Trenton Water Works moved into 2020 with the start of its Lead Service Line Replacement Program and the appointment of a new acting director.

On Jan. 9, Mayor Reed Gusciora—accompanied by city councilman Joe Harrison, then-chief engineer David Smith, and community members—announced the launch of a TWW’s program to remove household pipe fixtures created prior to 1986, when the Safe Drinking Water Act banned lead in plumbing fixtures and pipes.

Trenton Water Works employees prepare to replace a lead service line.

Stressing that there is no lead in TWW-generated water as well as no state violations regarding water regulations since the last quarter of 2018, Gusciora said the project is addressing 1,000 homes whose owners registered when the program was announced in 2018.

Homes were selected on a “first come, first served” basis with more than 7,000 home owners registered.

The replacement project uses State of New Jersey and loan funding to remediate the pipes for a flat fee of $1,000. Actual costs range between $2,000 and $5,000.

According to TWW materials, the program that will eventually replace Trenton’s 37,000 lead pipes is part of a larger six-year, $405 million capital plan involving several projects, including upgrades to the water-filtration plant and water-distribution system, decentralized water storage, in-house engineering, control technology, improved security, facilities upgrades, and heavy equipment and fleet-vehicle replacements.

The following day Gusciora announced that Smith had been appointed and approved by council to serve as TWW’s acting director.

Smith replaced former DEP assistant commissioner and environmental law attorney Steve Picco, who assumed the position after acting director Shing-Fu Hsueh left in September, 2019. Hsueh is an environmental engineer, former official for the New Jersey DEP.

Rejected by council to continue as acting director, Picco continues as a TWW consultant to engage with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.

TWW chief engineer since June of 2019, Smith has a degree in bioenvironmental engineering from Rutgers University and 20 years of experience as a project or engineering manager for water systems throughout the tri-state area.

In 2019, Picco and Smith continued the work established by Hsueh to address and eliminate copper and lead DEP violations and to address a decade of problems that began during the previous city administrations.

TWW services more than 200,000 people in Trenton and parts of Hamilton, Ewing, Lawrence and Hopewell Townships.