
  • Systematic Approach to Demonstration Projects
  • Challenges of Existing Law
  • Funding

Categories of innovative technology:

  • Integration of renewable energy sources into water infrastructure
  • Technologies that promote water reuse
  • Energy Efficiency/smart grid technology

Becky Smith will look into smart grid technology and report back to the group.

Evaluation Criteria

  • Change of law required? (Statute; regulation; both)
  • Cost
  • Effectiveness
  • Replicability/Ease of Deployment
  • Already in use in USA (Y/N)
  • Use(s) (s=stormwater; ww=wastewater; dw=drinking water)

Becky Smith and Bob Zimmerman will work on a preamble and will circulate at the next meeting.

Becky Smith has recommended Ed Clerico to address the working group, and suggested a larger audience for his talk on reuse systems. It was suggested he be scheduled for January during a full meeting and should submit written documentation for the group as well.

The next working group meeting is December 14th.

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