2007-06-14 / News

Water board refuses to reconsider Jamestown's non-compliance designation

By Dotti Farrington

The State Water Resource Board voted Tuesday 6 to 1 to rule the Jamestown Water Department in non-compliance for not submitting an acceptable five-year water management plan as required by state law. The board in May asked its staff and Public Drinking Water Protection Committee to reconsider substitution of a less negative deficiency rating, but the staff and committee again called for noncompliance status.

Board leaders, in reviewing the Jamestown and other reports, emphasized the rating reflects mainly on documentation of planning and assuring water quantity. They specified the rating is not a reflection on operation, water quality or customer service.

The board vote was taken after Jamestown Town Administrator Bruce Keiser and Pare Engineering consultant Brenda Ennis asked the board again for the deficiency rating. In February, Ennis asked for the deficiency rating, instead of the pending non-compliance rank. Town Water Department Director Steven Goslee also attended but did not address the board.

Keiser said the non-compliance designation was an "undeserved black eye" for the town's water system. He said it was unwarranted in view of the fine reputation Jamestown has established, especially for aggressive conservation efforts.

State officials agreed that the rating was an "unfortunate black eye" and that Jamestown has earned high marks for its work otherwise. They maintained that state law gives them no options. They said the Jamestown submission had substantial data shortcomings and did not qualify for the deficiency rating intended for minor defects.

Keiser, Ennis and Goslee spoke with staff members before the meeting. Keiser reviewed for the board what he called state staff errors. He said the state gave no notice to the town before April 18. He said state evaluation reflected misinterpretations and reliance on an inaccurate number.

Keiser challenged the staff report about Jamestown Shores having a potential need for town water and he described town work to offset high density there. He said the town Comprehensive Plan of Development said town water might be needed if development continued unchecked. Keiser emphasized the town never planned to provide town water there.

Ennis proposed the report defi- ciencies "do not rise to the level of glaring omissions." The town suggested the bad rating was "heavy handed."

State officials did not respond specifically to Keiser's or Ennis' comments. The state staff detailed 11 concerns in a 16 page report. It listed, among other deficiencies that the town did not explain decrease of safe reservoir yields, did not report on the new water treatment plant under design, and did not update water quality protection. Keiser did not refer to those items in his presentation to the board.

Non-compliance status allows the town one year to provide the data. Keiser and Ennis said the town could and would provide the data in 90 days, as would have been allowed under a deficiency rating. The report deadline, as previously extended, was November 2006.

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