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WVN #300: New department director, water limits

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  • waylandvoters1
    Dear Wayland Voter, Wayland s new Department of Public Works now has a director. Also in this newsletter: -- The state wants more cuts in water usage, and new
    Message 1 of 1 , May 13, 2009
      Dear Wayland Voter,

      Wayland's new Department of Public Works now has a director.

      Also in this newsletter:

      -- The state wants more cuts in water usage, and new restrictions go into effect on June 1.

      -- The High School Building Committee seeks residents' ideas on plans for a new or renovated school.


      Don Ouellette assumes his duties as director of Wayland's new Department of Public Works on June 15. He was selected by the Town Administrator Fred Turkington from a field of three semifinalists, including Stephen Kadlik, director of the Wayland Highway Department.

      Ouellette starts at a salary of $93,710.

      Ouellette boasts nearly 30 years of civil engineering and management experience, including Army service. He has worked for Ayer, Medford and Nashua (NH). Most recently he was city engineer and DPW chief for Ashburnham, population 6,000. A licensed professional engineer in Massachusetts and New Hampshire since 1988, Ouellette has a bachelor's degree in civil engineering from the University of Maine and a master's in engineering management from Western New England College.

      How DPW Works

      The Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen advocated creating a DPW as a cost-saving measure. The argument is now largely that the DPW will save considerable money over the long term through the ability to have a flexible workforce and fewer department heads.

      The DPW, approved by voters last year, begins July 1, the start of the new fiscal year. It will encompass the Park, Highway, and Water Departments, as well as the Transfer Station, currently under the direction of the Board of Health.

      The scope of the DPW is considerably less than originally envisioned.

      The recreation portion of Park and Recreation evaded the DPW net because it is established as self-supporting through a revolving fee-supported fund.

      The Septage Committee is also not a part of DPW because the treatment facility is a self-supporting entity of both Wayland and Sudbury. Selectmen in both Sudbury and Wayland plan to decommission the plant, arguing that meeting stringent environmental standards could create unacceptable financial risks.

      In an initial cost-cutting measure, Park and Recreation Director Nancy McShea's salary is shared by Sudbury, as she is now in charge of the recreation department programs in both towns and because her previous responsibilities for Wayland field and facilities maintenance are to be assumed by the DPW.

      At the April annual Town Meeting, voters learned part of the reason for the Fiscal 2010 raise in Assistant Town Administrator John Senchyshyn's salary was "additional responsibilities" with the DPW. Salaries for the four individuals comprising the Town Office, which includes Senchyshyn, Turkington, and the executive assistant to Turkington and assistant to Human Resources, rose 13.25 percent to $356,500 from the allocated $314,800 in Fiscal 09. During Fiscal 09, expenditures were expected to exceed the allocation, for a total of $343,867.

      No doubt the Personnel Board will be busy with aspects of the DPW, as salary levels differ between departments, which presents an issue with the goal of having the work force cross-trained and flexible to pitch in where needed. For example, some Water Department employees will need to meet certain certification requirements.

      The budget in the annual Town Meeting warrant, Appendix D, projects initial savings from the DPW structure of $127,849 compared with the budget requests of the individual operations. Most of this is slated to come from the personnel line item. The figures include the recreation budget.

      The total Fiscal 2010 DPW/recreation budget, including personnel, services, utilities, supplies and debt is $5.77 million.

      Calculating Savings

      Any savings realized by the formation of a DPW should be viewed in a larger context of the additional fees levied on residents.

      For example, in the Fiscal 2006 budget, $500,000 from water department reserves was allocated to the town's general fund to reduce an override. The annual Town Meeting approved the motion, backed by the Finance Committee and Board of Selectmen.

      Now, the Water Department has levied a $236 annual surcharge on all users because it does not have adequate funds to pay debt on the first of two treatment plants. And there is another treatment plant on the drawing boards. The debt is assigned to the Water Department rather than to the town as a whole, hence the drain on residents' pockets.

      Another fee increase is the 31 percent increase in Fiscal 2009 Transfer Station fees to a full sticker price of $320.

      These two departments are part of the new DPW, but residents may be paying $300 or more in nondeductible fees. So are the "savings" real?

      The septage plant was originally part of the DPW plan, If the septage plant closes as projected, residents may pay more for pumping as trucks will have to travel farther, and possibly pay higher septage disposal fees. (On the other hand, the facility site could produce town revenue from a new use.)

      -- WVN Staff


      Wayland's water consumption needs further reduction, says Duane LeVangie, program manager of the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection Water Management Act Program.

      At a forum on the town's drinking water, cosponsored by the League of Women Voters and the town's Wellhead Protection Committee, attendees learned about DEP's plans to modify Wayland's Water Management Permit, the Water Department's efforts to deliver potable water, and how to have a lawn requiring little water.

      The state will review and modify Wayland's withdrawal permit in 2009 to include conditions requiring the town to meet a 65 gallons per day per person limit by 2014. In 2006 and 2007, the town used 87 gallons per capita and this was reduced to 70 gallons last year. The town will also be required to reduce the amount of unaccounted-for water from 16 percent last year to 10 percent.

      Leaky pipes are the biggest cause of unaccounted-for water.

      LeVangie explained that although the current water usage permit expires in 2011, the state will include the new standards in 2009 to complete a long overdue 5-year review of Wayland's permit. Other public water systems in the Concord River Basin will also have their permits modified in 2009 to include these standards and compliance deadlines.

      The state also will require that towns bill on a "full cost pricing" basis. Thus each household would pay the true cost of its water.

      Should Wayland not achieve these standards but demonstrate best management practices (BMPs), it may be allowed to exceed the 10 percent unaccounted-for water use limit and/or the 65 gallon per person limit. These BMPs include such things as limiting lawn irrigation, leak detection, metering, forbidding outdoor watering between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. and allowing only handheld watering except for new lawns. The town may restrict outdoor watering based on either a calendar approach or environmental conditions. Depending on which approach the town adopts, outdoor watering is limited to 1 or 2 days per week.

      The presentation may be found at:


      How did Wayland reduce its water use last year? The Water Department implemented restrictions early in the summer, and much of the summer was rainy. In addition, the number of private wells has increased in recent years.

      Wayland is in the Sudbury/Assabet/Concord river basin, which is categorized as undergoing medium stress. Although the DEP is concerned about the reserve of groundwater and the river flow, it is not required to track consumption by private wells producing less than 100,000 gallons per day.

      Wayland's Water

      Don Millette, general foreman for the Wayland Water Department, gave a historical overview of the development of the current system, starting in 1878. He faced questions from residents complaining about the "disgusting" appearance of water in homes during the hydrant flushing. To keep turbid water out of the house, residents can shut off the house water supply at night, he suggested.

      Basically, the department is playing catchup after years of minimal hydrant flushing. And the addition of the chemicals to soften the water so pipes don't corrode has caused buildup in the water mains. Around 1999 or 2000 the department began adding potassium hydroxide to raise the ph factor, making the water less acidic and therefore less corrosive. Soon after, Town Meeting voted to add fluoride, and then the department was required to chlorinate the system because beavers had been doing what beavers do, which had caused bacteria in the water at the Campbell well.

      That well has been shut down. Baldwin well #2 has a moderate/high risk of using contaminated surface water, and the Baldwin water has a great deal of naturally occurring iron and manganese, which is why the town is now building a filtration plant.

      Resident Tom Sciacca, who is in charge of the never-watered demonstration organic lawn at Mellen Common, advised attendees to mow high so the grass roots grow deep, and said an inch of water a week is all a lawn needs. This can be conveniently measured with a tunafish can.

      Another tip is to use corn gluten on lawns in spring to reduce crabgrass and weeds and plant new lawns only in the fall. Grass watering nearly doubles Wayland's water use in summer. For more information, see:


      WayCAM will broadcast the April 29 water forum on Wednesday May 13 at 7:05 p.m.

      -- Molly Upton


      The Water Department issued these restrictions on May 4, effective June 1 and remaining in effect until further notice:

      -- Outdoor watering is limited to hand watering only. Outdoor sprinkler devices, including in-ground systems, are prohibited.

      -- Hand watering hours are 7 p.m. to 7 a.m.




      The High School Building Committee will hold a public forum at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday May 19 at the Town Building on the next steps in plans for a renovated or rebuilt school.

      The committee will present an update and seek public comments.

      The HSBC hopes to present a "preferred option" to the Massachusetts School Building Authority by the end of the month.

      Further information: HSBC Chair Lea Anderson, 358-2667 or lea@...

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      Wayland Voters Network
      Michael Short, Editor
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