R.S. signs con­tract with Ch­ester Wa­ter Au­thor­ity

An­tic­i­pated growth could de­crease fu­ture costs

Cecil Whig - - FRONT PAGE - By JANE BELLMYER

jbellmyer@ce­cil­whig.com

— The mayor and com­mis­sion­ers have for­mally en­tered into an agree­ment with Ch­ester Wa­ter Au­thor­ity to bring wa­ter to the town.

Dur­ing a spe­cial meet­ing on Wed­nes­day night, the town board for­mal­ized the agree­ment with CWA, adopted a res­o­lu­tion con­cern-

RIS­ING SUN

ing wa­ter rate in­creases, dis­cussed fund­ing sources for the es­ti­mated $10 mil­lion project and con­sid­ered var­i­ous routes to bring the wa­ter into town.

As part of the process of con­nect­ing to CWA, the town board adopted a res­o­lu­tion spell­ing out a 10-year sched­ule of rate in­creases, which Joe Ma­son, a fi­nan­cial con­sul­tant with Daven­port & Com­pany called “a worst case sce­nario.”

He told the board that rates would have to in­crease 6 per­cent next year, 16 per­cent in 2018 and 2019, 14 per­cent the next two years and then 5 per­cent each year from 2022 to 2025. For the av­er­age user of 1,000 gal­lons, this means the rate will in­crease from the cur­rent $9.25 to $21.90 by 2025.

Ma­son tem­pered that sched­ule by ad­ding that with the new wa­ter sup­ply, Ris­ing Sun could lift its 10-year-old build­ing mora­to­rium.

“New hook ups are $8,000 each (for wa­ter and sewer). A lit­tle bit of growth goes a right far dis­tance,” he said,

ad­ding that new cus­tomers would share the ex­pense and change that rate sched­ule.

Brian Leis­hear, the Ris­ing Sun com­mis­sioner in charge of wa­ter and sewer, agreed not­ing that “in­fra­struc­ture fu­els eco­nomic de­vel­op­ment.”

“The pic­ture Joe (Ma­son) painted for the rates, they’re high, but it’s as­sum­ing no more growth and no more grant money,” Leis­hear said. “We know there’s going to be growth. We know there’s going to be houses. Peo­ple are ready to put shov­els in the ground, but the in­fra­struc­ture has to be there.”

Com­mis­sioner Dave War­nick in­di­cated that the town al­ready has cus­tomers wait­ing to con­nect to the new wa­ter sup­ply, in­clud­ing as many as 14 houses out­side town lim­its.

“These are the South­ern States houses,” War­nick Cecil County Coun­cil­man Dan Sch­neck­en­burger ad­dresses the mayor and com­mis­sion­ers of Ris­ing Sun, con­grat­u­lat­ing them on en­ter­ing into an agree­ment with Ch­ester Wa­ter Au­thor­ity to pro­vide wa­ter to the town.

said, re­fer­ring to a con­sent de­cree is­sued by the Mary­land De­part­ment of the En­vi­ron­ment in 2008 due to high ni­trate lev­els in res­i­den­tial wells on Wil­son and Tele­graph roads.

Cecil County Coun­cil­man

Dan Sch­neck­en­burger, gave the mayor and com­mis­sion­ers his sup­port for the project, ad­ding he aims to help the town pare down the bill.

“There is sig­nif­i­cant in­ter­est in this town,” he said. “I’ve had con­ver­sa­tions with the gov­er­nor’s of­fice and sev­eral de­part­ments, and I am en­cour­aged that we’ll be able to find more grant money.”

Ris­ing Sun has al­ready ap­plied for a $1 mil­lion grant from the U.S. De­part­ment of Agri­cul­ture. In­cluded in the res­o­lu­tions passed Wed­nes­day night were re­funds and re­bates aimed at re­turn­ing $1.8 mil­lion of the costs to the town.

At­tor­ney Michael Klein, le­gal coun­sel to the town for the project, said $1.2 mil­lion of that rep­re­sents po­ten­tial Penn­syl­va­nia cus­tomers for CWA. The rest is a re­im­burse­ment from the au­thor­ity for a change in the size of the wa­ter line from 16-inch mains in Penn­syl­va­nia to the 12-inch main in Mary­land.

“There’s also re­stric­tions in the agree­ment that Ch­ester Wa­ter can­not use the pipe­line to come into Mary­land and com­pete with Ris­ing Sun,” Klein said. “If CWA de­cides to put in an­other Mary­land line, in the first 10 years, it can’t come within 12 miles of Ris­ing Sun town hall.”

Also in­tro­duced at the Wed­nes­day night spe­cial meet­ing were a pair of or­di­nances to fund the es­ti­mated $10 mil­lion project. As it did with the waste­water treat­ment plant, Ris­ing Sun will get a bond an­tic­i­pa­tion note, sim­i­lar to a home con­struc­tion loan, for the con­struc­tion phase. Jay Gullo, town at­tor­ney, said the note would not ex­ceed $12 mil­lion. Once com­pleted the note, would be con­verted to a long-term, low-in­ter­est rate USDA loan.

Ma­son said the town has been given in­di­ca­tions that they will get the 40-year loan at 1.625 per­cent.

“That’s an ex­tra low rate for an ex­tremely long time,” Ma­son said.

The part­ner­ship with CWA has been in the works for sev­eral years, ever since Ris­ing Sun first be­gan dis­cussing what to do about its wa­ter sup­ply.

The town had nu­mer­ous op­tions to con­sider, ac­cord­ing to Ryan Flickinger with KCI En­gi­neer­ing. The first op­tion was to do noth­ing. Also among the op­tions was to con­nect to nearby towns, drill new wells or con­nect to CWA. Flickinger said the “do noth­ing” op­tion and new wells were taken off the table.

“The aquifers the town has to drill into does not have the re­turn,” he ex­plained.

Bor­row­ing from an anal­ogy of­fered ear­lier in the meet­ing by Calvin Bo­nen­berger, town ad­min­is­tra­tor, Flickinger said a bowl only holds a cer­tain amount of wa­ter and no amount of straws in the bowl is going to change that.

“You can’t drill five more wells. It doesn’t work like that,” he said, ad­ding that by drilling ad­di­tional wells, the sup­ply to other wells in the same aquifer is de­pleted.

CWA cur­rently has a re­dun­dancy, which means the town would get its al­lot­ted wa­ter, Flickinger noted. The au­thor­ity draws from both the Susque­hanna River and Oc­toraro Reser­voir. Un­der the terms of the agree­ment, Ris­ing Sun would ini­tially draw 340,000 gal­lons per day. The quan­tity could be ad­justed ev­ery five years with the max­i­mum draught at 1.8 mil­lion gal­lons per day.

Con­cerns were raised about the amount of pres­sure on the town’s ag­ing net­work of un­der­ground dis­tri­bu­tion pipes when the CWA wa­ter flows to town. Flickinger said there would be an alti­tude valve on the wa­ter tower to pre­vent over­flow.

“If not that, then there would be a pres­sure re­duc­tion valve to avoid ex­cess pres­sure com­ing into town,” he said.

Flickinger also noted that, as the town grows, there would be a need for a sec­ond wa­ter stor­age tower.

“Stor­age is a func­tion of growth,” he said.

The town, at the re­quest of the Com­mu­nity Fire Com­pany of Ris­ing Sun, will also in­ves­ti­gate ad­ding fire hy­drants to the sys­tem.

The board is con­sid­er­ing two pro­pos­als for the route the wa­ter would take once it crosses the Mary­land line. One de­sign is a fairly straight shot from the state line along Red Pump Road end­ing near the Sev­enth Day Ad­ven­tist Church on North Wal­nut Street. The sec­ond de­sign takes more turns and ends at the wa­ter tower off Colo­nial Way.

“It has bet­ter hy­draulics, but there’s more con­struc­tions, higher costs and more dis­tur­bance in town,” Flickinger said.

Leis­hear pub­licly ac­knowl­edged the stress that the is­sue has put him un­der.

“I worry about not hav­ing enough wa­ter to meet daily de­mand,” he said. “What would we do if we have a drought or a leak or if one of our large wells fails? The hon­est truth is we don’t have enough wa­ter and it feels good to say it.”

How­ever, for­mer mayor Robert Fisher re­peated his claim that wells are the right di­rec­tion. In a let­ter Fisher de­liv­ered to town hall Mon­day, he stated that the cost of the wa­ter line was dou­ble the town’s es­ti­mate, pro­vid­ing wa­ter Ris­ing Sun may never need.

“I be­lieve that there is a high prob­a­bil­ity, that we may never need the ex­tra (wa­ter), as we can build 550 units with the ex­ist­ing wells,” the let­ter read.

Af­ter read­ing the let­ter into the record, Leis­hear turned to Flickinger and sought his opin­ion of Fisher’s claim that four new wells could be drilled for $1.4 mil­lion.

“Two con­struc­tion firms al­ready priced it at over $2 mil­lion per well and well house,” Flickinger said, ad­ding. “Four wells is closer to $10 mil­lion.”

Echo­ing a mes­sage re­peated nu­mer­ous times at town meet­ings, Com­mis­sioner Joe Shep­hard said the is­sue had been stud­ied long enough.

“We’ve gone through tons of stud­ies. We’ve done our due dili­gence,” he said, ad­ding the wa­ter de­bate had robbed ev­ery­one on the board of sleep.

With agree­ments signed, de­sign and per­mit­ting will fol­low. Ris­ing Sun’s board hopes to have shov­els in the ground a year from now.

CECIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

Michael Klein, le­gal coun­sel for Ris­ing Sun for its wa­ter and sewer ne­go­ti­a­tions, ex­plains how the town ar­rived at its con­tract with Ch­ester Wa­ter Au­thor­ity.

CECIL WHIG PHOTO BY JANE BELLMYER

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