Only 3% of the water on Earth is freshwater. Of that 3%, only 1% is available as drinking water. The other 2% is frozen in polar ice caps.
The Boston Water and Sewer Commission (BWSC) was established in 1977 pursuant to a “home rule” petition adopted by the City of Boston and enacted by the Massachusetts Legislature as the Boston Water and Sewer Reorganization Act of 1977, Chapter 436 of the Acts of 1977 of the Commonwealth (the Act). The Act states that a three-member Board of Commissioners, appointed by the Mayor of Boston and subject to confirmation by the City Council, will oversee BWSC’s activities. The Board’s primary responsibility is to ensure the sound, economical and efficient maintenance of the water and sewer systems for the citizens of Boston. The Executive Director of BWSC convenes a Commissioners’ meeting once a month to report on the status of the BWSC. The Act also provides that Board members be appointed to serve four-year staggered terms and must maintain residency with the City.
Any Board member may be reappointed; any Board member may be removed by the Mayor for cause at any time subject to a public hearing procedure. At least one Board member must have extensive experience in finance and accounting. Board members are not compensated for their services, but are reimbursed for expenses necessarily incurred in the performance of their duties. If the Mayor does not fill a vacancy on the Board within 90 days (or in the case of an unexpired term, within 60 days), the Act provides that such vacancy may be filled by majority vote of the City Council.
To read a biography of a Commissioner or the Executive Director, click on a name below.
Paul G. Afonso was appointed Chairman of the Board in May 2012. (Term expires January 4, 2016).
Mr. Afonso is Counsel at Brown Rudnick LLP where he is a Co-Practice Leader of two of the firm's practice groups, Energy, Utilities & Environmental as well as Boston Government Law & Strategies. With 20 years of energy, legislative and regulatory experience, Mr. Afonso is noted for his expertise in market and regulatory issues relating to the electricity, gas, water, cable television and telecommunications sectors. He also serves on Braemar Energy Ventures' Strategic Advisory Board.
Mr. Afonso is the former Chairman and General Counsel of the Massachusetts Department of Public Utilities (formerly the Department of Telecommunications and Energy). He also served as Chairman of the Energy Facilities Siting Board, the agency charged with reviewing major generation, electric transmission, gas storage facilities and certain gas pipeline projects. Prior to joining the DTE, Mr. Afonso was in private practice and served as General Counsel to The Bristol Group, Inc. in Washington D.C. He practiced in the areas of commercial and international trade law with an emphasis on joint venture projects, trade litigation and legislative counseling.
He is a graduate of Boston College and the Georgetown University Law Center. He is a board member of Rebuilding Together Boston and a member of the Portuguese-American Leadership Council.
Cathleen Douglas Stone was appointed a member of the Board in August, 1994 and re-appointed in October of 2013. (Term expires January 1, 2018).
Ms. Stone is presently Special Assistant to the Mayor for environmental affairs. In 1994, she was appointed the City's first Chief of Environmental Services and served in this position until 1997. As Chief of Environmental Services, Ms. Stone directed the Mayor's Environmental Cabinet.
Prior to her tenure as the Chief of Environmental Services, Ms. Stone was of counsel and a partner of the Boston Law firm Foley, Hoag & Eliot where her practice encompassed environmental and administrative law issues.
Muhammad Ali-Salaam was appointed a member of the Board in April 1997 and was reappointed in January 2011. (Term expires January 1, 2015.)
Muhammad Ali-Salaam is a Conciliation Specialist with the US Department of Justice Community Relations Service. He recently retired from the City of Boston, after 32 years of service. Mr. Ali-Salaam has been actively involved with community development issues concerning every neighborhood of Boston and currently sits on the Board of Directors of the Boston Water & Sewer Commission; and the Museum of African American History.
In 2007, Mr. Ali-Salaam received the “FBI Directors’ Community Leadership Award” for his work in training law enforcement on the Islamic religion and cultures. Mr. Ali-Salaam is a graduate of the Catholic University of America, Washington D.C., and Syracuse University, Syracuse NY.
Henry F. Vitale was appointed Executive Director of the Boston Water and Sewer Commission on July 16, 2013, after serving as Acting Executive Director for six months. Mr. Vitale has served as Chief Financial Officer and Treasurer for 18 years and has been with the Commission since 1992. Mr. Vitale holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting from Boston College and is a certified public accountant. Mr. Vitale has several years’ experience in the field of accounting and finance and is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants, the National Society of Public Accountants and the Massachusetts Society of Certified Public Accountants. Mr. Vitale is also a member of the Government Finance Officers Association, the American Water Works Association and several other community and professional organizations.