Wednesday, June 02, 2010

They're all wet

General Superintendent for Water and Sewer Joe McIntyre was featured in an ad this morning paid for by Trenton Yes. The ad, the latest in a series aimed at convincing voters to approve the sale of the outlaying water system to New Jersey American Water (NJAW) shows, McIntyre posing at what we presume to be one of the water works facilities.

If you don’t already know it, Trenton YES is completely funded and managed by NJAW. And the photo was quite probably taken during a recent visit to Water Utility facilities by NJAW staff as outlined in this article from the Trentonian.

The headline of the ad is intended to look like a quote from Mr. McIntyre.

“People think we’re selling Trenton Water Works. That is simply not true. Everything in the city stays the same.”
Really? Reducing the utility’s customer base by over 60% is equivalent to staying “the same?” How many businesses do you know that can lose more than half of their customers and stay solvent without raising rates for the remaining clientele?

The ad continues with another quote.

“We’re just selling township assets. We’re selling a bunch of old pipe. We’re selling some water towers…and two small booster stations. That’s it.”
Since the Trenton YES people like to play semantics police, what would be sold if the plan is approved is not “township assets.” It is, in fact, assets belonging to the people of Trenton that are located in the neighboring townships that would be sold. So Trenton assets, not township assets, would be sold. Mr. McIntyre…if he actually made these statements, should know better.

We’re selling a bunch of old pipe” is not exactly accurate either. The suburban infrastructure is newer than the system that serves the city of Trenton. We are keeping the “old pipe” and selling off the newer stuff.

And about those water towers…engineering studies have indicated that without those towers, water pressure in certain areas of the city could experience dangerously low water pressures in times of emergency.

To be sure there is a lot to consider when looking at this proposed water deal. But it really comes down to a a couple of basic facts:

The outside water system is a major part of the value of the entire Trenton Water Utility. Without that (growing) customer base the utility will have a hard time remaining solvent based solely on servicing the Trenton customers…even after water rate increases.

IF the deal is so good for Trenton, why has NJAW spent more than $178,000 from May 4 to May 17 (and a whole lot more since judging from the mailings and ads we’ve seen) to convince the voters approve the sale?

IF the deal is so good for Trenton, why did NJAW spend an estimated $175,000 (based upon the legal fees paid by the City of Trenton in the same fight) to prevent the voters from having a say on the sale?
We can not accept or believe anything NJAW/Trenton Yes has to say to us about this deal.

Nor can we accept or believe anything that Mr. McIntyre purports to say in these advertisements. After all, it was Mr. McIntyre who had yet to complete a cost savings analysis on the sell off of the suburban system on January 22, 2009. That was the very day that Mayor Palmer addressed council and told them he had been working on this for nearly a decade. The very day that Mayor Palmer stated that the city had “held out” for the $80 million sale price.*

Neither one of these gentlemen appear to know what they are talking about.

Just vote NO!
*Public records indicate that NJAW was willing to pay $100 million for the outside system but the NJ Board of Public Utilities actually reduced the sale price to $75 million + $5 million for "consultative services" to be provided by Mr. McIntyre and his staff.


Anonymous said...

McIntyre - Lack of Credibility
Over 55% of the pipes in Hamilton are new. Over 66% of the pipes in Ewing are new. Over 75% of the pipes in Lawrence are new. 100% of the pipes in Hopewell are new. He is supposed to be a professional. Obviously, he is not. So how can McIntyre say "We’re selling a bunch of old pipe." Budget documents show and employees confirm that McIntyre got a 50% raise to do the bidding of the Palmer folks. He now makes more than $145,000 a year. By the way, only 13% of the pipe in the City is new pipe.

Anonymous said...

"Anonymous" posts a lot of statistics about the percentage of "new" pipe in the various suburbs, but fails to post the most critical piece of information: What is his (or her) definition of "new"? One year old? Five? Twenty-five? Since properly-installed cast iron pipe typically lasts AT LEAST 50 years and often lasts 100 years or more, these numbers without context tell us exactly nothing.

While we are on the subject of lacking context, I must ask the author of the original blog to furnish the factual basis for his/her statement that Trenton's water utility cannot remain solvent without the growing suburban customer base. Since that statement is ludicrous on its face, I can only assume that it has no basis... at least no rational basis.

Old Mill Hill said...

Anonymous to respond to Anonymous #2?

Anonymous #2...we've been lead to believe that the pipes in the outlaying section of the existing water system are old and falling apart. Common sense tells us that they are newer than the Trenton part of the system. Since the majority of development in the townships has occured since the 1960's, we can assume that most of the outlaying pipes are no more than 50 years old or less (our guess is that most of them are less than 50 years old). Compare that with the city infrastructure which is 100 years old...giver or take.

As to the solvency question...look at the spreadsheets available at based upon the city's own figures. They show growing deficits without the income from the outside water system.

Anonymous said...

Water utility records define new pipe as ductile iron pipe. Ductile iron pipe replaced cast iron pipe as a widely used standard in the water industry after 1955. The oldest of the new pipe in the water system is about 50 years old. Ductile iron pipe is considered to have a useful life of about 100 years or longer. Since its installation in the Trenton water system, Trenton has not had a break or failure of that pipe.