Suez Water’s $12.6M MUA deal finally closes

| 20 Dec 2018 | 12:42

WEST MILFORD – After more than two years of work, Suez Water has officially purchased the Municipal Utilities Authority, and three other entities for $12.6 million, the company announced Tuesday.
The transaction will add more than 9,000 people to the company’s water and sewer services in Lake Glenwood, East Brookwood, Independence and include the 1,700 customers in West Milford.
“We are expanding because municipalities, homeowners’ associations and other small independent operators are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain their aging facilities and meet today’s health, safety and environmental regulations,” said David Stanton, President, Utility Operations in a press release Tuesday. “They are turning to SUEZ,” he added, “because they know the company has the expertise, the experience and the capital to transform troubled operations. Our investment plan ensures that our neighbors, now our new customers, will receive safe, reliable services.”
Company officials announced the finalization of the sale, which will see the lion share of some $55 million in upgrades during the next five years, go to the township to repair and upgrade the MUA infrastructure, officials said.
According to the company, West Milford will see $50 million in system improvements alone.
West Milford recoups $10 million from the sale, putting $5 million to the town’s deficit, Mayor Michele Dale said during Wednesday night’s Township Council meeting.
“This is a first (for this kind of sale) in the state,” she said.
Carol Hardy, a member of a committee composed of MUA customers, said during that meeting that she and others in the township have been working on the sale for the last 2-3 years in order to make the utility marketable.
The MUA facilities, however, are still in rough shape, Suez officials said during a press conference Tuesday at a waste treatment location on Macopin Road near the high school.
The officials said that particular facility has sewage spilling into the ground and that they will be building a new plant next to the existing structure at a cost of around $10 million alone.
Mayor Dale, who attended the press conference and tour of the facility Tuesday, said the deal is a win-win for the township and for Suez.
She said the company plans on using local vendors for the work where appropriate and that the customers in West Milford will have their rates set for three years.
Company officials said that Suez was initially interested in an operations and maintenance contract, but saw a better strategy to buy the utility and upgrade the system.
Suez currently serves some 1.5 million customers throughout the state, which allows the improvements costs to be spread out over a large user base as opposed to local residents footing the entire bill, company officials said.
Both the company and the township have been working on the deal for more than two years.
Company officials said Suez wants to provide better service through the improvements and hope the purchases this week will enhance the company and provide residents with safe, clean water.