Mayor comments on MUA

| 08 Mar 2012 | 02:11

    As previously mentioned, I have been corresponding with the DEP regarding the MUA situation since last May.These communications have increased since the abrupt resignations of all of the MUA commissioners.

    The township attorney and myself have met with relevant officials on two occasions in recent weeks.The last meeting was held last Friday in Trenton.In addition to Fred Semrau and me, twelve high-ranking representatives from the DEP, Department of Community Affairs (DCA) and the New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust (EIT) attended.

    They found the meeting to be productive and engaging.

    It was agreed by all in attendance that as an immediate interim measure, the Council must fill the vacancies on the MUA Board so that daily operations can continue, including sewer and water services, bill payment and revenue collection.

    Options for the future of the WM MUA were also discussed.These included the:

    1.possible dissolution of the MUA of the MUA 3.public/private partnership

    4.individual wells and septics to replace the MUA services

    Most agreed, and I concur, that an eventual sale to a private entity would provide improved services, economies of scale and would be BPU regulated.

    It was evident the DEP has significant concerns regarding the decisions of recent management and the state of WM MUA. We may never ascertain the extent of harm that the prior MUA administration has caused to this utility which resulted in300+ DEP violations. However, our commitment is to minimize such damage and rehabilitate this entity.

    The DEP was most cooperative and was pleased to have a fresh new start.Our civil discussions focused on the issues.It was clear that previous dealings with the MUA board resulted in an antagonistic relationship filled with unwarranted blame levied against the DEP.The DEP welcomed this new initiative, as well as our mutual focus on seeking resolutions to the health and environmental concerns stemming from the WM MUA.

    As a result of our team effort, the DEP is offering an ACO – administrative consent order – which will stop the legislatively mandated fines from mounting.It will stop the unnecessary bleeding provided progress is being made to rectify the violations in a most expeditious manner.

    We greatly appreciate the DEP, DCA and EIT’s cooperation and expertise as well as ongoing discussions.The DEP has further offered to meet with the new MUA Board for updates and discussions with a goal of reaching reasonable solutions to the poor conditions at the MUA facilities.

    It is my intent that Fred and I attend the next MUA board meeting at which time we will provide an update of the status.

    Mayor Bettina Bieri