The future of Trenton Water Works remains in question in lieu of recent events. Last fall, following several years of issues regarding low staffing and aging infrastructure and concerns of water quality, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection requested that the Capital City hire a private contractor to aid in the operations of the utility. It is my hope that the reports of a firm being hired are true, and can help significantly improve TWW operations. The community needs to regain confidence in the TWW, and reassurance that the water is safe to drink and use.
On June 15, 2010, voters of our community moved to reject a proposal to sell the city-owned suburban assets of Trenton Water Works; however, the community did not vote against outside assistance when needed. Hiring an outside firm to assist with management and operations is a step in the right direction to gain the trust of the community and customers, but we also need to address long term issues to provide assistance for the utility we voted to save in the first place.
As a candidate for City Council, the prolonged issue of Trenton Water Works must be addressed. Notwithstanding its recent problems, Trenton Water Works remains one of the city’s largest revenue generators. As such, it is within the city’s best interest to assure that the utility operates smoothly, and provides not only clean and safe drinking water, but also excellent and efficient customer service.
First and foremost, we must make sure the RFP for the long term contract with a management company is part of an open and transparent process that clearly highlights the expectations for the firm to be successful, including addressing the staffing issue. While I understand some residency requirements have been lifted for certain jobs at TWW, perhaps for the immediate future residency requirements are lifted for all, or at the very least, allow individuals who reside in municipalities TWW serves to apply for specialized positions. Further, we need to think about the future; I support a partnership with local worker training programs, including our schools and community colleges, to help identify young city residents who are interested in the jobs that the TWW provides, and get them the training they need to help them qualify to work at the utility.
Safe, clean water is essential for life and nourishment. It is critical that we make it a priority, and together evaluate all possible solutions to implement the change that will improve TWW and Trenton’s confidence in the utility and the City. Taking clear and decisive action now will provide the community with safe and clean water, and reduce waste.