Dear Willingboro Residents,
2018 was a year of both transition and accomplishment.
Transition, in the sense that the WMUA lost, through retirement, three key employees: Vince Buckley, Superintendent of the Water Department; Vic DeMaise, Superintendent of the Pollution Control Department and Mario Mercado, Superintendent of the Maintenance. Collectively, they represented over 75 years of knowledge, experience, and dedication to the WMUA and will be sorely missed.
Through our transition plan and outreach program, the WMUA was able to elevate some of our talented senior staff and employ experienced professionals into positions of authority. They include James Lallo, Deputy Superintendent of the Water Department; Pat Odonnell, Superintendent of the Pollution Control Plant, and Ernie Acevedo who will replace Mario as head of the Maintenance Department.
In addition to focusing on senior staff, the WMUA, after lengthy negotiations, finalized and approved a four-year contract with Local 676 representing our dedicated union employees. The WMUA also completed reorganization of the administrative staff to help implement better communications, customer outreach and advise.
2018 saw major projects commence construction and/or come to fruition. In April the WMUA dedicated the grand re-opening of Well 5. This state of art facility which began construction in 2016, was completed on time and within budget. The WMUA was also awarded a $1.2 million grant for its initiative. The WMUA successfully completed its lead testing program with the Willingboro School Board. All WMUA plants are now equipped with upgraded generators preventing lack of service in a disaster. Well 1 was equipped with a new pump and the redrilling of well 10 was awarded construction in August.
2018 also represented a year for planning and development. In April, the WMUA announced the completion of the energy savings grant awarded by the NJ Board of Public Utilities and the initial contract award to Schneider Electric under the NJ Energy Improvement Program (ESIP). If approved by the State, ESIP would enable the WMUA to make significant infrastructure improvements. The project costs would be offset by energy savings from the upgraded systems thereby saving the WMUA millions of dollars. It is anticipated this program will be announced in the first quarter, 2019.
Other major projects in planning stages include, construction of Well 6, upgrades to the public sewer lines and the grit removal system at the pollution control plant, improvements to the administration building, and completion of the water service agreements with Mt. Laurel and Evesham MUAs.
While I am optimistic that 2019 will be a successful year, I am also mindful of the challenges that lie ahead. They include implementation of state mandated regulations under the Water Quality Act and Asset Management Plan as well as increase awareness of unregulated contaminants, township flooding issues, and budgetary constraints.
Through the leadership and cooperation of the WMUA Board of Commissioners, Mayor and Township Counsel and input from the public, I am confident we can meet the challenges and opportunities that await us in 2019.