12/10/2010

WG3 September 15 Minutes

Water Infrastructure Finance Commission
September 15, 2010
10:00 a.m.

The Group 3 – Innovative Water Systems, Technologies and Infrastructure sub-committee met at the Upper Blackstone Water Pollution Abatement District, Millbury, Massachusetts on September 15, 2010.

Those in attendance are noted below:

Working Group Members

Ned Bartlett

Representative Carolyn Dykema

Paul Niedzwicki

Martin Pillsbury Becky Smith

Thomas K. Walsh Robert Zimmerman

Guests :

Jessica Strunkin

Valerie Nelson

Paul Niman

The first order of business was election of officers. Through a unanimous vote of those present, Mr. Bartlett was elected as Chairman of the Committee and Mr. Zimmerman was elected as Vice Chairman/Clerk.

Meeting Dates – Upcoming meeting dates were reviewed and are as follows: September 20, 2010 – Full Commission Hearing

October 13, 2010 – Public Hearing, State House, 10am-2pm

October 20, 2010 – Public Hearing, Westborough Municipal Building, 10am – 2pm

General Business/Next Steps

Mr. Bartlett stated that at the July roundtable exercise priorities the committee would address at future meeting were set.  Subject matter included the potential to invite speakers and presenters from entities that could help the sub-committee within the task structure that is set in place regarding infrastructure issues.  It was stated that in inviting participants, a good balance should be obtained, to enable both sides of the issues to be discussed for the benefit of the committee.  The need to obtain credible sources and sound working principles to gather information on the topics at hand was discussed.  It was noted that publications and articles on issues to be discussed would be of benefit to the committee.  Mr. Bartlett suggested that all ideas relevant to the types of information to be discussed should be submitted to Mr. Pillsbury.

Mr. Walsh provided a list of the topics that were set by the Commission for the committee to consider. They are: Examples:

Smart Grid

Innovative Treatment programs

Energy efficiency and alternative energy

Watershed based planning

Climate Change

Decentralized systems

Reducing operations and maintenance costs

Reuse.

Of interest at this meeting were discussions on where participants feel things are headed with respect to water infrastructure and associated funding and what are thoughts on centralization v.s. decentralization.

Discussions took place relative to the need to look into innovative technology as well as looking at green alternatives as an additional innovative means to improve water and wastewater systems.  It was the consensus of the committee that aging water and wastewater lines cost cities and towns a great deal of money and as a country we cannot allow aging infrastructure.

The potential for the ability to utilize State Revolving Fund (SRF) loans as well as Stimulus and AARA federal money was reviewed.

Risks associated with use of innovative technologies and the related funding were also touched upon in discussion.

Members of the sub-committee discussed the need to set out a compelling vision on behalf of this group to cities and towns that would educate them on matters associated with infrastructure.  Because economic times are such as they are, at this point it is important to show communities how working toward positive approaches with infrastructure issues could save them money and show growth potential within the community.  The thought to try to move in a collaborative fashion with towns was discussed as a potential option as was the move toward some regional thought processes.  If this commission is to be successful the question was asked as to how do we explore the transition from where things are at this time to future infrastructure.

Discussions ensued relative to the fact that many infrastructure issues are regulated and driven by regulations of state and federal agencies.  In order to foster new ideas regulatory flexibility is necessary.  It was stated that Massachusetts is one of only four states in the country who has not yet accepted full delegation (primacy) of the Federal Clean Water Act.  Discussion ensued as to the pros and cons that this may have on the workings of any group or organization with infrastructure matters.

Regarding use of innovative technologies, municipalities are leery of taking risks because they must still meet permit conditions if the technology fails.  If innovative approaches are to be fostered, means of reducing the financial and regulatory/legal risks to those who choose the approach must be identified.

Prior to the next meeting Messrs. Bartlett and Zimmerman will work on preparing a draft listing of issues to be the focus of this group. Comments will be noted from all members.

Next Sub-Committee Meetings:

Tentatively September 28, 2010 1:00 pm State House – this committee meeting will piggyback the Full Commission meeting held earlier in the day.

October 13, 2010 – 1:00 pm – this meeting will follow a Public Hearing at the State House earlier in the day.

The meeting adjourned at 12:14 p.m.

Respectfully submitted,

Karen Boulay

District Clerk/Administrative Assistant UBWPAD

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