Suez Water wants to buy MUA

Township introduces ordinance to sell MUA


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If the sale is made, all of the MUA assets would be the property of Suez Water New Jersey. The MUA would be dissolved. All water and sewer services for the MUA customers would be provided by Suez Water New Jersey going forward.

BY LINDA SMITH HANCHARICK

There is a buyer for the township's Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA).

The township council voted unanimously Wednesday night to move forward in the process of selling the aging water and sewer system to Suez Water New Jersey, the highest responsible bidder, at $12.5 million.

There is still much to do before the sale can actually occur, including getting voter approval in the Nov. 7, 2017 general election. The sale must also pass muster with the state Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and The Department of Public Utilities (DPU).

But this is the start.

"We are very excited about this," said Mayor Bettina Bieri. "It is years in the making."

Some historyThe MUA was created in February 1964. There have been many issues over the past few years with several of the individual systems, with boil water notices, poor water pressure and broken pipes among the problems within the aging system. The township mayor and council, along with the MUA board, agreed that selling the utility could be best for residents and customers.

MUA costs are paid only by MUA customers. The MUA has nine water treatment facilities and provides water services to about 1,700 homes in the township; it also has six wastewater treatment facilities providing sewer services to about 1,500 homes.

The township issued a request for proposals for the sale of the MUA in May, after the MUA board itself went through the process but did not meet state requirements. The state requested that the township take on the role to administer the sale. All on the council agreed to do it in a tight time frame.

Proposals were received by June 27. They were opened and reviewed by a council subcommittee. On Wednesday night, the council introduced an ordinance to move forward with the sale.

Details of the saleIf the sale is made, all of the MUA assets would be the property of Suez Water New Jersey. The MUA would be dissolved. All water and sewer services for the MUA customers would be provided by Suez Water New Jersey going forward.

The purchase price of $12.5 million, but not to be less than $10 million, will cover all debts by the MUA including fines owed to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. Any funds remaining will go directly to the township to pay down outstanding debt.

Included in the proposal is a rate structure. It has not been disclosed to the public yet.

Township attorney Fred Semrau would not say how many proposals were received, noting all information will be released after the contract is signed by both parties, which will be done after the ordinance is approved in August.

Who is Suez?Suez Water New Jersey is part of Suez, a multi-national company providing water services to 92 million people and sewer services to 65 million people worldwide.

In 2015, the company opened its North American corporate headquarters in Paramus. The North American arm provides services in all 50 states and Canada, with 3,430 employees. It owns 16 regulated water utilities, provides public-private partnership services to 84 municipalities, offers water treatment and advanced network solutions to 16,000 industrial and municipal sites, provides drinking water and wastewater services to nearly 6.7 million people on a daily basis, processes 55,000 tons of waste for recycling and manages $3.3 billion in total assets. The company had revenues of $1.1 billion in 2014 and is a subsidiary of Paris-based SUEZ.

Locally, Suez provides services in Bergen, Hudson, Passaic, Union, Morris and Sussex counties. It is the water provider in Jersey City, Hoboken and Bayonne.

What's nextThere will be a public hearing and second reading of the ordinance, which was introduced Wednesday, at the Aug. 16 meeting of the mayor and council.

The question of whether the assets of the Township of West Milford Municipal Utilities Authority will be sold to Suez Water New Jersey will be on the November ballot. The ballot question must be approved by voters in order for this sale to proceed.

What are your thoughts about the possible sale of the MUA? Go to westmilfordmessenger.com and tell us.

Source: mysuezwater.com.



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