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As it turns 115, water utility stresses attention to infrastructure

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While Middlesex Water Co. continues to change its operations and invest in technology to meet New Jersey's evolving water needs, the investor-owned utility's top executive said one thing that has remained consistent throughout the company's 115-year history is its struggle to comply with increasingly stringent government water quality regulations.

“The regulatory processes for utilities in New Jersey have been in place for many years, and overall, I believe they work reasonably well,” Middlesex Water chairman, president and CEO Dennis W. Doll said in a statement. “But in my mind, there is nothing easy about operating a regulated utility business in New Jersey — or in any other state for that matter.”

Doll said heavy regulatory burdens, alongside “increasing attention on the state of infrastructure,” has pushed Middlesex Water to “better and continuously educate our customers, government officials and others about why our ability to maintain the infrastructure and to sustain reliable utility services comes with an ever-increasing cost that, ultimately, translates into increases in water rates … mak(ing) it an ongoing challenge to keep water and wastewater utility services affordable for the consumer.”

For more than a century, Doll said, Middlesex Water has made significant investments in water infrastructure and technology platforms that have paid dividends to shareholders, noting the company recently formed a joint venture public-private partnership with Ridgewood and Natural Systems Utilities to power the municipality’s wastewater treatment plant through clean energy, which is already earning a return on investment.

In addition to growing its service area into Delaware and Pennsylvania, Doll said the company has expanded into wastewater, contract and bio-gas operations, and implemented real-time monitoring technology to reduce operating costs and better locate potential infrastructure investments.

“In a book written about our 100th anniversary, we have a picture of one of our meter readers in a horse-drawn carriage, circa 1910. Now, in our 115th year of service, our fleet is equipped with Panasonic ToughBook computers, which provide our service crews with in-depth info about every pipe, valve and hydrant in our service area,” Doll said. “We have come a long way.”

 

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