2006-09-21 / Front Page

Council to re-look at water regs' impact on island business

By Dotti Farrington

Sitting as the Board of Water and Sewer Commissioners Monday, the Town Council directed Town Administrator Bruce Keiser to evaluate the municipal water regulations in terms of dealing with such potential businesses as health care providers.

The need for possible changes in the water regulations was a response to the efforts of Gail Sheahan who is trying to find a location to build a day-care center for elderly people, especial those who may have Alzheimer's disease. She withdrew her petition to allow such a facility on North Main Road at Luther Street because of rules that may over-estimate the amount of water needed for such an operation. She said she would continue to try to locate such a facility in Jamestown at a location where current water regulations can be met.

Meanwhile, Keiser and the council acknowledged that water regulations were written at a time that data about needs of such health-care facilities did not exist. They said the town needs to seek out such information and determine how it is related to the water regulations.

The rules were drafted to reflect the need to conserve the town's limited water supply, and the regulations reflect limits mainly in terms of existing residential data.

Preliminary data suggests some proposals, such as Sheahan's plan, require less water than ordinary residential use but the rules do not provide for such variations.

Council Vice President Julio DiGiando suggested that the water regulations need to accommodate some new proposals. Keiser said that the town does need to work on some possible rule changes, especially for "desired social services."

Council President David Long asked Keiser to keep the matter on the agenda "so it does not get lost."

Water bills

The board again reviewed the request by Ed Gromada of Lawn Avenue for a reduction in his bill for water lost by a malfunction of his in-ground lawn watering system. Gromada claims the water regulations are inconsistent, his system was not illegal, and his bill was too high.

Councilman William Kelly called Gromada's positions "absurd" and the others councilors agreed.

Kelly said even if the system were legal, which it is not, homeowners remain responsible for any part of a water system on their property, starting from the connection to the water main in the street. He also said the matter represented "another case of a user badgering" Public Works Director Steven Goslee.

The town administrator reported at least a dozen cases on record of homeowners' water systems malfunctioning and the town being steadfast on its rules that the water bill must be paid, even in cases of legal uses that malfunctioned.

Councilor Barbara Szepatowski said she and Councilman Michael Schnack were told by Goslee that he told Gromada that he could not have an underground watering system. "Whether it's intentional or accidental use of water, in every case, the bill is paid," she said.

The board voted 3-0 to enforce payment of the Gromada bill and have the system disconnected from the municipal water supply. On the advice of Associate Town Solicitor A. Lauriston Parks, DiGiando did not participate in the discussion or vote on the matter because his son installed the watering system for Gromada. Schnack was absent from the meeting.

Goslee report

Goslee's monthly report was delivered by the town administrator because Goslee is attending the annual conference this week of the New England Water Works Board in Danvers, Mass.

Keiser said North Pond reservoir remains at near capacity and there are no concerns about water supply this season, and no additional conservation measures need to be implemented. He also reported that turbidity remains problematic, as reported at previous meetings, and there can be no improvement until the new water treatment plant is put on line.

Goslee's written report included a review of the work on the installation of the second water storage tank on Howland Avenue. He said eight of 12 plates that will create the tank were in place, and that the tank roof, which has been fabricated on the ground, was due to be hoisted into place as one unit. No date for that work was given in his report. Goslee also noted that individual house services in the neighborhood would be replaced to accommodate the impact of water from the new tank.

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