Fire District Board Plans for the Future

by Cheryl Luther Michaels, Community Journalist

EAST HARDWICK – The monthly meeting of the East Hardwick Fire District #1 (EHFD#1) was held on November 8, over Zoom. The virtual room was packed with 15 attendees.In addition to the six trustees, the fire chief and four community members, the meeting was joined by three guests. These included Joshua Lochhead and Meagan Cummings of the Vermont Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), whose mission includes monitoring public water supplies, and Elizabeth Emmons of the Dufresne Group, consulting engineers.
In a state inspection of the reservoir, the springs were found to be contaminated by tree roots and in May the state ordered the EHFD#1 to continuously chlorinate the water until the springs could be repaired. Because there is no electricity to the site, the water board is feeding the chlorine in a manual process that has been approved by the state as a temporary measure. 
The guests were present to talk about an asset management loan which will be forgiven if a list of parameters are met within five years. This is part of the Water Infrastructure Financing Programs offered by the state of Vermont through the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund. Lochhead explained how to obtain the loan and the criteria for forgiveness. This criteria includes asset management training, system mapping, a risk assessment, schedules for operations and maintenance, a mission statement and completing inventory and asset management plans. 
It was explained that the programs completion will give the EHFD#1 priority standing for grants and financing to replace equipment.
A motion to apply for this loan was unanimously passed. The Dufresne Group, who will manage the program, was given the go-ahead to write an engineering services agreement for review. 
In other business, it was reported that the two water leaks on Church Street are repaired. Doug Casavant was thanked for his work on this. Board member Randy Thompson reported that average daily usage dropped to 12,000-13,000 gallons per day from nearly 26,000 gallons a day after the leaks were repaired. Thompson also reported that the recent bacterial sample was good and that he has submitted a draft Operations and Maintenance Manual to the state for review.
As regards system mapping, board member Gary Michaels reported that on November 2, he and Thompson met with Marco Rossi, of CAI and Paul Sistito from Vermont Rural Water. CAI is the mapping data company that provides the town of Hardwick with the computer mapping system they use for the town maps. The outline of a plan to map the East Hardwick distribution system was developed. Michaels recommended the mapping effort be deferred to next spring to give the board time to investigate grant opportunities, and also pending discussion with the town manager about the town’s ability to update the system.
Trustee John Mandeville reported an estimate of $5,710 from Manosh Corporation in Morrisville to clean up the root problems in the springs. A motion was made to accept the Manosh estimate and to schedule the work in the spring.
Mandeville also reported that, subsequent to the board’s decision to divide the secretary’s position into secretarial and accounting tasks, a bookkeeper has been hired and Giovanna Zaccaria is working to transition the member list, contact information and billing data. The board discussed having a board member take over the secretarial responsibilities and agreed to pursue this at the by-law meeting on November 19. 
Also discussed was the River Street Land Survey and the need to consult an attorney to file deeded rights of ways for the two properties at the end of the street and an easement for the O’Brien’s septic.  Mandeville will take actions to move forward on the River Street issues.  
David O’Brien reported that the EHFD’s supplies have been moved from Ed Keene’s garage and there was a discussion about building some reserve inventory for emergencies. Casavant agreed to supply a short list of parts, shutoffs and valves that should be on hand.