LIVINGSTON, NJ - After two years of negotiations, the township will on Jan. 1 enter into a new agreement with New Jersey American Water Company which will reduce the amount of water the township purchases and save taxpayers money in the long run. It is one of the first steps in the township’s master water plan.

Township Manager Michele Meade explained that the township obtains some of its water from wells and purchases the rest. The current contract with New Jersey American is for 400 million gallons of water a year. Under the terms of the re-negotiated contract, that number will drop to 300 million gallons with the township agreeing to purchase the same amount of water on a daily basis at a lower rate once planned improvements to the town’s water system are made.

The savings will be reinvested and the water rate will be kept flat in 2012, Meade said, although she was unable to provide the exact amount of savings that would be achieved with the new contract. She added that sometime next year a consultant will present the township’s master water plan to the public and numbers would be available at that time.

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The new contract is for a 20-year period.

In addition, the council on Dec. 20 voted unanimously to approve a bond ordinance appropriating $560,000 for the construction of the Mountain Ridge booster station for the water utility system. The new booster station is another initial step in the town’s master water plan, Meade said, adding that savings from the new water contract will go towards making improvements to the infrastructure.

Council Member Stephen Santola, who worked on the contract along with Meade, credited her with making the new contract happen. He said she saw the opportunity to renegotiate the agreement to purchase water for less and to make improvements to take more water from ground wells thereby decreasing the water rate. He said that Meade has “a very unique understanding” of public administration and tenacity. “She negotiates hard,” Santola said, adding, “Michele, I give you a big shout out.”

In other business, the council approved an amendment to the Skate Park code that would impose a one-time fee of $50 for non-residents who use the park. Livingston residents will continue to use the park for free.

Council members at the end of the meeting congratulated Mayor Rudy Fernandez for completing his one-year term as mayor. Fernandez will return to the governing body as a council person on Jan. 2 and Santola will assume the mayor’s position.