HAMILTON, NJ -- In an effort to create a better dialogue with their customers, Trenton Water Works (TWW) held a public forum Thursday night at Hamilton High School West. The meeting was part of the agency’s H2Open series of public forums held in towns where they provide water service.
Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin welcomed the audience of about 50 local residents to the presentation and expressed appreciation to the TWW officials for meeting with the community.
The majority of the presentation was given by TWW senior advisor Steven Picco. Incoming director Dave Smith appeared before the Trenton City Council on the same night to be confirmed for the permanent post before attending the meeting in Hamilton.
Picco said that the agency is working diligently to communicate with residents.
“We want no surprises for anything,” said Picco.
The presentation focused on the steps that TWW has taken in the last year to improve the water system including changes to the water treatments systems, launching a $150 million Lead Service Line Replacement Program, and filling 65 vacant positions in the workforce. The agency also has developed a $405 million, six-year capital plan.
Additionally, TWW’s focus on customer communication includes launching a Reverse 911 System for registered customers to receive alerts about their drinking water. They also have stepped up their social media presence, created a new website, and pledged to host H2Open public forums twice a year in each of the towns they service.
Picco noted that TWW did not have any water quality violations in 2019. He addressed the need to increase rates for customers in order to achieve the goals of capital improvements and protecting water quality.
“As someone who works with utilities, no rate increase in 10 years is outrageous. There’s no excuse for it,” said Picco.
Picco said the average customer will see an increase in their annual water bill from $494 to $625. He noted that Hamilton residents who are serviced by Aqua pay $950 per year for their water bill while those serviced by American Water pay an average of $1,052 per year.
A spokesperson for American Water clarified later that their customers pay an average $55.89 per month, or $670.68 per year, for water.
Hamiltonians in attendance asked for clarification of how the water system works and if the water is currently safe for human consumption.
Last week, Governor Murphy signed a new law that requires a municipality to notify residents within one hour or being made aware of a boil water advisory.
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora, Hamilton Council members Pat Papero and Nancy Phillips, and newly appointed Hamilton Director of Community Planning and Compliance Fred Dumont also were in attendance at the TWW forum.
Editor’s Note: this article was amended to reflect a clarification from American Water regarding their rates.
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