VIDEO: Water & Waste Water Infrastructure 101 Educational Panel 3/24/15

By Rebecca Martin

“Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service.  The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have?  How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”
– Fred Testa, EFC

“Many municipalities  say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!”  Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”
– Candace Balmer, RCAP

Last evening, KingstonCitizens.org hosted a “Water & Waste Water Infrastructure 101” educational panel with guests Water Resource Specialist Candace Balmer of RCAP Solutions and Environmental Project Manager Fred Testa from NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation.

Close to 50 people were in attendance that included elected and appointed officials, representatives from many of our environmental organizations and citizens alike.

Thanks to our sponsors for this event that include the Woodstock Land Conservancy, Riverkeeper and Catskill Mountainkeeper and to Kingston News for providing a live stream of the event and the following video.

MATERIALS:

1.  NYS Drinking Water State Revolving Fund (NYS EFC)
City of Kingston applications/awards to date

2. Powerpoint: NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation

3. Powerpoint: Candace Balmer, RCAP (Coming soon)

 

 

PART One:

oo:oo – 2:42:  KingstonCitizens.org Welcomes the Audience and Guests.

2:43 – 5:24:  MODERATOR Jennifer Schwartz Berky, Introduction

5:26 – 25:00:  PRESENTATION: Candace Balmer, RCAP Solutions

25:14 – 27:48:  QUESTION: Dan Shapley, Riverkeeper
“Is there a reuse solution for the wastewater sludge?”

27:50 – 59:30:  PRESENTATION: Fred Testa, NYS Environmental Facilities Corporation     FOLLOW ALONG with PowerPoint

 

PART Two:

0:00 – 1:56:   QUESTION, Dan Shapley 
”If there is a water quality problem the community is aware of, but isn’t documented on the list it’s not helping getting funding for that project?”

“If the project is going to improve water quality (class b vs. class c) does that effect the score of the project?”

3:00 – 4:04:    MODERATOR

MHI (Median Household Income) is $44,000 in Kingston, making us likely to be eligible for funding.  

“How is the water supply changing based on growth and change in the landscape?  The way we manage, monitor, maintain?”

4:06 – 5:58:  Fred Testa, EFC

“State Department of Health has the role of regulating the quality of water.”

6:00 – 6:24:  MODERATOR

“Would you say that there is an increasing burden on small communities in the way of managing infrastructure?”

6:26:    Candace Balmer, RCAP 

“Demographic changes and the financial impact from shrinking communities.”

7:02 – 7:16:  MODERATOR

“H0w is the role of the government changed to met that gap? Is it doing so?

7:17:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“Water is free, but the pipes that are bringing it to you are not. It costs more than what they want to deal with.”

8:28 – 12:20:   MODERATOR

“In the Kingston system, rates might have to go up to provide for infrastructure needs. In the present, we are struggling to meet that demand. Can we talk for a moment about different rate structures, and what you’re seeing as best practice? Kingston has a descending rate structure today.”

9:25:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“We advocate a level rate structure and per gallon charge so that there isn’t any base usage. It’s called FULL COST PRICING.”

10:16MODERATOR

“How does that play out in the community?”

10:18:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“You have fixed costs. If people decide to use less to save money, the department still has to meet those costs.”

11:24:  Fred Testa, EFC

“Some small communities have a simple, flat rate. In the old days, things were more simple and it’s not as simple today.  In waste water, sometimes the expense on the property owner is based in part on property values.”

12:21 – 13:38:  MODERATOR 

“You brought asset management which the City of Kingston is undergoing for its waste water infrastructure. Can you tell us more about it and how you might be involved?  By the way, it’s the most expensive piece of infrastructure for the COK to run. It was found in our climate action plan that the municipality is responsible for that, and the cost of repairs would be 3 x more than we thought given it’s in the flood plain. Instead of it being $2 million dollars it’s more like $6 million in longterm costs.”

13:40 – 18:56:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“People don’t always understand where their dollars are going, (chemicals, transmission, admin, debt repayment, etc.). It’s about getting the most value for your equipment. It costs more to fix something once it’s broken than when it was planned for so to be replaced in a timely manner.  Assets are pipes, buildings, tanks, equipment, security, tools, office/lab. These are things that you have invested in and you recognize that they have a life span and when they break, you want to make sure that you have access to the things that you need to replace them efficiently and think of about financing for these replacements beforehand.  The first thing you do is an inventory. You want to identify what your assets are and prioritize your critical assets. Those that you’ll be really in trouble if you don’t have a back-up or money in the kitty for replacement.  Many communities don’t have maps. It’s very important to know what and where these assets are. What’s the expected use for life of an asset and how much does it cost? You’ve got to be saving money and setting it aside in dedicated accounts.”

18:29 – 18:56:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

Many municipalities  say “I haven’t raised water rates. Re-elect me!”  Not good. You need to continually keep pace with the cost of running your system. One of the ways you do that is by increasing your rates to recognize that things cost more as you move forward. You also recognize that things may not break next year, but may in five years – and you keep projecting future costs.”

19:11 – 19:52:  Candace Balmer, RCAP 

“Long term vs. short plan terming – you want to have the name of what you are replacing in that account so that extra money in water budgets are not transferred. You need dedicated reserve accounts.”

19:57 – 22:58:   MODERATOR 

“The EFC brought a list of what Kingston has borrowed from the revolving funds since 1994/1998.  How does EFC Work with a city like Kingston on Asset Management?

20:56 – 22:58:   Fred Testa, ECF

“We would mostly be urging them to do that. Asset Management plans are a growing phenomenon.  It wasn’t done in the past. There is a growing interest to do this and the DEC is starting to work on a plan making it required. What will the rates be? How will they need to be raised in order to avoid crisis? Asset Management will take communities a long way to know what will be happening. They are a live plan. They do no good to put them up on the shelf and not revisited and updated consistently.”

22:59 – 24:06   MODERATOR

“The State is trying to incorporate best practices for rating and in awarding funding.  Communities should invest where they already exist vs. sprawling. Invest in existing communities instead of newer projects.”

24:12 – 25:17:  QUESTION:  Rachel Marco-Havens (Woodstock)

“Can you speak to New Paltz regarding waste water? You spoke about Smart Growth. What does that mean environmentally?”

25:18 – 26:35  Fred Testa, EFC

We are looking at a project with new infrastructure or expand new service area. Has the municipality planned for growth in that area? Does it add properties that local growth hasn’t thought about. We are looking to see if the local gov have considered impacts on the communities. Was it planned for? Is a comp plan available to avoid uncontrolled sprawl that have adverse effects.

27:06 – 27:26  QUESTION: Rebecca Martin (Kingston)

“Can you speak a little bit to inter-municipal partnerships and how funding increase, or the benefits?”

27:28 – 29:56   Fred Testa, EFC

“We want to see that there is capacity at a treatment plant for both, that the communities have already talked. We want to see an inter-municipal agreement. A legal contract drawn up by the parties. Tying in smart growth, the idea is if there is a treatment plant nearby it may be best for everyone to make use of it.”

29:57 – 30:40:   MODERATOR

“There was a discussion in Kingston and Ulster in looking at that sort of collaboration in the past. I don’t know where those discussions are today. Also Comprehensive Plans can engage in other communities under municipal law to generate inter-municipal agreements.”

30:41 – 43:04: QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will (Kingston)

“I think this should be mandatory attendance for all muniapl leaders. Looking at the revolving fund loans for Kingston and noticing out of 14 there are 3 that originated from the Kingston water dept, all happening in 2012 under 1/2 million – 6.2 million.  In the dealings with the KWD are you in close contact or are there ongoing communications with KWD since 2012?

32:32:  Fred Testa, EFC

“I myself haven’t worked with Kingston, but the water district is referenced here – but the COK was the borrower here, not the Water Department.”

QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will

“We have a flooding task force that looked at conditions in the Rondout, historically it’s been very industrial. Are there funding mechanisms to assist with businesses and private property owners to help mitigate flooding problems?”

34:49:  Fred Testa, EFC

“Not through EFC.  There may be funding through the Consolidated Funding Application.”

35:43:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“There may be funding through Community Development Block Grant for these things.”

35:59 – 38:13   MODERATOR and Fred Testa, EFC

“Kingston is going through it’s brownfield area opportunity, a GEIS of great magnitude that will allow business and property owners to move through the SEQR process more quickly. Through the DOS. The program, unfortunately, has sun setted but hopefully there will be more opportunities.” (more on the CFA Program, Green Innovations grant, all happen in June).  “Kingston has been on the ball and have qualified for a great number of grants. As have the county. We have a green infrastructure project for Sophie Finn School.”

38:19 – 40:22  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“I want to answer your question, Brad. The CDBG program, one is public infrastructure, planning, public facilities and economic development of small business and enterprise. I don’t know if the economic development section would apply, but it’s worth looking that up. For joint applications, there are strict requirements, but if you were a join applications you could apply for more funding.”

40:22  MODERATOR

“Kingston is an entitlement city, not entitlement county. Kingston’s CDBG goes through HUD (Housing and Urban Development).”

40:44:  QUESTION: Ward 3 Alderman Brad Will

“What is the percentage of applications that are approved through the EFC?”

40:54 – 41:00:  Fred Testa, EFC

Last year we financed every application.”

41:05  MODERATOR

“The window is closing for the hardship applications. If Kingston wanted to apply for the round that moves forward in 2016 and are not  listed this year how would that work?”

41:24: 43:04  Fred Testa, EFC

I think Kingston has projects listed in the drinking water plant, but not waste water. The City received funding last September for a study 30,000 to study the engineering planning grant WW treatment plant for improvements. They can then give us a listing form, get on the intended use plan and get a score to hopefully be high enough to apply for hardship financing.   Projects can apply for up to $25 million, $18 million at 0%  The city is not in a position to apply because they are not on the list. Step one. Get on the list.

43:08 – 48:20  QUESTION: Kathy Nolan, Catskill Mountainkeeper

“Troubled that we are talking about conventional waste water treatment plants. They don’t include pharmaceuticals, heavy metals, hormones. However newer technologies methods do. Those plants require less maintenance impacting costs. Who do we get to help us to be directed towards innovative approaches, especially considering NYS watershed?”

44:42:   Candace Balmer, RCAP

“Most don’t describe technology requirements, though must be technically approvable. In that way, it’s all fundable.”

45:18:  Fred Testa, EFC

“If there are new technologies being considered, the DEC which permits waste water treatment plants allows them to discharge treated wastewater as long as it meets cleanliness regulations. If they are presented with new technologies, they are going to want to see proven technical evidence.”

Candace Balmer, RCAP

“If it breaks, they want to see that you can get the pieces easily for repair. That don’t want you to put in something that is problematic in that way.”

Kathy Nolan CM

“What you’re describing is a system that doesn’t have a way to perhaps get started in communities that use better technology. With the Green Innovation funding stream, can we can get a plant funded to be used as a pilot to see how it functions and if it’s possible to create more of them.  We keep coming to the same point in the conversation. We need to do something that gets us into the better technology.”

Candace Balmer, RCAP

“Get with your regulator. Have them come with you and chat about concerns. Sometimes it’s an individual look at concerns.”

48:27 – 50: 04  QUESTION: Joanne Steel, Mid-Hudson Sierra Club  

“Town of Lloyd had a rebed system that was doing very well. Are you familiar with it?”

49:06   Fred Testa, EFC

“That was a wetland. It’s not a rebed for sludge.”

49:17  Candace Balmer, EFC

“Though it’s an example of their working with the DEC to get that project off the ground.”

50:11 – 53:53:  QUESTION: Mary McNamara (Saugerties)

“In our region there are often neighborhoods where Septic Systems have failed. To accommodate, water districts have been created. It’s to o expense to bring in a clean water program. The nearby surface waters are impacted. I see it more and more. What funding programs exist for individuals?”

51:25:  Candace Balmer, RCAP

“Looking at it from a community perspective, what EPA has promoted is decentralized water management concept with responsible management entity. Pay the bills. You can have a management district that manage onsite. Woodstock has a management area where they inspect and repair individual septic systems. There’s a variety of ways. For individuals, there are not a lot of programs. If you are poor or elderly you can get up to 7500 in a lifetime and septic systems are one of them that you can use it for.”

53:34: Fred Testa, EFC

“There is Housing Improvement in CDBG to improve septic systems for private drinking water wells.”

53:54 – 58:05:   MODERATOR

“Kingston represents a community that has experienced it all.  Now we are dealing with the burdens in dealing with infrastructure. How do we look down the road to address this challenge?”

56:11 – 57:16:  Fred Testa, EFC

“You need people to sit down and focus. Asset management approach forces people to look at specific elements of infrastructure and plan accordingly. Infrastructure must be maintained. People come to rely on that service.  The general population doesn’t stop to think “If I didn’t have water, how would my life be affected? How valuable is that infrastructure to my quality of life that I have?  How much am I paying for it vs. how important is it to my life?”

57:19 – 58:05:   Candace Balmer, RCAP

“It takes the community. When we do project planning we get everyone at the table. The regulators, the public, the board. Lets all sit down at what we’re looking at and what it costs.”

 

 

“Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!” Initiative Marks Its Second Season in 2010

Kingston resident Kate Lawson leads by example.

“Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!” initiative continues for a second year in the City of Kingston.

The City of Kingston’s Mayor James Sottile, DPW Superintendent Michael Schupp and The Kingston Land Trust hope to save Kingston citizen’s tax dollars for a second year by encouraging residents to mulch their leaf landscape waste.

KINGSTON – With the recent passing of a mandatory leaf bagging law in the city of Kingston, public officials in connection with the Kingston Land Trust are asking residents to “Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston!” for a second fall season. The federal program that was initiated locally hopes to save citizen’s tax dollars by asking them to ‘help Kingston help itself’.

“Mulching leaves takes a serious waste disposal problem and stops it at its source,” says Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of the Kingston Land Trust.  “Additionally, it takes 1/4 of a persons time rather than bagging them, avoids all municipal collection costs and provides valuable plant nutrients stored in leaves throughout the season to fertilize lawns and gardens naturally.”

A helpful brochure will be available at the city of Kingston’s Clerks office, Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Kingston Land Trust offices after October 10th about the program.  To learn more on the initiative online, visit the city of Kingston’s website or contact Rebecca Martin, Executive Director of the Kingston Land Trust at 845/877-LAND (5263) or rebecca@kingstonlandtrust.org

Why Residents Must Continue to Recycle

With the abrupt change made this week to the recycling schedule (that is now bi-weekly) we grew deeply concerned. Not because we think weekly pick-ups are ‘the way to go’. But because the change was made without any effort to inform or educate the public. As it is, through the hard work of Julie and Steve Noble and Jeanne Edwards, Kingston was sort of on the up and up on improving it’s recycling numbers. That might be history unless something is done and soon.

Sure, not every municipality offers recycling to their residents. That may even be where we are heading. The fact of the matter is, Kingston has offered it as a service and we have come to expect it. If more people now feel inconvenienced and decide to trash their plastics and all, we are not only heading in the wrong direction but we are also encouraging a whopper of an expense in the long run.

Why? At this time, Kingston pays UCRRA (Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency) $71 a ton to then ship our garbage up the river some 250 miles. That’s what makes it so expensive. Weigh that against the national average, which is around $42.08 per ton.

Landfills are close to capacity. Perhaps not this year or next, but in the very near future our garbage may be shipped even further away. Now does that make any sense?

So please, hold onto your recycling until your new scheduled pick-up day. Give your bottles and cans an extra wash out to prepare them to sit for a week longer. That only takes a few seconds of your time. If you simply can’t wait, delivering your recyclables, yard waste and brush to the transfer station is free.

Encourage your Alderman to help solve this problem through good discussion and solid examples by looking outside of Kingston to see what might be useful to us.

– Rebecca Martin

Here are a couple of helpful links.

City of Kingston: New Recycling/Yard Waste Pick-Up Schedule

KingstonCitizens.org: Why Pay As You Throw?

KingstonCitizens.org: Plastics By Numbers

Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Mulching and Composting Brochure

Making Citywide Composting Profitable

In today’s Daily Freeman, Andi Turco-Levin announces her desire to get behind a citywide composting program for the city of Kingston.

There are many components to discuss on the subject such as residents doing more of it themselves (by mulching leaves and composting bigger pieces of yard waste) and mandatory leaf bagging (a source of controversial discussion).

But whether it’s left curbside, bagged, bundled – whatever – the fact remains that the city is scrambling to find a place for yard waste, as we no longer have a place for it as we have in the past. So what to do?

Take a look at the City of Palo Alto, CA’s model. Interesting indeed. (Taken from the KingstonCitizens.org facebook page. Thanks Brad Will)

What can you do in the meantime?

Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Leaf Mulching
Leave It On The Lawn, Kingston! Composting Yard Waste

Environmental Focus on Kingston: O’ Christmas Tree

It’s here, again.  Looking at the calendar I can’t deny it anymore.  The holidays are coming even if I’m not ready.

Once this indulgent time of year has passed, what’s left behind will be evident in what’s put out curbside.  Plaintiffs’ exhibit one being the Christmas tree.

I suppose there’s an ongoing debate over artificial versus real trees.  I fall on the side of bah-humbug with regard to all things Christmas.  But if it became compulsory to display a Christmas tree and I had to make a choice between a real tree or its artificial counterpart, I would choose real any year.

Last year 28 million real Christmas trees were sold in the US.  They are grown in each of the fifty states and Canada.  With nearly 21,000 tree growing farms, the industry employs more than 100,000 full or part time annually.

Trees are a renewable, recyclable resource.  For every tree harvested, up to 3 seedlings are planted.  An acre of tree farm can provide enough oxygen for 18 people, while also providing a natural habitat to a variety of animals.

Once the glamour, glitz and glory of the holiday fade, all those trees begin their journey to their final resting place.  In Kingston we have two organized options available to local residents.

Bring your family and your tree to the annual Winterfest event held at Hasbrouck Park on January 16th between 10:00 – 2:00.  Your tree will be mulched for free!  You can take your mulch home with you or leave it to be distributed and used in Kingston’s extensive park system.

This growing and popular event is sponsored by the Kingston Parks and Recreation Department and the Friends of Forsyth Nature Center.  Other planned activities include snowshoeing lessons, snow animal building contest and children’s crafts.  The latter will be held inside of the heated and historic Hasbrouck Park Stone Building.  For directions to the event, click here.

If you are unable to make it to Winterfest, you may place your defrocked tree curbside for pickup through Jan 31st according to the city code.  Please note that if you get your tree out before January 16th the DPW will transport them to event site for chipping.  Any trees hauled away after that date will go to our local brush dump.

Still want more green tips for Christmas?  Check out these ideas.

Did You Know: 85% of artificial Christmas trees are manufactured in China and are made with non bio-degradable plastics?

–          Wilbur Girl

After The Election: Recycling Campaign Lawn Signs

After an election cycle, have you ever wondered what to do with those campaign lawn signs that you agreed to place on your property? Do you call the candidates and offer them back? Take them apart to recycle them? Re-use them for lawn sales?

I decided to take a look on-line to see if New York State had any lawn sign recycling program in place.

Nope. At least not so far as I could see. There are, however, several municipalities who have created such a thing (in Florida for example and of course California).

I wonder if those running for office would agree to do away with lawn signs. Not plausible? Then how about holding onto them to re-use in the case that they run again in the future. Most everyone has an attic, right?

Here is a good link to ‘Planet Green’ where you can read more about the recycling possibilities.

– Rebecca Martin