Watershed Workshop City of Lewiston

September 2010


I want to thank the administrators of the City of Lewiston in inviting me to the workshop and allowing me to respond to the comments that were written by Mr. Dave Jones and attached to the workshop agenda for next Tuesday’s meeting. Please pass this along to those who need to consider the background that went into the draft complaint by Mr. Doug Stone, Lewiston water rate payer.

This workshop is not about Dan Bilodeau’s desire to build (as currently zoned) in the Lake Auburn watershed. I have my permits, I built my house and I do this out of principle, ethics & fairness to good people and families who live in this unique watershed. A watershed compared to only a handful in all of New England and just 10 others in the state of Maine who do not comply with the “normal” federal mandates of the Clean Water Act.

This is not just a personal complaint for my own gain. There are important issues that need to be addressed. Please talk to my at –large and ward 1 city councilors in Auburn, talk to Auburn city manager Mr. Glenn Aho, speak with Mr. Phil Crowell the Auburn police chief or even visit my home and take a tour of what water system managers are calling the Bilodeau “loop-hole” and decide for yourself if these issues warrant your attention.

Thank you,
Dan Bilodeau, Auburn water rate payer and property owner.

Complaint #1 36 inch septic ordinance

Mr. Jones says this ordinance is “consistent with what is required in all 5 other New England states and nearly every state in the country.” He says it I based on the 1980 EPA manual as well.

Those statements are misleading and FALSE and it was also presented that way to Auburn’s planning years back the same way by Mr. Lamie. What Mr. Jones fails to tell the leaders of Lewiston is the other 5 states and the EPA manual allows fill and/or mound systems which enable the applicant to “build” the system to an equivalent 36 inch system or that standard he feels is appropriate for his rate payers.

You can dive into the technical aspects of the Dave Jones explanation and get lost in the science which he suggests is necessary to make an informed decision on this complaint or you can simply ask Mr. Jones if he would allow a citizen or property owner of the Lake Auburn watershed to build a system to a performance standard that he would find acceptable and that he might confer with the state soil scientist Mr. David Rocque who is the unbiased expert in the field when doing so.

Regardless of what Mr. Jones does, it is clear that it has always been a LAWPC initiative to argue this 36 inch complaint, delay its needed updating, to simply continue to de-value property parcels in which they (LAWPC) buy for $800/ac.(from widows and the like) all while creating a hardship for the taxpayers of Auburn because of the tax shift created by the loss of assessing value that is entirely in Auburn.

Complaint #2 Low Impact Development (LID)

“The promotion of Low Impact Development will not cost existing homeowners anything.” This is a FALSE statement by Mr. Jones.

An actual (LID) project was completed a few weeks back on the West Auburn Road. This project was visited & admired by Mr. John Storer & Mr. Sid Hazelton of the Auburn Water District, and Mrs. Susan Gammon, Executive Director of the Androscoggin Valley Soil & Water Conservation District. This was an “existing” homeowner who paid for a $10,000 (est.) permitted patio project and then volunteered to pay for the accompanying (LID) rain garden at a price of $5000(est.).

Any new impervious area create by an “existing” homeowner will be FORCED to pay these (LID) costs if LAWPC implements the CEI recommendations of their new plan and it is adopted by Auburn. An interesting note is that Mr. Normand Lamie, a Lewiston resident may have had inappropriate influence over watershed matters in a public forum in Auburn.

The point here, and in this economy, without declining water quality data, why is Mr. Jones (LAWPC) even suggesting, through their consultants and past contacts with Auburn’s Comprehensive Planning Update Committee that this standard be implemented at a “NO COST” to LAWPC. Transparent government is needed here!

Our suggestion (as rate payers) was that the water system(s) use their CURRENT funding to assist homeowners with new and redevelopment projects whereas this future requirement appears to be NEEDED to maintain the waiver of filtration, not to improve water quality that has been consistently stable since testing began at the turn of the last century. Funding is available in the LAWPC sinking fund used to buy property & can be re-directed to LID projects, which brings us to complaint #3.

Complaint #3 Buying taxable lands

Risk Prevention is difficult to measure, easy to talk about. What can be measured is water quality and the data that accompanies it. Also measurable is the increasing complaints by the public to water resource regulators.
Mr. Jones and previous to his resignation, Mr. Lamie’s would like to think that this water system is the only un-filtered water source in the region and that their watershed management program is gospel.

Using data, not fuzzy math or big environmental terms, one can say Lake Auburn has a 4.3 to 1 ratio of watershed land to surface water. This is a (base) performance standard that you can bring to the work bench.

When looking at “other” un-filtered watersheds with similar ratios like the City of Syracuse you will be surprised to hear that they allow for the full complement of recreation, including SWIMMING WITHIN 500 FEET of their intake! This city has hundreds of thousands of people to provide for.

The City of Auburn began to recognize a huge detriment to their assessing valuations in the lake Auburn watershed a few years back. They invited LAWPC to attend a workshop and it wasn’t pretty. They wanted to know (Mayor Jenkins) when owning enough land is enough? What is the limit to this “ripple effect?” They wanted to know why they as a council, representing the people, were powerless to an organization called LAWPC, created by Lewiston and the Auburn Water District in the 80’s.

Mr. Jones says it is $26,000/year in potential lost revenue. That is FALSE, it’s in the millions when looking at the potential that this land might have had. Moving forward it is data that will protect our lake, not uncertain additional risk prevention. As a rate payer I support buying waterfront property as long as public access and view sheds remain a priority. I will not support back lands (like a former Mayor’s land currently under secret purchase and sale agreement) that have no significant performance value to water quality.

Complaint #4 Public Ways

How can an organization like LAWPC even get their hands on traditional, public-recreational lands along a Great Pond, owned by the people? They continue to restrict or provide provisional oversight on ridiculous (public use) restrictions such as ice skating, sailboats, moorings, docks, fishing, walking and dog walking, trail maintenance and much more because now they own what is THEIR “PRIVATE PROPERTY” along the shores of Lake Auburn.

They, (Mr. Jones & LAWPC) need to simply deed these traditional areas back to the City and offer their assistance to restore public uses to this Great Pond.

Complaint #5 Meeting the Clean Water Act without waiver

As the leaders of the City of Lewiston, you should tell your constituents and the general public once a month that they are drinking unfiltered water. Once thought to be 54 million dollars is available at Khole’s bargain prices because of technology advancements. The problem Mr. Jones only wants to shop at Nordstrom’s so please, for the benefit of people of the City of Lewiston, ask your finance department to get an estimate from Wright Pierce on the most inexpensive way to meet the Federal requirement and then lets continue the discussion from there. This upgrade to the existing facility may only be one small bond or stimulus package away!

Complaint #6 Imposition of additional restrictions

As water rate payers in Auburn and Lewiston, Mr. Stone and I feel we cannot impose our water bills on other people. That’s not right, it isn’t fair and what these water systems are doing may be a form of corruption at a level so complex that authorities and leaders will not even attempt to understand the logistics of such a practice. They hide behind things like “home rule” and “utility provision” and pass the buck to other quasi-municipalities or agencies, anything to cover up big mistakes of the past & questionable current practices.

Please, let’s keep this simple. If it is a restriction that is currently in use or is needed in the future, and it is because the water system needs it, than BILL ME FOR THAT COST on MY water bill and I will pay it as a good citizen would. There is no free ride anywhere; this is an expensive essential to life….clean water.

Complaint #7 Swimming

Prohibiting swimming in Lake Auburn years ago has been contingent on the use of the outlet beach for swimming. PLEASE restore its use or open a new area for the benefit of the public. Using water quality data and measuring tools, a spot on Lake Shore Drive or the Whitman Spring Road trail or other fine areas are available for use to the public without cause for concern, if testing is administered to insure the continued use is appropriate. I'm not advocating for swimming in Lake Auburn but other communities have been able to do so successfully. We should at least focus on making Lake rules fair and balanced.

Thank you for the opportunity to share this information before a complaint is lodged in Augusta.

>>Download Lewiston City Council information packet <<

 

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