By John Schaffner

Rob Hunter
Rob Hunter

Atlanta’s Chief Operating Officer Peter Aman announced Sept. 7 that Department of Watershed Management (DWM) Commissioner Rob Hunter will resign as of Friday, Sept. 10.

Hunter, who had become the focus of Buckhead community outrage over excessively high water bills in recent months, will continue to serve as a technical adviser on issues, including the consent decree modification, until the end of the year and will assist with the transition of the department.

Aman is making other organizational changes at DWM and announced that newly appointed Deputy Commissioner for the Department of Public Works, Dexter White, will serve as DWM interim commissioner. White brings 16 years of experience as a department head, including 10 years as a Public Works Director, and has extensive experience with complex watershed issues.

In his previous roles, White established a stormwater utility program, implemented and managed the water line replacement plan and managed a water meter replacement program. White also established a four-year program for Sanitary Sewers Evaluation System (SSES). White will continue to focus on improving customer service and thoroughly reviewing the billing operations of DWM.

“With Rob’s departure, we are working to ensure the steady transition of leadership at the Department of Watershed Management. I have the utmost confidence in Dexter White and his abilities to lead this department,” said Aman.

In addition, James Beard was named the new deputy commissioner of finance for DWM, replacing interim deputy commission Angelo Veney, who will remain with the department.

“I came to the city eight years ago to implement the federally mandated consent decrees, manage the $4 billion capital program and organize the Department of Watershed Management,” Hunter said. “By the end of the year I will have substantially accomplished those goals.”

Mayor Kasim Reed said, “I thank Commissioner Hunter for his years of public service. His dedication of working to comply with the consent decrees has allowed billions of development investment dollars in Atlanta through the avoidance of a sewer moratorium.”

Hunter was named Commissioner of the Department of Watershed Management in July 2004. Prior to that appointment, he served as Deputy Commissioner for Engineering since

November 2002. He was intimately involved in the organization of the department, which, for the first time, incorporated the city’s wastewater and drinking water systems and operations into one unit.

Hunter worked closely with the Mayor’s office and the Atlanta City Council to develop and

implement the 2004 and 2008 water and sewer rate increase packages and the sales tax (MOST) public referendums, which have enabled DWM to continue funding an operational budget in excess of $500 million and capital improvements and rehabilitation for the drinking water and wastewater systems.

John Schaffner was founding editor of Reporter Newspapers.