SAYREVILLE, NJ–The Middlesex County Utilities Authority's seven-member board has a new member, as of August 18, when the Board of Chosen Freeholders approved the nomination of Robert Diehl.
Diehl, an Edison Councilman, replaces Robert Karabinchak on the powerful board, which controls the county's landfill and sewer systems in portions of three different counties.
Karabinchak left the authority's board to become a New Jersey Assemblyman earlier this year.
Diehl said the MCUA position, which is unpaid, is "an exciting new venture for me."
"It's a fascinating authority, it has to deal with soemthing that most people are not familiar with," said Diehl.
"It's not a glorious place to be," Assemblyman Karabinchak told NBToday in an exclusive interview, referring to the solid waste and wastewater industry. "But it's something that touches everybody."
Diehl says he brings his experience as an environmentalist to the MCUA board.
In a phone interview, Diehl said that he has previously served on the Edison Environmental Commission, the Edison Open Space Committee, and is also a commissioner on the state government's Dismal Swamp Committee.
"The environment has always been something that's important to us in Edison," said Diehl, who conceeded he was not really sure exactly what he would be able to contribute to the MCUA board.
Diehl recalled an exhibit his father took him to see at Rutgers University when he was seven years old. The exhibit highlighted the problem of pollution in the Raritan River.
"They declared it a dead river. Nothing was alive in it… It stayed with me to this day so many years later."
The MCUA has weathered a couple of scandals in recent years, including an expensive and complicated lawsuit brought by a contractor who alleged fraud and pay-to-play on the part of the agency, and the conviction of its longtime Treasurer who admitted to stealing thousands of public dollars.