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Deer Isle, Isle au Haut and Stonington, Maine.
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by Alice Wilkinson
Bill Olver, president of Olver Associates of Winterport, had a lot of suggestions for the Stonington Water Company at its February 25 meeting.
Because of a series of problems involving missing water, the Stonington Water Company contracted with Olver to do a survey and make some suggestions, for a one-time price of $1,000. Olver passed out a 15-page preliminary report and will bring the final report in two weeks.
Implementing the suggestions is up to the water company, and directors are free to use whatever company they wish. Further, Olver is willing to write grant applications for the water company for the standard fee, which comes out of whatever grant is gotten.
Some of the “missing” water has been found. Three water company consumers have been responsible for a loss of about 5,000 gallons a day, the result of their running water to keep lines from freezing. According to Water Company Superintendent Roger Stone, they were running too much water. Apparently a stream the width of a pencil will keep a line from freezing. Because one of the users had installed a line before the meter, the amount used was undetected. It is not known if other people have been using un-metered water. Olver pointed out that taking water before it is metered is stealing.
The preliminary report from Olver surveyed five years of water company records, and he says the water company has been losing water for a long time. The usual amount of missing water in a small system is around 15 percent; the Stonington Water Company has been consistently losing between 30 and 60 percent.
The report listed several possible reasons, almost all related to the age of the system. Water meters lose accuracy as do the meters registering how much water is pumped out of a well.
Further, some of the problems could be the age of the pipes, some of which are 100 years old. Old pipes made of cast iron are prone to leakage and breaks.
Olver talked about “mass balance,” which comes down to the idea that water pumped from the wells should equal water in the standpipe; water metered should equal water pumped. That is not happening at the Stonington Water Company, and some of the solutions he suggests include finding out the actual pumping rates of each well, which includes knowing the designed capacity for each pump.
It is also possible that the pumps themselves are not working up to capacity because they are either worn or slightly plugged with organic material. The piping itself can fill with scale. Olver suggested severing ties with the pond, including removing an overflow pipe from the tank that holds the water from the wells before it is pumped up to the standpipe. He said that it would be better to just let excess water in the clear-water tank run out over the ground.
The board was also presented with an asset inventory, developed by Art Astarita of the Rural Community Assistance Partnership. That inventory lists 17 items which should be replaced, including about 10 that are considered “high risk,” meaning they need immediate attention.
There are hydrants which have no automatic shut-off valves, so if something should hit the hydrant, the water will come spouting out until Stone can get to the stand-pipe and shut off the whole system. The newer hydrants shut themselves off.
Also needed is a generator for the pumping equipment, so that the system will continue to pump water in a power outage. Otherwise once the standpipe is drained, that’s it for water.
Having been given all this information from two separate sources, the water company board who are also the selectmen decided to wait until after town meeting, when they will probably have a final report from Olver, before making any decisions.
One suggestion from Selectman Evelyn Duncan involved refinancing two loans, which she said should save about $1,000 a year in interest.
The selectmen’s meeting which followed the water company meeting was largely concerned with recommendations from the Harbor Committee.
One is that the fish pier no longer take waste from the dealers. The question of who will check arose, but there are cameras on the pier which are always on. Board Chairman George Stevens suggested putting a light over the dumpster. The concern was that dealers would continue to use the pier facility, especially when the harbormaster was not there.
Town Manager Kathleen Billings-Pezaris said, “This is a start…then we will work on enforcement.”
The selectmen agreed to keep the price of fuel on the pier at 10 cents over wholesale, but also decided that the price of delivered fuel would be reflected immediately. They said it is too cumbersome to check how much fuel at a lower or higher price is left in the tank before delivery.
Each selectman was sitting with a new town report in front of him. They will not be mailed, but are available for pick up at the town office.