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Williamstown Told to Monitor Sewer Inflow

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
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Williamstown Public Works Director Tim Kaiser addresses the Select Board.
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — Williamstown will have to address inflow and infiltration in the town's sewer lines, Department of Public Works Director Timothy A. Kaiser told the Select Board on Monday.
 
The town has been issued an administrative consent order from the Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection to comply with federal standards for monitoring and reporting of inflow an infiltration, the term for groundwater and stormwater inadvertently entering a dedicated sewage line.
 
The problem with infiltration is that it could potentially overwhelm a solid waste treatment facility, something that did happen "routinely" when Kaiser started with the town nearly four decades ago, he said.
 
Kaiser said the town has made progress over the years to reduce its inflow and infiltration problem.
 
"We found things that were cost effective to fix, and we fixed them," Kaiser said. "This new report … we'll be required to constantly identify sources, whether it's cost effective to do so or not.
 
"It's the federal government that is pushing this. DEP is the organization in Massachusetts that's responsible for pursuing it. … We will spend more time and more money recording and reporting on things that we do not need to do in order to run the system effectively. I'll try not to complain too much."
 
The town has contracted with David Prickett Consulting LLC of Longmeadow, which has experience dealing with other municipalities' compliance issues, Kaiser said.
 
He explained that Williamstown has an old sewage system that only started converting over from clay pipe to PVC in 1982.
 
"There's room for more improvement," he said. "The question is will it save the ratepayers any money. If we spent a dollar on inflow/infiltration, will it take a dollar off the bill? No."
 
"They didn't accept that we already solved this problem?" asked Daley.
 
"No," Kaiser replied.
 
Chairman Jeffrey Thomas noted that bringing the town into compliance with the consent order might be one of Kaiser's last acts in a long career with the town that ends on April 12 after 38 years and seven months of service.
 
"I was 22 when I came here," he told the board. "I started as a laborer in the sewer department. I took it with the thought that I'd do it until I figured out what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I did. I want to retire."
 
After receiving a round of applause from the board and spectators at Monday's meeting, Kaiser offered praise for his subordinates.
 
"The town has the best DPW around, and it will after I'm gone," he said. "They're dedicated, they know what they're doing, and they get it done. You're lucky. You've got a good group."
 
To that point, Hoch later in the meeting noted that Kaiser's replacement, Chris Lemoine, formerly served as the town's highway superintendent. And Craig Clough, who previously ran the parks and cemetery department, will be taking over as highway superintendent.
 
"Good internal capacity and moving people through progression there," Hoch said.
 
Kaiser is not the only long-term town employee who will be moving on in the coming months.
 
Treasurer Janet Sadler's last day is Friday, and Town Clerk Mary Kennedy will be retiring in March, Hoch said.
 
Both those retirements were anticipated in the FY20 budget. The Treasurer's office has been carrying three salaries for what normally is a two-person department to allow Sadler to train her replacement, Assistant Treasurer Rachel Vadnais. Kennedy's replacement, Nicole Pedercini, begins work on Jan. 21 to allow adequate time for a smooth transition in that office.
 
Meanwhile, Hoch said he is finalizing numbers for an FY21 budget he will present later this winter. It is early to talk about specific numbers, but he teased some promising news.
 
"On the town operation, things are looking extremely good," Hoch said. "No tax increase and possibly our share [of the budget] will have a slight decrease. I don't have the school numbers, so I don't know where they're going."
 
The appropriation for the Mount Greylock Regional School District represents the bulk of the town's expenditure from property taxes.
 

Tags: sewer,   wastewater,   

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Williamstown Fire District Seeking Treasurer

By Stephen DravisiBerkshires Staff
WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. — The Williamstown Fire District is in the market for a new treasurer after Cory Thurston announced at last week's Prudential Committee meeting that he plans to step down from the office.
 
Thurston has served in the capacity since he was elected in May 2019 to what, at the time, was the district's clerk/treasurer position.
 
A lot changed in the three years that followed. The district broke the clerk and treasurer roles into two separate jobs, and it moved them from elected offices to positions appointed by the five-person Prudential Committee.
 
"That was changed from an elected official a few years ago to make sure the district had a qualified candidate," Thurston reminded the committee at its September meeting. "Because it is an important job. And the state requirements tend to grow exponentially as time moves forward."
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