Tschupp moves into higher-paying civil-service job

Ed Tschupp has resigned from his post as manager and chief engineer of the Kaua’i Department of Water, and will join Mayor Bryan J. Baptiste’s administration as the new chief of the wastewater division of the county Department of Public Works.

As head of the DOW, Tschupp served at the behest of members of the Board of Water Supply. His new position, which comes with a hefty pay raise, is also a civil-service position.

The DOW is a semiautonomous branch of county government.

Tschupp’s resignation is effective Jan. 31. Tschupp steps into his new job on Feb. 1, replacing Mel Matsumura, who retired Dec. 31 following some 30 years with DPW and DOW.

“I truly feel that the water department represents the best of government service, and I will miss the people here as well as the board, and the close independent way in which the department operates,” said Tschupp.

At the same time, he said, “I hope that I will be able to make a positive impact at the wastewater division, and help that organization in successfully overcoming the many challenges they have with aging infrastructure and building for the future.”

Additionally, Tschupp said, the change will further his professional development, rounding out his experience in both water and wastewater utility management.

Tschupp reportedly informed Board of Water Supply members of his resignation earlier this week.

Some Board of Water Supply members, in brief interviews with The Garden Island, said they were sorry to see Tschupp resign, but said board members were not authorized to match the salary of the wastewater position Tschupp has accepted.

The wastewater position reportedly pays about $90,000 a year, and Tschupp’s yearly salary with the DOW was about $70,000, a Board of Water Supply member said.

“I think he was reluctant in leaving, but his decision was based on the salary differentials,” said Board of Water Supply member Bernie Sakoda.

She said the board members didn’t have the “authority to match the salary” of the county job, and could not “based on the limits set by the salary ordinance.”

“The salary of an appointed position is set by county ordinance,” she said. “And our board cannot match the salary of the head of the Wastewater Division.”

Water board members were not available to comment on how soon a search would be instituted to find a replacement for Tschupp.

Ian Costa, the county’s planning director and an ex-officio member of the Board of Water Supply, said Tschupp told him in mid-December that he was interested in the county job.

Sakoda and Costa praised Tschupp for his accomplishments. They credit him for moving ahead with Water Plan 2020, a 20-year plan by DOW leaders to upgrade the county’s public-water system, and helping to bring to completion the building of Grove Farm Company’s multimillion-dollar, surfacewater treatment and purification system in Hanama’ulu.

The system, online now, has the capability of treating three million gallons of water daily for use in Lihu’e, Hanama’ulu and Puhi, and was created to make up for diminishing underground water.

The availability of water opens the way for the building of market-price homes and much-needed affordable homes in Hanama’ulu.

Sakoda said Tschupp was “definitely an asset to the department.”

Costa said Tschupp’s move to the county’s DPW, headed by County Engineer and Board of Water Supply member Donald Fujimoto, will benefit the department.

“I think he brings some energy, and the ability to expedite and move projects (as evidenced by the forward progress of Water Plan 2020 and Tschupp’s legislative experience in lobbying for state funds to build capital-improvement projects),” Costa said.

Costa said the DOW is “losing a valuable manager.”

Fujimoto said he is looking forward to Tschupp joining the DPW.

“Ed brings a tremendous amount of experience with him. I am confident that he will do a great job in fulfilling his responsibilities as wastewater division chief,” he said.

Longtime county workers said county leaders lost a valuable employee in Matsumura, as he has worked for the Public Works Department and the Water Department for some 30 years, including the last five years as head of the Wastewater Division.

In his new county job, Tschupp should look to up-grade and increase the capacity of the county’s wastewater system, Costa said.

The wastewater system operates in parts of downtown Kapa’a and Wailua, in Lihu’e and Puhi, and in parts of South Kaua’i, including ‘Ele’ele.

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