Nassau County, N.Y., has selected New Jersey-based United Water to operate and improve the county’s three troubled wastewater treatment plants.
“We have a long and proud history of service excellence in the many communities we serve throughout the United States,” said Bertrand Camus, chief executive officer of United Water. “We will bring that expertise to help make the necessary improvements to Nassau County’s wastewater system.”
The company has managed wastewater systems in Indianapolis, Southern California and New York City.
The Long Island county expects the proposed public-private partnership to bring it an estimated $750 million. County Executive Edward Mangano said that would eliminate a quarter of the financially distressed county’s debt.
“Nassau County has the highest debt of any county in the state as past administrations racked up staggering debt while ignoring structural fiscal problems,” Mangano said. “It’s time to pay down this debt and take it off the backs of our children.”
Nassau County is currently under a state control board — the Nassau County Interim Finance Authority — which has the power to approve the county’s financial plan, all borrowings, and specifically, the proposed partnership. The chairman was not immediately available to comment.
Mangano said the so-called Debt Reduction and Sewer Stabilization Plan would stabilize Nassau County’s Sewer Authority, which faces bankruptcy in 2014, as the control board warned in its October 2009 report. The plan is also subject to approval by the county Legislature.
If approved, United Water would operate Nassau’s Bay Park, Cedar Creek and Glen Cove sewer treatment plants, which have fallen into a state of disrepair over the past decade. The company would begin operating and improving the facilities in early 2013.
Nassau County will host public information hearings on May 9 at the Cedar Creek Sewage Treatment Plant, May 16 at the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant and on May 17 at the Theodore Roosevelt Executive and Legislative building.
Nassau County’s general obligation bonds are rated A-plus by Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s, with stable outlooks. Moody’s Investors Service assigns an equivalent A1, with a negative outlook.