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Richard Zang Retires From Water & Sewer Authority

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After 27 years of service on the town’s Water & Sewer Authority (WSA), Richard Zang of Sandy Hook has retired from that post. The seven-member appointive agency administers the town’s two sanitary sewer systems and its public water supply system.

Mr Zang joined the WSA in 1992. He served as its chairman from 1997 to 2014, and as a member for the past five years. He retired from the WSA on July 31, leaving a vacancy on the panel.

Mr Zang, who is a mechanical engineer by training, was well-equipped to review the technical issues which the WSA addresses. As an engineer in private industry, he specialized in sewer systems and water supply systems. At many WSA sessions over the past quarter century, Mr Zang would raise technical issues about wastewater cleansing, a prime topic of discussion as WSA meetings.

Until 2004, the agency had been known as the Water Pollution Control Authority. After the town bought the Fairfield Hills core campus from the state in 2004, the agency’s name was changed to the Water & Sewer Authority because it was then given jurisdiction over the public water supply system for Fairfield Hills, which was a component of the town’s purchase.

The WSA oversees the separate municipal sanitary sewer systems which serve the town center and Hawleyville, as well as the water system which provides drinking water for Fairfield Hills, Nunnawauk Meadows, and Garner Correctional Institution.

Mr Zang noted that he became a member of the WSA just as the town was preparing to design a sewer system for the town center. That sewer system, which started operation in 1997, was built to resolve the many individual septic system failures that had occurred in the town center due to its “hardpan” soils, which prevented individual septic systems from working properly.

In contrast, the Hawleyville sanitary sewer system, which began operation in 2001, was constructed to stimulate economic development. That system discharges wastewater to a regional wastewater treatment plant in Danbury.

In A History of the Newtown Sewer System — Its Planning, Design, Construction and Operation,” published in 2014, Mr Zang, its author, described the technical issues concerning local wastewater cleansing and disposal.

The history, which contains a technically detailed text, photos, maps, charts, and diagrams, explains the origins of the two sewer systems.

Mr Zang said he was very interested in the design phase of the central sewer system, which ran from the early- to mid-1990s when the town was deciding exactly what needed to be built and where to build it, in terms of wastewater disposal. Consulting engineering firm Fuss & O’Neill designed the central sewer system.

“We were very happy to see that they were the lowest and best experienced bidder,” Mr Zang said of the firm.

The central sewer system’s design planning required many long WSA meetings at which WSA members and the public discussed at length the project’s design issues. A series of those meetings addressed the politically sensitive issue of where to locate the sewer mains that would serve the Main Street corridor.

Mr Zang noted that the central sewer system’s treatment plant at 24 Commerce Road has received awards for the quality of its wastewater cleansing.

The town has a contract with Suez Water Environmental Services to operate the plant, which has a daily treatment capacity of 934,000 gallons. A majority of the plant’s capacity is reserved for use by the state.

In his years as a mechanical engineer while working for various firms, Mr Zang visited about 100 treatment plants in the United States and Canada, he noted.

“I have seen good and bad,” he said of operations at those plants. “It’s the quality of the people,” he said, regarding what differentiates good plants from bad plants.

Firms that he has worked for include the consulting engineering companies Tarlton Engineering of Danbury and Metcalf & Eddy of New York City, as well the equipment manufacturers Dorr-Oliver of Stamford and Nichols Engineering of New York City. Also, he has worked for Texaco and Pepsi.

Of Mr Zang’s departure from WSA, First Selectman Dan Rosenthal said August 7, “Thank you doesn’t seem like enough for someone that gave nearly 30 years of service to our community as a member of the Water and Sewer Authority.

“There is no question that Newtown has benefited from, and will miss the institutional knowledge and consistency that Dick Zang provided,” the first selectman added. “I wish Dick and his wife Joanne all the best.”

Other Interests

A member of Newtown Choral Society since 1986, Mr Zang sings bass parts at its two choral concerts that are held annually. He also is a member of the St Rose Church Choir, having sung with that group for 46 years.

A former New York resident, Mr Zang has lived in Sandy Hook since 1973.

Mr Zang explains that he is fond of singing in barbershop quartets, having sung in such units for the past 60 years. Among the groups he has sung with are the Danbury Madhatters, the New York Skyline Chorus of Manhattan, and the Sunrise Serenaders of Long Island.

Besides singing, Mr Zang enjoys reading, recently having read The Mueller Report. At the recent Booth Library used book sale at Reed Intermediate School, he obtained a copy of The Federalist Papers.

“Mainly, I read non-fiction,” he said.

Mr Zang and his wife Joanne have two grown children, Daryl Zang Maurath, who is a fine artist living in Newtown, and Edward Zang, of New Jersey, who is in the financial industry.

Richard Zang of Sandy Hook has retired from the town Water & Sewer Authority after 27 years of service on that appointive agency. —Bee Photo, Gorosko
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1 comment
  1. dazang says:

    Thank you for the Bee’s wonderful article regarding my brother Dick Zang’s WSA retirement; Recognition, Accomplishments, Background and Likes.
    !!! YOU NAILED IT !!!
    However, allow me to add: His Athleticism; soccer player and coach, golfer, skier, etc.

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