Published December 26, 2018
By DAN TOMASELLO
LYNNFIELD — Retiring Lynnfield Center Water District (LCWD) Superintendent Ken Burnham announced last week he is resigning from the Board of Water Commissioners.
Burnham will be resigning as a water commissioner on Jan. 2, 2019, which is the same day he will be retiring as the LCWD’s superintendent. He served as the district’s water superintendent for the past 45 years and served almost two terms as a water commissioner. Burnham’s resignation came a week after the water commissioners withdrew their $5.25 million greensand filter treatment plant proposal at the standing-room only special district meeting on Dec. 10.
“I just feel for the continuity of whether we build the plant or not or go MWRA that the person who takes my place will be able to follow that from its inception all the way through completion,” said Burnham. “I think that is the best way to handle that because putting off building the plant at this present time is pushing this two to three years down the road. I felt it was good to do it all at once so there is continuity in the operation of the district. I put 45 years in and hopefully I did a good job.”
Water Commissioners Chairwoman Connie Leccese and Water Commissioner Richard Lamusta both said they will miss Burnham.
“You did a good job,” said Leccese.
Leccese said the water commissioners are waiting to hear from their legal counsel about whether Burnham’s seat has to be filled during a special election or if they can wait until the next district meeting on April 1.
“We will have all of this information by the Jan. 14 meeting,” said Leccese.
Leccese noted the water commissioners have formed a search committee tasked with finding the next LCWD superintendent. As presently constructed, the search committee consists of Leccese, Lamusta, Wymon Way resident Rob Almy and Patrice Lane resident Pat Campbell.
“We are waiting to hear from counsel to see if we need to add somebody else to that committee,” said Leccese. “The position has been posted on the appropriate websites and resumes are already coming in. After Jan. 14, we will begin to review them. It’s going to be an interesting year.”
The Board of Selectmen recently accused the water commissioners of violating the Open Meeting Law because the search committee included all three commissioners. The Open Meeting Law states that “a preliminary screening committee must consist of fewer than a quorum of the members of the parent body.”
Leccese informed the Villager after the meeting that an interim superintendent will be leading the LCWD until a permanent superintendent is hired.
Water study update
Leccese noted ratepayers approved a citizens’ petition created by Russet Lane resident Stephanie Rauseo that allocates $250,000 for a water study during the special district meeting on Dec. 10.
“The study is going to be done by Tata and Howard,” said Leccese. “They are going to begin this study for alternative sources of water. We are going to be working with the Lynnfield Water District to begin this process.”
The Lynnfield Water District was established by the state Legislature in 1924, and serves the southern part of town by purchasing its water from the MWRA.
In response to a question from a ratepayer, Lamusta said the LWD selected Tata and Howard to undertake the study.
Rauseo inquired what the water commissioners’ “Band-Aid” approach would be for assisting residents who have had discolored water due to iron and manganese.
Leccese said the water commissioners will be discussing the issue with its engineering firm, CDM Smith, in January.
“We are going to take a look at that,” said Leccese. “We have some ideas. We may get a second opinion. There are some other things we may do to get to the bottom of what the problem is. We are hoping to get the new superintendent involved with this.”
Leccese noted ratepayers rejected an amendment to Article 4 during the special district meeting, which sought to force the LCWD to purchase water filtration systems for ratepayers who have had discolored water. As originally proposed, Article 4 would have allocated $200,000 for the purpose of studying iron and manganese at the Glen Drive well field. Ratepayers rejected Article 4 because a similar study is close to being completed.
“The ratepayers will be welcome to bring this forward at the next district meeting,” said Leccese about the water filtration amendment. “But the people spoke loud and clear at the (Dec. 10) meeting that they were not up for that at this moment in time. It’s another thing that needs to be vetted.”
In response to a question from Rauseo, Leccese said the next district meeting will take place on April 1.
“That’s a long time for these people,” said Rauseo. “Can the ratepayers call a special district meeting for just that?”
“We are working with counsel on that,” said Leccese. “But between now and then, we will do whatever we can possibly do to mitigate this problem.”
Leccese noted residents who have discolored water in their homes may be eligible for the LCWD’s home filter rebate program, which provides a rebate up to $200 for the purchase and installation of an in-home water filter.
“I know it’s a Band-Aid fix, but very few people have taken advantage of that,” said Leccese.
Another ratepayer in the audience asked when CDM Smith’s ongoing iron and manganese study would be completed. Burnham anticipates the study will be wrapped up in the next couple of months.
A West Tapley Road resident noted she has had discolored water in her home. She inquired if the brown water will cause any negative health effects.
“All of the studies have said it’s more of an aesthetics issue and not a health issue,” Leccese maintained. “Nobody is proposing that if you have black water that you drink it, but normal course, there are no health issues. It’s bad because no one wants to have brown water and we certainly don’t want our ratepayers to have discolored water. We are working on it.”
The water commissioners’ January meetings will take place on Monday, Jan. 14 and Monday, Jan. 28. The meetings will be held in the Lynnfield Middle School cafeteria and will begin at 6:30 p.m.