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November 02. 2012 1:04AM

Longtime director Bowen leaving Manchester Water Works

MANCHESTER - The city's Water Works Department will have a new name atop its chain of command next year, after longtime Director Thomas Bowen notified Mayor Ted Gatsas he will retire in January.

"After 42 years and nine months, I've decided it's time," said Bowen. "I'll miss it. I've enjoyed it, but I'm ready for this."

"I could not imagine a better place to have spent my professional career than the Manchester Water Works or a better place to have raised my family than Manchester," Bowen said in an email to aldermen last month. "I've been very fortunate. I'd like to sincerely thank you for your support of this excellent department as well as me personally during your term as aldermen, and I would ask that you continue that support on behalf of the 160,000 people that we serve in the Greater Manchester area."

The Manchester Water Works is responsible for providing drinking water and fire protection to the city, as well as portions of Auburn, Bedford, Derry, Goffstown, Hooksett and Londonderry.

"I've known Tom since my days as a commissioner," said Gatsas. "Over 42 years, Tom has been nothing but a dedicated employee. He'll be taking a lot of institutional knowledge with him when he leaves."

Looking back over his career, Bowen said one of his proudest achievements came in January, when the city's Lake Massabesic Water Treatment Plant, which supplies drinking water to approximately 160,000 customers in the greater Manchester area, received the prestigious "Excellence in Water Treatment" award. The award is presented by the Partnership for Safe Water.

"We were only the 11th utility in the country to receive that award," said Bowen. "It's quite an achievement."

The Partnership for Safe Water, a voluntary program initiated by the EPA, challenges drinking water utilities across the nation to make improvements in water quality that go beyond regulatory standards.

Most of all, Bowen said he will remember the Water Works staff.

"I am very appreciative of all the hard-working people in the department that I have worked with over the years," said Bowen. "It can be a tough job, not always performed under the most ideal conditions, but I thank all of them."

The process to determine Bowen's successor will get under way in the coming weeks. His last day is Jan. 18, 2013.

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Paul Feely may be reached at pfeely@unionleader.com.


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