Suez poised to aid in efforts to bring companies to Coastal Zone sites

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Gernath with Gov. John Carney. Suez photo.
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North America CEO  for Suez says the company is poised to aid efforts to redevelop properties in the Coastal Zone.

Eric Gernath met with Gov. John Carney regarding  11 sites in Suez’s northern Delaware territory that were the subject of legislation that eased regulations under the Coastal Zone Act.

Suez is a multinational company based in Paris.

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The legislation will allow redevelopment of the sites. Up until recently,  prospective industries have bypassed sites in Delaware, due to Coastal Zone Act provisions that make redevelopment by a new owner virtually impossible.

Most of the sites in the Claymont and Delaware City areas are in the service territory of Suez, formerly United Water. Sites include the former Claymont Steel, Chemours Edgemoor and General Chemical.

Gernath says Suez is committing 120 million gallons a month of water to ensure that new industries will have an adequate supply of water.

Suez also comes with expertise and technology in water treatment and recycling  Last year, the company acquired the GE industrial water business for $3.4 billion.

The lucrative business was at one time owned by Wilmington’s Hercules, now Ashland.  Hercules later sold the water business to GE.

The industrial initiative could have a beneficial impact on the bills of current customers since additional industrial water sales would generate revenue that would limit upward pressure on rates, Gernath noted.

One selling point for prospective companies comes with Suez’s rates, which are substantially below those of other suppliers in northern Delaware.

Northern Delaware is unique among water utilities operated by Suez, due to a large number of  industrial customers.

One question that might arise involves long-running efforts to build water supplies in Delaware and whether United can make the commitment.

Tom Hubbard, Delaware public affairs manager for Suez,  said government and University of Delaware officials who monitor the state’s water resources, believe that adequate supplies exist.

Projects, such as the Newark Reservoir and the expansion of  Hoopes Reservoir near Wilmington,  have added to supplies, Hubbard said.

Previous proposals for a large reservoir have stalled over environmental issues.

Suez plans to build water tanks near its headquarters and treatment plan in Stanton to further improve the reliability of its supplies.

Gernath stressed that Suez keeps a lid on costs while investing in its Delaware water system.

The utility is now using technology to determine areas of piping in need of replacement, rather than simply replacing a set amount of pipe, Gernath said.

Suez employs 60 at its Delaware operations.

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