D.C. Water and Sewer Authority General Manager Jerry N. Johnson will leave the agency this summer after 12 years amid continuing criticism of his agency's handling of the fallout from the discovery of excessive lead in the city's tap water five years ago, city sources said.
Johnson, who took over WASA in 1997 shortly after its creation as a quasi-independent agency, has been faulted for failing to disclose the discovery of lead contamination in 2004 and the health effects on the public, especially children.
The WASA Board of Directors voted today to come to an agreement with Johnson about his departure, which will come a year before his contract was due to expire, the sources said. Mayor Adrian M. Fenty (D), who appointed WASA Chairman William Walker, was said to be supportive of removing Johnson, the sources said. WASA will negotiate a buyout with Johnson and commence a search for a new chairman.
"I really appreciate the public service of Mr. Johnson, but this gives us real opportunity to have a new day at WASA where we can restore public confidence which needs to be restored at this time," said D.C. Council member Jim Graham, who chairs the Committee on Public Works and Transportation, which oversees WASA. "A new general manager will really make a difference."
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By David Nakamura and Carol D. Leonnig