Champi leaving post as Cumberland’s water superintendent

Champi leaving post as Cumberland’s water superintendent

CUMBERLAND – Chris Champi, a 30-year Water Department employee and superintendent for the past decade, is leaving for a similar municipal job in South County.

Champi, who said he actually began filling in on leading the department back in 2007, said he’s leaving for an opportunity he simply couldn’t pass up after reaching the magic 30-year point for his pension in early September. He said he didn’t go looking for the job, but it came to him.

This will be a new and “different adventure,” said Champi, who did not disclose the job he’s taking, but he’ll miss his time in Cumberland, where the department has accomplished much and he’s enjoyed working with everyone over multiple administrations.

Asked if frequent complaints about brown water ever got to him, Champi said not at all, and he’s enjoyed the challenges in Cumberland. Compared to the complaints the department was getting in 2010, when brown water complaints were a daily occurrence in the northern part of town, things are “substantially better” now and will keep improving, he said.

What helped make things better a decade ago was a wide-scale cleaning project and increased capacity with a new interconnection with Woonsocket, he said, helping to increase water levels in town tanks.

Champi, who plans to stay on through October, said he’s proud of the work that’s been accomplished during his tenure, as the water system now has problems almost entirely related to age rather than age and multiple other issues. Improvement will keep coming as long as the town keeps investing in its infrastructure, he told The Breeze.

Asked what kind of person should replace him, Champi said it should be someone “who’s willing to realize that it’s something you never complete,” and that water quality is an ongoing project that’s never all set. Infrastructure begins to deteriorate the day it’s installed, he said, and maintaining it requires “constant progress.”

Mayor Jeff Mutter said he learned from Champi late last week that he was planning a departure, saying the news came out of the blue. Champi has been at it for a long time in Cumberland, he said, often working through vacations to address problems, and his expertise and work ethic will be missed. He said he received no impression that his departure has anything to do with unhappiness with the Cumberland job.

Like any long-time employee, Champi’s institutional knowledge and talent will be sorely missed, he said.

Mutter said the town has started a search for Champi’s replacement, saying there’s an opportunity in play to look at how the department is structured and how it might align with the structure of the Public Works Department.

Thankfully, Champi has given the town some time to find his replacement, said Mutter, and he is the type of person to help out if needed.

Water service is more than just a job for Champi and others, said Mutter, and the outgoing superintendent has given his all to the job.

Comments

Going to be hard to replace a guy that good looking

That guy is a class act - not just good looking. He'll be sorely missed by all of us in Cumberland who have had the pleasure of dealing with this adorable man.

Cumberland water customers have been well served by Chris for three decades. Thank you, Chris, and I wish you well in your new post.