FIRE SUPPRESSION LETTER
TO THE TOWN OF SOUTH BRISTOL
July 22, 2021
Dear Supervisor Marshall:
Bristol Water Works Corporation remains open to working collaboratively with the community to considering an upgrade to our system which could include fire suppression, for the benefit of all. An upgrade would however cost money, and would need to be funded over time by the ratepayers if BWWC was to take out a loan to upgrade the system. Any improvements to the system would need to be approved in advance by the NYS Department of Health (DOH) and the NYS Department of Public Service (DPS). BWWC is governed by both of these entities. The DOH monitors our system and the resulting water quality, and the DPS is in charge of setting proper rates. Any potential system upgrades would require collaboration with both entities, and the community to achieve a successful result. Some of the items that would need addressing which are evident right now to accomplish this are:
An engineering report to illustrate how the system could be modified to produce enough water and store enough water for fire flow so that the DOH could understand and ultimately approve the project for any proposed improvement. Currently, the DOH records state that BWWC’s system was not designed for, or certified for, fire protection flow. Please refer to the letter sent to TOSB CEO Phil Sommer by the NYS DOH this calendar year stating this fact clearly and without any lack of clarity.
A proper amount of water storage at an elevation that doesn’t require booster pumps to reach all residences in the service district so that the system could operate under emergency fire flow conditions with gravity flow in the event of a power outage. This would likely involve a larger water storage tank at a different location. We believe that there are options available in lands that we currently own, that we could trade land for if this was required. A storage tank at a higher elevation would also solve the intermittent water supply to Medalist Lane and Vardon Drive customers that lose water pressure when the power goes out. Customers on these streets are supplied from the lower water reservoir which sits at an elevation below their house elevation, with pressurized water by electrically powered pumps at the main water treatment plant building.
Replacing the flushing devices throughout the district with updated fire hydrants. The legacy devices are old and in need of repair or replacement. The flushing device that the Cheshire FD recently tapped into, and is now leaking, will cost $1,600 for repair parts for this device alone.
Any other items that a proper engineering study generates, or that are identified by the DOH or DPS in order to bring the system up to fire suppression standards that are otherwise unknown to BWWC in the absence of an engineering study.
Community support for expenses that would be incurred.
The result from the DPS in reference to the prior rate increase petition that was decided on July 12, 2018, on page 2 states upfront that BWWC does not collect revenue for fire suppression water (click here to view page 2). This statement, along with the DOH statement that BWWC’s system isn’t designed for fire suppression, makes it very clear that fire suppression is not supplied by BWWC and is completely separate from treated drinking water supplied to residents.
While I recognize that the TOSB does not have official jurisdiction over BWWC, the town board does have significant influence and also collaborative capability with community members. If fire suppression water is something that you would like to initiate discussions on, please advise by return letter to Ashley Champion of Nixon Peabody.
President - BWWC