Staffing issues riddle South Deerfield Water Supply District as state AG investigation looms

  • The South Deerfield Water Supply District building, which sits on Sunderland Road, off of Route 116. Recorder Staff/Joshua Solomon

For the Gazette
Published: 6/12/2018 11:42:59 PM

SOUTH DEERFIELD — With the South Deerfield Water Supply District under some kind of investigation by the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office, commissioners addressed a more immediate concern — staffing.

The water supply district will shortly be posting for a new superintendent and may be looking to make another hire following a recent departure. There’s also the issue of having one employee fully licensed to meet compliance requirements — a situation that has already popped up on the state Department of Environmental Protection’s radar.

The state wrote to the district on June 7, following an initial notice of noncompliance sent in February, and later followed up in March and April.

As part of the district’s response, a letter to the public was sent about noncompliance findings for: failing to have a secondary operator from late 2015 to early 2016, failing to notify the agency about changing secondary operators twice in 2017 and early 2018, and then, failing to create and submit a completed staff and operations plan.

Additionally the letter stated between 2015 and 2018 the district, while providing satisfactory surface water treatment, it failed to properly determine the effectiveness of its disinfection treatment.

The state had issued an extension to the South Deerfield Water Supply District to reach compliance and meet proper staffing regulations, but with another recent staff departure, the district finds itself in a bind.

District Superintendent Roger Sadoski said an employee has completed what he needed to become sufficiently licensed back in December, but there has been an unknown lag in the state issuing a license.

“I think once we say to someone we need this thing issued, they’ll issue it,” Sadoski said.

The commissioners and Sadoski discussed temporary options, such as hiring someone from another district to be an extra hand or contracting a private business to come in when necessary.

The district has until June 25 to meet the state’s demand for a secondary operator.

“Our biggest concern right now is somebody that has the licensing or the knowledge to step up to the plate,” Sadoski said.

Commissioners are also tasked with finding Sadoski’s successor as superintendent. He said he has been trying to retire for the past four years and now has more concrete plans. But, Sadoski said the staffing changes make leaving more difficult at this time.

Still, the commissioners will advertise for a new superintendent. Sadoski said in the past, the district has had issues finding an applicant who meets the job’s requirements.

The commissioners said they will also check with the universities and trade magazines to try to find possible applicants, besides using the newspaper and, possibly, job recruiting websites. Sadoski said other water districts face similar troubles in finding qualified candidates. And one of the requirements for the supervisor is to live in the area.

The district is considering hiring additional labor to help in the meantime.

The commissioners are expected to talk about staffing at Thursday’s meeting, where an executive session to discussion the attorney general’s subpoena is also planned. At Friday’s meeting, Chairman David Wells asked Sadoski if he had “heard anything more on the subpoena?” The question was quickly dismissed and tabled for an executive session.

The meeting is set to start at 6:30 p.m. at the district’s office on Sunderland Road.


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