WSSC’s Jerry Johnson Announces His Retirement
After 5 ½ years of leading one of the nation’s largest water/wastewater utilities, Washington Suburban Sanitary Commission (WSSC) General Manager and CEO Jerry N. Johnson is retiring.
Johnson has informed WSSC Commissioners that he does not wish to pursue another renewal of his contract when it expires at the end of June.
“We have nothing but the highest respect for Mr. Johnson and all he has accomplished here on behalf of the customers,” says WSSC Chair Omar Boulware. “He came to WSSC at a very difficult time, but leaves after putting us on a strategic path of modernization, improving customer service and replacement of an aging infrastructure that will ensure that the people of Montgomery and Prince George’s counties will never be without life’s most precious resource.”
Johnson joined WSSC in September of 2009 after 12 years at DC Water, then known as DC WASA. With the reputation as a turn-around specialist, he oversaw that utility’s transition from a department of the District of Columbia government to an independent agency.
His task at WSSC was different. WSSC, founded in 1918, was a well-established water/wastewater utility, but was in need of upgrading and rejuvenation. His accomplishments include: modernizing an IT foundation with many legacy programs; overseeing the development of a new Minority Business Enterprise program; initiating a transformational Supply Chain Management procurement strategy; maintaining a financially-sound utility with a AAA bond rating; the ongoing rehabilitation of the sewer system under a Federal Consent Decree; and, moving WSSC’s underground infrastructure toward sustainability by increasing the miles of water main replaced each year to 55.
“By nature, this is challenging, heading a multi-faceted agency like WSSC,” says Johnson. “We provide water/wastewater services which are the number one defense against disease. WSSC is a state agency with state legislative oversight, yet our budget is approved by the two counties. WSSC regulates plumbers and restaurants, and we must comply with a plethora of federal and state regulations. We operate two reservoirs and maintain the watershed around them, and I am very proud of what we have been able to accomplish with the watershed.”
After 40-plus years working in the public sector, during which he has received a number of honors and awards, Johnson wants to spend more time with his family. In the meantime, he remains committed to WSSC. “This does not change what we have to get done as an organization and there are a number of things I want to accomplish before I leave.”
One of those tasks is to support the Commissioners’ search for a successor. Chair Boulware says a nationwide search is getting underway, and replacing Johnson will be a challenge. “He has represented WSSC with distinction. He is an industry leader with an international reputation,” says Boulware. “But we will find the right person to continue what we have already begun.”
Mr. Johnson’s bio can be located at https://www.wsscwater.com/sites/wssc/about-us/our-governance/general-manager.html