Trenton, N.J. — Advancing his commitment to return Trenton Water Works (TWW) to its position as a leading public-water system in the U.S., Mayor W. Reed Gusciora today announced his appointment of Mark Lavenberg as Acting Director of the city’s Department of Water & Sewer, which operates TWW. Mr. Lavenberg, a water-industry executive, was recommended to the Mayor by a search committee formed to review potential candidates, and chaired by Fire Director Derrick Sawyer. He will officially start his new role on August 3.
“Effective transformation and organizational excellence begin with the right leader,” said Mayor Gusciora. “Mark Lavenberg reflects everything that my administration has been seeking: proven leadership, deep experience in the water industry, and a discipline for getting things done. He is passionate about our capital city, our residents and businesses, and our water utility, and I am grateful that he has agreed to serve the people of Trenton in this important role.”
Mr. Lavenberg is an accomplished water-industry professional with 32 years experience managing both large and small water systems. He has long been committed operationally to producing the highest quality drinking water amid a complex and ever-changing state and federal regulatory landscape that is among the strictest in the world.
“I am excited about this opportunity to serve the city of Trenton and work with TWW’s well-trained, dedicated staff at what I believe is one of the best-engineered water systems in America,” said Lavenberg, who was TWW’s licensed operator in 2019 under contract with Operations Services, Inc., whose contract with the city ends this summer. TWW’s leadership team has stopped its reliance on outside contractors for day-to-day operations, strengthening its in-house human resources, employee training and workplace culture. TWW has added 70 new employees since September 2019, reducing its vacancy rate to 5 percent from 45 percent.
The Department of Water & Sewer was created by ordinance in the fall of 2018, a strategic move by the Gusciora administration to prioritize the reorganization and modernization of TWW after many years of mismanagement and neglect under previous administrations. TWW currently operates under two Administrative Consent Orders (ACO) issued by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection: to comprehensively improve operations and to come into compliance with the Lead and Copper Rule.
The City of Trenton purchased Trenton Water Works for $88,000 in 1859, although its recorded beginnings date back to 1801. TWW is one of the oldest water systems in the U.S., with the Delaware River as a reliable raw-water source and a 100-million-gallon open reservoir that will be replaced with a network of decentralized storage tanks under TWW’s 6-year, $405 million capital plan. TWW has been busy creating a blueprint for excellence in water quality, water storage, water distribution, operations and staffing.
TWW’s other top projects and priorities include: a $150-million Lead Service Line Replacement Program; a $20-million Meter Upgrade Project; expansion of a corrosion-control project; reconstruction of the water-filtration plant’s raw-water intake to make it more resilient; additional customer-service enhancements; and strengthening of its communications with internal and external communities.
In the last 12 months, TWW has made substantial progress. While developing a comprehensive capital plan, the water utility launched Phase 1 of its Lead Service Line Replacement Program, which has replaced almost 600 lead services between February and June 2020. The utility has performed a number of other key projects, including the launch of its corrosion-control project (zinc orthophosphate); rehabilitation of the Ewing Booster Station; completion of a water-main extension in Ewing Township that restored fire suppression to 400 homes; the introduction of Invoice Cloud, a payment portal that offers customers more ways to manage and pay their TWW bills; and the establishment of the Office of Communications and Community Relations to handle outreach through print, Facebook and traditional media, photography, special events, and emergency response.
# # #
Photo Caption: TWW Acting Director Mark Lavenberg at the Ewing Elevated Tank on Silvia Street in Ewing Township.
Photo Credit: Trenton Water Works