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News and Notes
A Publication of the
Advisory Board for MWRA Communities
December 2015
Ratepayers Pay for Projects Once
A potential issue that the Advisory Board staff has been flagging for years has moved to the "front burner."

Harbor Electric Energy Company (HEEC) has filed a petition with the Department of Public Utilities (DPU) for approval of initial rates, charges, rules and regulations.  

In essence, HEEC is attempting to use the DPU to force MWRA, and therefore its ratepayers, to pay for the costs of protecting the harbor electric cable (main power source for Deer Island).  The problem is that the MWRA has already paid for the cable.  In fact, ratepayers paid over $39 million for the HEEC designed, permitted, and constructed electric cable costs, $104 million with interest. 
It seems that when HEEC laid the electric cable, it did not meet the Army Corps of Engineers requirements as the specs outlined, which called for the cable to be buried a minimum of 25 feet below the ocean floor. Now HEEC wants the MWRA to pay for the $10 to $20 million to protect the cable when the dredging of the harbor begins.

Simply stated, it is not the ratepayers' responsibility; we only pay once for a project.  

The MWRA Advisory Board testified at a Public Hearing before DPU on December 21, 2015.  To access the Advisory Board's comments, please click here.  Stay tuned, stay vigilant.  
CSO Program Substantially Completed
During Christmas week, MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey reported to the Board of Directors and the court parties that Cambridge broke through a bulkhead activating a massive storm drain on the Alewife Brook Parkway.  This marks the substantial completion of the 35 projects contained in the $900 million, 20-year Long-Term Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) Control Program.  

The CSO Program, combined with the capacity of the Deer Island Treatment Plant, is responsible for Boston Harbor beaches being rated the cleanest urban beaches in the country.  

Judge Stearns's quarterly court order can be viewed here.  
MWRA Transmits FY17 Proposed CIP
to the Advisory Board
The MWRA Board of Directors approved the transmittal of the MWRA's Proposed FY17 Capital Improvement Program (CIP) to the Advisory Board at its meeting on December 16th.  

The CIP projects $160.1 million in spending for FY17, of which $87.3 million supports wastewater system improvements, $61 million supports waterworks system improvements and $11.9 million is for Business and Operations Support.  

The single largest change to the Program is the updated plan to address critical redundancy improvements for the City Tunnel, the City Tunnel Extension and the Dorchester Tunnel.  For the past few years, the CIP has included funding for various alternatives to accomplish this, such as the rehabilitation of sections of the Weston Aqueduct Supply Mains and the sliplining of the Sudbury Aqueduct.  The FY16 CIP included $518 million for these projects. Based on the current range of options, the placeholder value in the FY17 CIP increases that amount by $882 million to $1.4 billion.  

After extensive review and evaluation, MWRA staff are planning a series of presentations to the Board of Directors over the next several months - working closely with the Advisory Board - on project need, evaluation of alternatives, affordability and next steps in the hopes that a decision on whether to proceed and, if so, which option to pursue, be reached by June, when the Final FY17 CIP is approved.

Advisory Board staff will be scheduling a full presentation to the full Advisory Board in the coming months and, as always, staff looks forward to reviewing and commenting on the Authority's Draft CIP.
One Thousand Reasons to Follow
The Advisory Board hit a new milestone by surpassing 1,000 followers on Twitter! If you haven't followed us (@MWRAAdvisory), please do so and help us get to 2,000 followers.
In Memorium
David M. Whelan

On December 16, 2015, Dave Whelan, MWRA Budget Manager, lost his courageous battle with leukemia. 

Dave worked for the MWRA for over 19 years and for the past 7 years as the Budget Manager.  It is in this capacity that we were able to really get to know Dave, the professional, and more importantly, Dave, the man.

He was the consummate professional.  He knew the MWRA's budget inside and out and allowed the Advisory Board full access to all pertinent information.  His openness and transparency allowed us to do the Advisory Board's job in a manner that provided the Authority with the dollars it needed while keeping rate increases to our communities to a minimum.

To quote MWRA Executive Director Fred Laskey, "Dave was a true professional who did his job with pride and diligence.  We all marveled at his mastery of the Authority's finances, from the broader financial needs to the most obscure detail of some minor sub-account. Dave has played a key role in maintaining the Authority's sound financial footing. He will be truly missed."

Dave, the man, was even more impressive. He was a proud resident of Charlestown (a Townie), active in his community and in his church. He was always affable and upbeat, compassionate and fair. You knew when Dave entered a room. He will be missed, but never forgotten.     

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