Water Infrastructure Investment
Specific Water Systems Analysis
The water systems assessment included the desktop data crunching provided in the matrix of drinking water systems data as well as outreach to water system managers. RCAP Solutions emailed or faxed an introductory letter (from WCCOG Executive Director Judy East and NMDC Senior Planner Jay Kamm) to each water system containing the respective system’s information asking for comments. Further, RCAP Solutions phoned five of nine short-listed systems for direct contact. From discussions and feedback, the matrix of water systems data is correct.
Training and Technical Assistance
Caribou Utility District
The Caribou Utility District ranks highest in all benchmark categories. The utility serves 60% of the town population or 5000 people through 1805 connections. Current annual user rates of $248.40 were adjusted in the last 5 years. Although management is periodically raising rates, the utility may not strictly qualify for grant or principal forgiveness funding since the rates are only 0.8% of the town MHI.
The District delivers water from 2 gravel wells which has adequate source protection. The system reported 20% unaccounted-for water. However, the district does not have inferior pipe material in the system.
System assets have been depreciated 43% which is above the mean (38%) of the systems in the study. This may reflect overall system aging and capital improvements within the next 20 years.
Based upon the current source and plant capacities along with consumption, the utility could accommodate an additional 22,000 people. Given the current system population, the utility sets the study mean regarding long-term debt per connection ($2076). Recent loans in 2007 and 2012 reflect active system asset management. They are currently on the 2014 State Revolving Fund list to paint two of their four storage tanks.
Ashland Water and Sewer District
Ashland Water and Sewer District serves water to 55% of the town or 808 people through 321 connections. The utility scores low in the finance section. Their rates are only 0.8% of the town Median Household Income and have not made an adjustment in over 5 years. Their assets depreciation is 47% which may mean system aging and capital improvement needed yet their last capital improvement loan of record is 2006. However, they have a high Long Term Debt to connections of $1878. Based upon source and plant capacities, the utility could accommodate an additional 2963 people.
Island Falls Water Department
The Island Falls Water District serves 72% of the town or 570 people through 200 connections. The system is short of excess source capacity to their overbuilt plant. This may be due to the very high unaccounted for water (51%). They also score low in source protection. Additionally, there is only one operator/superintendent. However, based upon source and plant capacities, the water system could accommodate an additional 4612 people. The town recently improved their aging infrastructure (pipe replacement) with a $1Million loan in 2011. The system scored well financially.
Eagle Lake Water and Sewer District
The Eagle Lake Water and Sewer District serves 83% of the town or 683 people through 242 connections. The District scores low in the finance section with Long Term Debt per connection at $5337 and an operating cost of $345 per person. The utility rate ($210) is below the study median (256) although the Median Household Income to rate ratio (0.9%) approaches the median (1%), the system is does not strictly qualify for grant or principal forgiveness funding.
Madawaska Water District
The Madawaska Water District serves 62% of the town or 2853 people through 1127 connections. The District has moderately high unaccounted for water (28%) along with asbestos/transite pipe. This indicates some pipe replacement is necessary. However, the Long Term Debt per connection is above the study mean at $3215 along with an operating cost per person at $259. Based upon the current source and plant capacities along with consumption, the utility could accommodate an additional 4858 people. Rate increase in 2009 and the 2010 State Revolving Fund loan indicate the trustees are actively managing the 60 year old system.
Baileyville Utilities District
The Baileyville Utilities District serves 86% of the town or 1444 people through 722 connections. Industrial user category accounts for 39% of the sales. This industrial use may account for the high 485 gallons of average daily production (ADP) per person. There is only 1.5 days of storage which is 30% of the study mean. With a plant design capacity only 1.5 times the ADP and somewhat low storage capacity, growth opportunities could be limited. The District calculates 10% unaccounted for water and no asbestos/transite pipe however 43% of their system assets have been depreciated. This may indicate that although their system is in good working order, it is aged. There is concern that the District may not have recently replaced critical assets since the last rate adjustment was 2009 and the LT Debt is relatively low at $526 per connection. Additionally, the last federal funding improvement assistance was in 1997 although the District could have made enhancements through other funding opportunities.
Calais Water District
The Calais Water District serves 75% of the town or 2570 people through 1123 connections. The District has outsourced the operations to an engineering firm. The water source is from two groundwater wells with high source protection vulnerability. Calais has a plant capacity of only 600,000 gallons per day with an average daily production (ADP) of 300,000 gallons which may limit the District to growth. However, the system calculates 4% unaccounted for water, has no asbestos/transite pipe and a very low 117 gallons per day per person; the assets only have been depreciated 22% which indicates a good working system. The user rates, last adjustment in 2006, show a 0.9% of the town’s Median Household Income. This low ratio could hinder the District from obtaining favorable federal funding.
Passamaquoddy Water District
The Passamaquoddy Water District serves 83% of the towns of Eastport and Pleasant Point through 765 connections. The water source is a pond about 18 miles north of Eastport and can supply over double the plant capacity. Although the gallons per day usage per person is 132 gallons, the plant design is only two times the average daily production (ADP). It is the plant design that limits the District to major growth opportunities. Surface water treatment is a challenge for the District operations. The system has only 8% unaccounted for water and only 17% of their assets depreciated; there is a very high LT Debt per connection of $4258. These numbers reflect that the District have been actively replacing pipe, hydrants and valves. An 81% residential user category is 10% above the study mean.
Machias Water District
The Machias Water District serves 57% of the town or 1350 people through 537 connections from two groundwater wells. The utility calculates only 9% unaccounted for water and has no asbestos/transite pipe but 48% of their assets have been depreciated. The plant design is undersized at only 1.8% of the average daily production (ADP). The District’s last reported rate adjustment was in 2006 and their user rates are 1% of the town’s Median Household Income. The $44 LT Debt per connection is very low. With 53% low to moderate income households, the system is projected to have room to increase rates to cover capital improvements to the plant if a growth opportunity warrants.
Lubec Water District
The Lubec Water District serves 95% of the town or 1568 people through 545 connections through 3 groundwater wells. Only 83 gallons per day per person usage is puzzling because the District calculates 60% unaccounted for water. The system’s age is reflected by the 72% depreciation of their assets. The utility’s plant design is oversized 4.6 times the average daily production (ADP). However, source capacity of the three gravel wells is only 153 gallons per minute. Consequently, the limiting factor to growth opportunities may be system’s age and source capacity. The $26 Long Term Debt per connection is the lowest for a system of this size. Although the system seems to have the potential to correct critical issues, the rates have not been raised since 2009 which could be due to a population compsed of 61% low to moderate income households.