United Water to manage Nassau sewer system

The company will now handle wastewater treatment for a community of one million. United Water is also going to assist the county in a search to find an investor for its infrastructure.

A tender to take over wastewater management for Nassau County culminated in a pact to hand over control of the municipal sewer system to United Water, the Harrington Park, New Jersey water company said.

Nassau County is a one million household community in Long Island, New York. Last fall, Nassau moved ahead with a hotly debated plan to “monetise” its sewer system, issuing a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a private partner to operate, maintain and upgrade its wastewater management.

The county in its RFQ heralded its sewer system as a local monopoly that in 2010 generated more than $100 million in revenue. The county paid Morgan Stanley $5 million to draw up a plan to privatise its sewage system.

United Water will assume running the Nassau sewer system in 2013, but did not reveal a value for its contract with the county. The company did note Nassau will no longer charge or collect a fee for the system.

The company will now “assist the county in reducing its debt and improving its wastewater system” by helping Nassau search for an investor in its infrastructure. Rich Henning, senior vice president of United Water, could not be reached for comment.

United Water, owned by Suez Environment, is the second largest US water operator by revenue, earning $328 million in 2011. Veolia Water is ranked largest, with $660 million.

Business for the company on the East Coast, and New York in particular, has been picking up.

United Water in August secured a mandate to operate, manage and maintain wastewater treatment for Poughkeepsie, a town in upstate New York, and is close to securing a concession, along with private equity firm Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Company (KKR), to manage the sewer system for Bayonne, New Jersey.