archives

Report ready as effects of “Drought of 2016” linger Council making steady progress on regional solutions, 10/21/2016

Governor advised of groundbreaking study, which identifies Sebago Lake and Saco River
as key state assets to regional water delivery and economic development, 1/28/09

Southern Maine Regional Water Council Elects Officers, 10/6/08

Southern Water Utilities One Step Closer To An Interconnected Water System, 7/23/07

Southern Maine Utilities Sign Mutual Aid Agreement, 10/12/06

Water Utilities Propose Bill That Embraces Regionalism, 3/17/05

News

Report ready as effects of “Drought of 2016” linger Council making steady progress on regional solutions, 1/21/16

As the worst drought in many years continues to impact Maine and the northeast United States, public water systems in the southern part of the state have released an updated report that significantly advances the opportunity of mutual aid between them.

“The current drought highlights the reality that water utilities in southern Maine can benefit in many ways from sharing water resources,” said Norm Labbe, President of the Southern Maine Regional Water Council (SMRWC). “We continually work to identify opportunities for regional cooperation that can lower costs for customers, and reduce the impact of environmental events and man-made events.”

The update issued by SMRWC follows a report the organization originally released eight years ago. The purpose of SMRWC’s 2008 study was to examine the region's water supplies, and “to create a framework for a combined distribution and supply system for southern Maine.” It identified Sebago Lake and the Saco River as bodies of water “that might be expanded as regional supplies are integrated into a regional supply system in the future.”

While the previous report addressed interconnections between water systems to serve the growing population of southern Maine, the update is a more specific technical review of how to accomplish that goal. To effectively use connections between public water systems from Portland to Kittery, a number of issues needed to be considered, including existing demands, distribution system capacities, hydraulic gradeline elevations, existing water treatment infrastructure and water chemistry. The updated study examines the most important of these issues, and concludes that other than expansion of certain infrastructure components, the most significant operational challenge to interconnecting the water systems is the differences in water treatment chemical regimens used by the different water systems.

Labbe said the new report is timely. Late last month, the federal Department of Agriculture classified five counties in southern Maine as disaster areas due to the continuing drought. This month, the Maine Public Utilities Commission voted unanimously to open an inquiry into how water utilities should manage responses to drought conditions.

The Council has made significant progress since it formed eleven years ago. Its members have collaborated on bulk purchasing of chemicals and other supplies, they’ve standardized specifications to make cooperation easier, shared GIS information, collaborated on how to lower costs to customers, and for the first time ever, all the member water utilities are now working from the same hydraulic master model of the southern coast region. Labbe said these are important steps toward advancing the mission of teamwork and mutual aid.

“In addition to easing the impact of a major drought, there are many other issues to think about when exploring regional connections, including population growth, future environmental concerns, climate change, firefighting capacity and cost efficiencies. This study is a key part of the roadmap for how to move forward,” he said.

The Southern Maine Regional Water Council includes Maine Water Company, Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District, Kittery Water District, Portland Water District, Sanford Water District, South Berwick Water District, and York Water District. It was formed in 2005 as a result of utility-sponsored legislation to encourage regional solutions for public water delivery. By sharing knowledge and enhancing cooperation, the Council aims to improve service to the region's public water customers. Combined, these seven utilities serve approximately 300,000 people in 23 communities, or 25% of Maine’s population.

On the web: Southern Maine Water Regional Council, www.smrwc.org Tata & Howard, www.TataAndHoward.com Portland Water District, www.pwd.org Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Wells Water District, www.kkw.org Maine Water Company, www.MaineWater.com York Water District, www.yorkwaterdistrict.org Kittery Water District, www.kitterywater.org Sanford Water District, www.sanfordwater.org South Berwick Water District, www.sbwd.org

Governor advised of groundbreaking study, which identifies Sebago Lake and Saco River
as key state assets to regional water delivery and economic development,
1/28/09

Maine – On Tuesday, February 3, the Southern Maine Regional Water Council (SMRWC) will present to Governor Baldacci a recently-completed study that identifies key state resources and outlines benefits of regional delivery of public water.

The SMRWC commissioned the study to gain a better understanding of the region's water supply and to determine if regionalization of public water is beneficial and feasible. 

The study projected future water needs and confirmed that Saco River and Sebago Lake are the only fresh water sources with sufficient capacity to serve the long term population and economic needs of the region.  While programs are in place to protect these supplies, the study identified additional measures to further protect these critical public resources.  The study, which was funded by a grant from the Maine Municipal Bond Bank, also evaluated and recommended regional governance models, interconnection and transmission routes, and additional collaborations to streamline costs.

Governor Baldacci applauded the efforts of the Southern Maine Regional Water Council members to come together for the purpose of protecting valuable state water resources.  “By developing a regional approach to the protection and delivery of critical public water supplies, the Council has made important strides to improve the quality of water service and reduce costs over the long haul,” stated the Governor.  “I look forward to reviewing the recommendations of the regional water study and working with the Regional Water Council as it works to implement the recommendations.”

“The SMRWC strongly supports a regional approach to assuring the long term sustainability of its public water supplies, and we are committed to working with the Governor’s Office and other stakeholders to ensure the preservation and protection of our key water supply sources,” commented SMRWC President Gary Lorfano, who also serves as President of the Portland Water District’s Board of Trustees.

The SMRWC was formed in 2005 with a goal to share knowledge, enhance cooperation, and improve service to the region’s public water customers. SMRWC members include: Biddeford & Saco Water Company; Kennebunk, Kennebunkport & Wells Water District; Kittery Water District; Portland Water District; Sanford Water District; South Berwick Water District; and York Water District.  Since its formation, SMRWC members have implemented a number of initiatives that have resulted in measurable cost savings to their customer base.

MEDIA ADVISORY & PHOTO OPPORTUNITY
What: Press Conference When:  Tuesday, February 3, 2009  1:30 p.m.
Where: Governor’s Cabinet Room, State House, Augusta ME
Who:  Governor Baldacci will comment on plan presented by Gary Lorfano,
president of the Southern Maine Regional Water Council

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Southern Maine Regional Water Council Elects Officers, 10/6/08

The Southern Maine Regional Water Council recently named its 2009 board officers. 

President
Gary Lorfano
Portland Water District
Trustee

Vice President
Don Neumann
York Water District
Superintendent

Treasurer
Christopher Mansfield
Biddeford & Saco Water Company
Vice President

Secretary
Guy Hodgdon
Kittery Water District
Assistant Superintendent

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Southern Water Utilities One Step Closer To An Interconnected Water System, 7/23/07

Recently the Southern Maine Regional Water Council received a $100,000 grant to develop a Regional Water System Master Plan.  The Council applied for and received the Maine Municipal Bond Bank grant designed to help local governments improve efficiencies and reduce costs.

Wright-Pierce, a Maine based engineering firm, was awarded a contract to do the work.  The plan will assess water resources, evaluate existing and proposed water system hydraulics, and recommend the design of new interconnections, water storage, and pumping facilities to accommodate the inter-system transport of water. In addition, the study will identify potential areas for collaborative efforts to further reduce costs without compromising customer service.

“The goal is to create one fully interconnected regional water system to permit resource sharing and emergency back up.  This document will be our planning tool to achieve that goal,” stated SMRWC President Norm Labbe.   

In 2005 utility-sponsored legislation to encourage regional solutions for water utilities was passed, creating Maine regional water councils. The Southern Maine Regional Water Council (Biddeford-Saco Water Company, Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Wells Water District, Kittery Water District, Portland Water District, Sanford Water District, South Berwick Water District, and York Water District) is the first such council formed.  It has already implemented a cost-saving group purchasing program and a comprehensive emergency response mutual aid plan.  Combined, these seven utilities serve approximately 375,000 people in 23 communities.  

 

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Southern Maine Utilities Sign Mutual Aid Agreement, 10/12/06

Southern Maine water utilities are better prepared for a major disaster or emergency with the recent signing of a Mutual Aid Agreement.  These utilities have pledged to lend a hand to their fellow Council members in case of a significant emergency.  Assistance can come in the form of water, equipment, supplies, and personnel. 

“This Agreement is an important step towards improving our cooperation and regionalism efforts.  It creates a framework and process,” states SMRWC President Michael Nadeau.

 Often times, inclement or severe weather can tax a water system.  Hurricanes, torrential downpours, and freezing weather can snap pipes and choke facilities.   Water utilities are equipped to handle emergencies but would benefit from relief crews and extra equipment during severe and prolonged emergencies.

 Maine regional water councils. The Southern Maine Regional Water Council (Biddeford-Saco Water Company, Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Wells Water District, Kittery Water District, Portland Water District, Sanford Water District, South Berwick Water District, and York Water District) has been examining ways to reduce costs and improve contingency plans for providing water services.  Combined, these seven utilities serve 23 communities, roughly 375,000 people.   

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SMRWC Announces Officers, 1/19/06

On January 10, the Southern Maine Regional Water Council held its first official meeting to elect officers.   The Council is comprised of seven directors from member water utilities.  The following officers were elected to one year terms.

Michael Nadeau, superintendent of South Berwick Water District, was elected as president.
Donald Neumann, superintendent of York Water District, was elected vice president.
Christopher Mansfield, deputy manager of Biddeford & Saco Water Company, was elected treasurer and secretary.

Other directors include Guy Hodgdon, assistant superintendent of Kittery Water District, Dennis Knowles, superintendent of Sanford Water District, Norm Labbe, superintendent of Kennebunk, Kennebunkport, and Wells Water District, James Willey, trustee of Portland Water District.

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Water Utilities Propose Bill That Embraces Regionalism, 3/17/05

As costs continue to rise and the public demands lower prices, Governor Baldacci recently renewed his call for local governments to work together to find solutions.  Water utilities have taken the challenge to ‘reinvent government’ and proposed legislation to create Maine Regional Water Councils.

LD 1162 – An Act To Permit the Establishment of Regional Water Councils would allow for the creation of water councils.  They would act similarly to councils of governments by providing water utilities with opportunities to reduce expenses through cost sharing and improve eligibility for federal funds.  The councils would be voluntary, non-profit organizations that provide its members common services like purchasing, planning, billing, accounting, and customer service.

“I am pleased to be able to bring this bill forward, and I commend Maine water utilities for taking the initiative to advance Maine’s commitment to regionalism,” stated State Representative Chris Barstow (D-Gorham), sponsor of the legislation.

Regional Water Councils would undertake joint planning and set local industry standards that would facilitate the integration of water systems and sources. The recent drought, which left many water utilities with critically low water supplies, has highlighted a crucial need for developing a broader approach to water resource planning.  And as a result of 9/11, most water utilities have gone through extensive emergency planning which has underscored the need for backup systems and supplies. 
“Our District is in favor of this bill because it allows utilities to maintain local control and at the same time take advantage of the benefits a regional provider would have,” stated Michael Nadeau, Superintendent of the South Berwick Water District.

For over a year, seven southern Maine water utilities (Biddeford-Saco Water Company, Kennebunk-Kennebunkport-Wells Water District, Kittery Water District, Portland Water District, Sanford Water District, South Berwick Water District, and York Water District) have been examining ways to reduce costs and improve contingency plans for providing water services.  As a result, the group is supporting legislation to allow for the creation of Regional Water Councils.   Representative Barstow is sponsoring the bill and will bring it forward in the 122nd Legislative session.  Combined, these seven utilities serve 23 communities, roughly 375,000 people.    

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