Edison Water Utility is up and running, responding to customers

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EDISON – The re-established Edison Water Utility is “fully operational and responding to the needs of customers,” Mayor Thomas Lankey stated during the 29th annual State of Edison address.

The mayor touched on the utility which launched on Jan. 1, six months after it was created from virtually nothing.

As municipal officials continue to explore where to house the utility, it is fully staffed and has already purchased vehicles and some equipment.

“We had proposed leasing the water distribution system, but we heard and respected our residents’ desire to re-establish the Edison Water Utility,” Lankey said. “I can proudly say my administration, under the leadership of Maureen Ruane, our business administrator, was able to achieve what everyone said was impossible, to create a water utility in six months from virtually nothing.”

In his address before the Edison Chamber of Commerce on Feb. 25 at the Pines Manor, Lankey recognized the members of the Water Advisory Committee for their efforts in the process.

The committee includes Ruane; Melissa Perilstein, the township’s former administrator of Policy and Strategic Initiatives; Township Council members Alvaro Gomez, Ajay Patil and Robert Diehl; civil engineer Tarendra Lakhankar and information technology expert Biral Patel, both Edison residents; police officer Keith Hahn and resident Anthony DeAmorin, who were instrumental in a voter referendum to keep water service under local control; and attorney Joseph Baumann Jr.

For six weeks, Robert J. Smith was building the new Edison Water Utility essentially from the ground up. On Nov. 18, Smith began his role of managing the township’s new water and sewer utility’s day-to-day operation, supervising personnel and overseeing maintenance.

“He brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise in this area,” Lankey said of Smith. “He has and is developing his water and sewer department to meet the needs of the community. He has assembled a high quality team within the department and I would like to welcome them also.”

Steps are being taken to invest in a capital improvements plan to address aging infrastructure.

“We need to ensure our water and waste water systems evolve and adapt to the current needs of the community it serves,” Lankey said. “Through cooperation, collaboration and compromise with the [Township Council], I know we will achieve this goal.”

Officials said the critical guiding principles on the issue are and will remain to provide improved service to residential and business customers and to provide necessary investments for infrastructure improvements.

In 1997, Edison officials entered into a contract with New Jersey American Water to operate and manage the township’s water system in the south end.

In 2017, the township amended the contract, which ended that year, and extended it for two years so options could be considered, including the benefits of private operation of the water and sewer systems.

Municipal officials said New Jersey American Water wanted to buy Edison’s water system, but they were not interested due to loss of control.

In June 2019, New Jersey American Water agreed to extend its contract to operate and provide water service to south Edison until Dec. 31.

The Edison Water Utility was re-established following the passage of a referendum in September 2019 which mandated that the public water distribution system be operated and managed by the township.

Effective Jan. 1, the utility operates and manages the water distribution system previously managed by New Jersey American Water.

For more information visit www.edisonwaterutility.org