What We’re Doing

Updated quarterly, below are the major priorities being pursued by the Advisory Board along with the current goals and historical activity including any formal votes of the Advisory Board. Click on each heading to drop down the next level of information available on each topic and sub-section.

Co-Digestion

”Goal: In the short-term, secure state funding to ensure that rate-payer money is not used to fund this state initiative; in the long-term, ensure that a full co-digestion program generates substantial revenue for the Authority.”

FY 2016 Q2 Goal:
  • Monitor responses to Authority’s Request for Interest. Continue to advocate for any program to be a significant revenue generator.
FY 2016 Activity

September 2015

  • MWRA staff presented to MWRA Board of Directors an info staff summary detailing plans to issue a Request for Interest to determine if a market would exist for a full-scale co-digestion program at Deer Island.
Prior Activity

June 2015

  • Advisory Board staff presented to Board of Directors on recommendation that MassDEP present all available data on the organics ban that was put into place on October 1st 2014 (i.e. tons of organics diverted and to where they were diverted)

March 2015

  • Undersecretary of Environmental Affairs Bartlett addressed Advisory Board.
  • Met with MWRA staff – current thinking is co-digestion startup will begin in Jan 2015.

September 2014

  • Brought MassDEP Commissioner to the Advisory Board meeting held at BWSC to discuss, among other things, MassDEP’s views on co-digestion.

March 2014

  • AB Executive Director published an editorial titled, “Time to Hit the Pause Button.” The editorial called for all co-digestion related work to stop until questions were answered by the Authority and the Commonwealth related to cost estimates and financial assistance.
Comments and Recommendations History

FY 2016 (printed June 2015)

  • The Advisory Board recommends that the Authority arrange a presentation to the MWRA Board of Directors from MassDEP on the status of the Organics Diversion Program. Additionally, the Advisory Board recommends that Authority staff then extrapolate from this information the viability of a market/supply for Deer Island should codigestion be deemed viable. (page 99; #27)

FY 2015 (printed May 2014)

  • Advisory Board recommended that the co-digestion pilot program should not be resumed until an updated estimate on the costs required to resume the pilot program were detailed and the Commonwealth provided the Authority with its plans for substantial financial support. (page 81; #23)

FY 2014 (printed June 2013)

  • Advisory Board recommended that the Authority design a co-digestion program that could provide a financial benefit to the Authority significantly greater than the costs associated with co-digestion. (page 73; #8)

Co-Permittees

”Ensure that MWRA member communities are not named as “co-permittees” on the Authority’s NPDES permit with EPA for the Deer Island Treatment Plant to avoid changing the relationship between the MWRA and its communities from “partner” to “enforcer.”

FY 2016 Q2 Goals:
  • Ensure MWRA Board of Directors receives a detailed update of the impacts co-permittee language would have on MWRA and member communities.
  • Prepare to appeal final NPDES permits issued to Clinton Wastewater Treatment Plant and/or Deer Island Treatment Plant.
FY 2016 Activity
  • No new activity.
Prior Activity

May 2015

  • Advisory Board approves recommendation for MWRA staff to present the issues and impacts of including co-permittee language in the pending NPDES permits.

February 2015

  • Environmental Appeals Board denies appeal of Charles River Pollutant Control District’s NPDES permit.
  • Decided not to pursue further legal action on CRPDC permit.

September 2014

  • Advisory Board sent a check to Bowditch-Dewey to aid in the legal costs of the CRPCD’s appeal of the NPDES permit issued to them by the EPA in July, 2014.

August 2014

  • The Advisory Board’s Executive Committee voted to approve $5,000.00 towards the legal costs of CRPCD’s appeal of the NPES permit issued to them by the EPA in July, 2014.

2008

  • Advisory Board’s Executive Committee approves putting legal counsel on retainer in anticipation of a NPDES permit being issued to the Deer Island Treatment Plant in which co-permittees were named. Seven years later, EPA has not yet issued the permit.
Comments and Recommendations History

FY 2016 (printed June 2015)

  • The Advisory Board recommends that Authority staff draft an informational staff summary and provide a detailed presentation to the full MWRA Board of Directors in July 2015 on the history and the significance of the issues at stake with regard to co-permittee language in the Deer Island NPDES permit. (page 96; #24)

FY 2015 (printed May 2014)

  • The Advisory Board recommended reducing budgeted amounts related to costs of a new NPDES permit, as EPA has failed to issue the permit for a number of years. (page 68; #17) and (page 72; #19)

Inflow/Infiltration (I/I)

”Goal: Continue to assist communities in reducing extraneous flow in their local sewer systems.”

FY 2016 Q2 Goal:
  • Promote and track communities who begin to utilize Phase 9 & 10 of the I/I program. (See I/I Funding Summary through August 2015 including new phases here)
FY 2016 Activity
  • Partnered with UCANE to launch outreach to Lieutenant Governor re: available funding.
Prior Activity

March 2015

  • Press conference with Mayor Jeannette McCarthy, MWRA, and Advisory Board for receiving Phase 9 funding. View a video of the press conference here!
  • Approved language of first community survey required by changes to I/I program.
  • Phase 10 has been triggered by communities who have expended over 50% Phase 9 money.
  • $10.7 million of Phase 9 funding distributed through Q3. (View a list of distributions through March 2015 here.)

January 2015

  • Press event with Mayor Setti Warren, MWRA, and MWRA Advisory Board to kick off Phase 9 of the I/I program. View a video of the press conference here!

November 2014

  • Coordinated for press event with City of Newton.

June 2014

  • Board adopted Advisory Board recommendations to:
  • Expand I/I Program by $80 million
  • Create a 75% grant/25% zero-interest loan
  • Ten-year payment cycle
  • Remove local programs from MWRA CIP cap.
Comments and Recommendations History

FY 2015 (printed May 2014)

  • The Advisory Board recommends that the payback period for Phase 9 and Phase 10 of the Inflow/Infiltration Local Financial Assistance Program be extended to ten years. (Page 86; #26)
  • The Advisory Board recommends that Phase 9 and Phase 10 of the Inflow/Infiltration Local Financial Assistance Program be reconfigured to allow for a grant/loan ratio of 75% grants and 25% interest-free loans. (Page 86; #27)

FY 2013 (printed May 2012)

  • Include Phase VIII of the Inflow/Infiltration Local Financial Assistance Program in the final CIP, beginning in FY13. (Page 11; #5)
  • To reduce the variability in community loan program distributions, the Advisory Board supports a revision in the cap calculation to exclude the local assistance programs from the cap calculation beginning in FY14. (Page 17; #6)

Long-Term Rates Management

”Goal: Work to ensure rates that are sustainable, predictable, and as low as reasonable.”

FY 2016 Q2 Goal:
  • Work with Authority staff to begin plans for mitigating variability in water assessment increases.
FY 2016 Activity

July 2015

  • Initiated discussions with Authority regarding smoothing of proposed water rate revenue requirement assessments.
Prior Activity

March 2014

  • Long-Term Rates Management Committee meets and agrees to recommend $10 million deposit into OPEB with the balance to be used for strategic rate relief in future years.
  • MWRA Board of Directors selects three representatives and Executive Director for Long-Term Rates Management Committee.

January 2014

  • Executive Committee selects two representatives and Executive Director for LTRMC.

December 2014

  • Exec. Director added LTRM Committee member selection to Exec. agenda for January.
  • AB Exec. Director asked MWRA Exec. Director for LTRMC meeting in February with goal for March vote.
  • MWRA Exec. Director announced at BOD Meeting that LTRMC would be reconvened in early CY 2015.

November 2014

  • Executive Director discussed reconvening LTRMC with MWRA Exec. Director and MWRA Director of Administration and Finance.

June 2014

  • MWRA agreed with AB Recommendation for reconvening LTRM Committee.
Comments and Recommendations History

FY 2015 (printed May 2014)

  • The Advisory Board recommends that the Long-Term Rates Management Committee be reconvened with updated membership according to the original makeup present on the committee, and that meetings begin in September 2014 (page 47; #7).
  • The Advisory Board recommends the Authority further formalize these efforts by creating a working committee to consider the range of tools available to ensure a measured approach to meeting its rate revenue needs through 2022 (page 84; #20).

Molybdenum

”Goal: Allow in-state, year-round distribution of all MWRA pellets.”

FY 2016 Q2 Goals:
  • Coordinate with MWRA’s representative to the Advisory Group for EO562.
  • Attend Listening Session on EO562, October 1.
FY 2016 Activity
  • No new activity for Q1.
Prior Activity

June 2015

  • Participated in Molybdenum-in-Biosolids workshop with the EPA, MassDEP and other interested parties, to provide the necessary scientific data required to justify changing the limit.

May 2015

  • Staff contacted Governor’s staff regarding Executive Order 562 recommending the DEP regulations regarding molybdenum as a candidate for review.
  • NEFCO presented at Advisory Board meeting on the “Environmental Benefits of Re-evaluating Molybdenum Standard for Biosolids and Residuals Utiliziation.”

March 2015

  • Identified and scheduled meetings with organizations representing commercial property owners using molybdenum.
  • Sent AB-approved letter to MWRA outlining concerns and possible solutions.
  • Determined potential for in-state market year-round availability.
  • Determined actual distribution of pellets by volume and locations throughout US.

November 2014

  • AB fall briefings – MWRA staff also reported, at Residuals briefing, that DEP staff is not receptive to changes to the state limits on in-state application of the Authority’s sludge fertilizer pellets.
  • AB staff also spoke informally with Authority staff mid November on options and which members of staff were involved to date.

October 2014

  • AB meets with TRAC and gets molybdenum update.
  • MWRA staff reached out to DEP but having difficulty finding receptive staff.
  • AB Executive Director called DEP Commissioner to discuss the issue.
  • AB staff contacted NY and tracked down studies used to set NY’s new limits

June 2014

  • MWRA’s responses to CaR concur with overall goal and assert that they will put together strategy and present options to the BOD.

May 2014

  • AB approves CaR including directive to MWRA to develop plan to get to year-round, in-state placement of product.

April 2014

  • MWRA staff presents to AB on background and current regulations on molybdenum.
Comments and Recommendations History

FY 2015 (printed May 2014)

  • AB recommended that the Authority begin immediately to address molybdenum limits … with the goal of ensuring … pellets can be placed in-state throughout the entire year … and present a specific and detailed plan to do so to the MWRA Board by October 2014 (page 89; #29).

Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB)

”Goal: Determine the best method for establishing and funding an irrevocable trust for its OPEB liability without placing an undue burden on ratepayers.”

FY 2016: Goal completed.

Prior Activity

May 2015

  • Successfully secured bond counsel ruling that OPEB contribution line item was not classified as an operating expense, removing the need to raise money for the operating reserve requirement.

March 2015

  • Long-Term Rates Management Committee recommends $10 million from released reserves to be deposited as initial funding for OPEB Trust.
  • MWRA reports anticipated “virtual full funding of pension (95%).

November 2014

  • AB Executive Director discussed convening staff-to-staff meeting with MWRA Executive Director.
Comments and Recommendations History

FY 2015 (Printed May 2014)

  • Advisory Board recommended that 100% funding of the retirement fund be used as a specific “trigger” to begin the process of establishing an irrevocable trust for its OPEB liability. (page 55; #13)
  • Advisory Board recommended that if the budgeted contribution to the retirement fund resulted in it being greater than 100% funded, excess funds would be placed in a dedicated reserve account until an irrevocable trust is established. (page 55; #14)
  • Advisory Board recommended that a working committee, including representatives from the Advisory Board, be created to establish the schedule, structure and management of funding the Authority’s OPEB liability. (page 55; #15)

FY 2014 (Printed June 2013)

  • Advisory Board recommended that the $4.98 million in the Proposed FY14 CEB for “Other Post Employment Benefits/Additional Pension Deposit” be added to the retirement fund as an optional payment. (page 47; #4)”

State/Authority Relations

”Goal: Create environment that allows opportunities for pro-ratepayer legislation to be enacted.”

FY 2016 Q2 Goals:
  • Restore Debt Service Assistance through the Legislature (Governor vetoed)
FY 2016 Activity

September 2015

August 2015

  • Successfully restored Debt Service Assistance through Legislature.
  • Met with Secretary of Housing and Economic Development to discuss economic benefits of water/sewer infrastructure investment.

July 2015

  • Met with Speaker DeLeo regarding override of Governor Baker’s veto of Debt Service Assistance (successfully able to override).
Prior Activity

June 2015

  • Commonwealth provided $3 million for state contribution to Hatchery Pipeline construction costs.
  • $1.1 million included to House/Senate conference committee for Debt Service Assistance.

March 2015

  • Presented Legislator of the Year awards.
  • Began outreach with MWRA Legislative Caucus.

February 2015

  • Reviewed FY16 State budget.

January 2015

  • Announced Legislator of the Year selections.

November 2014

June 2014

  • Legislature provided $1.25 million in DSA
  • Legislature enacted Infrastructure Bill
  • 50/50 Entrance Fees
  • $50 million increase in SRF Bonding Cap
  • Zero interest and principal-forgiveness loans
  • I/I reimbursement

February through present

  • Active member Infrastructure Finance Committee
  • Testified before State Bonding and Natural Resources Committee

September

System Expansion

”Goal: To provide MWRA water to new communities/entities in need of high quality water while offsetting cost for existing MWRA water system customers.”

FY 2016 Q2 Goals:
  • Present and vote a policy for Direct Source Water rate to Operations Committee, Executive Committee, and full Advisory Board.
  • Begin staff-to-staff discussions on Water Capacity Insurance methodology.
  • Continue working with North Reading, Ashland, and SouthField on their efforts to join the MWRA water system.
FY 2016 Activity

September 2016

  • Executive Committee/Advisory Board voted approval of providing SouthField with MWRA water conditional upon all regulatory requirements.
  • Agreed to present/answer questions about joining MWRA water system. at October North Reading’s Town Meeting
  • Met with representatives of Reading and North Reading regarding receiving MWRA water.

August 2015

  • One staff-to-staff meeting to discuss information gathered to determine next steps for Direct Source water rate.
  • Met with representatives of SouthField to discuss joining MWRA water system.

July 2015

  • Two staff-to-staff meetings to discuss parameters and information needed for Direct Source water rate calculation.
Prior Activity

June 2015

  • Staff presented to the Board of Directors on various options to generate revenue for the water system, including creating a rate methodology for untreated or “Direct Source” water, and developing a Water Capacity Insurance program for non-member communities to provide MWRA water as a backup water supply.

March 2015

  • Worked with Ashland and Hingham to discuss next steps on joining the system.

January 2015

  • Approved Dedham/Westwood increased withdrawal amount.
  • Met with North Reading.

December 2014

  • Voted to increase Dedham-Westwood Water District contract

November 2014

  • Met with Tri-Town and Secretary of Environmental Affairs Maeve Bartlett to review status of negotiations.
  • MWRA Board of Directors voted to accept Advisory Board recommendations on entrance fees.
  • Ashland Town Meeting failed to receive two-thirds majority to purchase MWRA water.

July 2014

  • Infrastructure Bill provides authorization for 50/50 match for entrance fees and principal-forgiveness for connection costs.

June 2014

  • Reaffirmed requirement for entrance fees.“

May 2014

  • May Green Sheet provides a history of the MWRA Waterworks System and explains Entrance Fee methodology.

December 2013

  • Voted emergency water connection for Ashland

November 2013

  • Voted emergency water connection for Hudson.

Prior

  • Revisited entrance fees and developed new methodology.
Comments and Recommendations History

FY 2016 (printed June 2015)

  • The Advisory Board recommends that the Authority convene a working group to develop an appropriate rate structure for Direct Source Water. Further that the recommendation of the working group be brought to the Operations Committee and full Advisory Board for a vote as a new admission policy for the MWRA. (Page 100; #28)
  • The Advisory Board recommends that a working group be convened to discuss a methodology for structuring Water Capacity Insurance to be offered to non-member communities, including members of the Advisory Board, as well as staff from both MWRA and the Advisory Board. Further, that the recommendation of this working group be brought to the Operations Committee and full Advisory Board for a vote as a new admission policy for the MWRA. (Page 101; #29)

FY 2015 (printed May 2014)

  • The Advisory Board recommends that the sunset provision on its proposed entrance fee payment schedule be extended one full year to June 30, 2015. (Page 86; #25)

FY 2013 (printed May 2012)

  • That the MWRA participate with the Advisory Board on a formal study to quantify the local and regional economic benefits of system expansion. (Page 61; #23)
  • Support legislation the Advisory Board intends to file seeking $100 million in state funds for the purposes of economic development to fund capital connection costs for new water service member communities. (Page 61; #24)
  • Actively seek and pursue an exemption of 9 MGD from the regulatory review process to expedite waterworks system expansion. (Page 61; #25)

FY 2013 (March 2012 Advisory Board meeting vote)

  • Recommend changing entrance fee repayment options to include:
    • 25-year interest-free repayment period
    • 3-year grace period

FY 2012 (printed May 2011)

  • Explore financial incentives to attract new member communities to the waterworks system
    including, but not limited to:

    • Offering a 5-year grace period before payment
    • Allowing a multi-year payment plan
    • Waiving interest on said payment plan. (Page 70; #15)

FY 2011 (printed May 2010)

  • Given the continuing trend for declining water use in the MWRA system since the most recent study was conducted, the Advisory Board recommends an updated evaluation of the safe yield for the tripartite capacity (withdrawals/releases/reserves). (Page 79; #14)
  • Rename the entrance fee as the FAIR – Former Asset Investment Recovery – cost or charge to join the MWRA to focus the discussion around the true purpose of the entrance fee. (Page 80; #15)
  • Do not fund the Hatchery Pipeline project until the first FAIR charge under the new streamlined system expansion process is received. (Page 80; #16)

FY 2010 (printed May 2009)

  • The Authority estimates that every 1 million gallons per day sold to a new customer is estimated to yield $5.0 million in one-time entrance fee revenue. The Advisory Board will continue to press for a streamlining of the system expansion process, and continues to endorse the Authority’s efforts in this regard. (Page 51 – 52)