Diane Taniguchi-Dennis moves up from deputy to top spot on Sept. 1 after retirement of Bill Gaffi, who has served 24 years.

Diane Taniguchi-Dennis will step up to succeed Bill Gaffi as the general manager of Clean Water Services, which covers the urban areas of Washington County.

County commissioners, who double as the governing board of Clean Water Services, approved the appointment Tuesday, Aug. 7.

"I have great faith that the agency will be in good hands," said Board Chairman Andy Duyck, who was a commissioner-elect when Gaffi was named general manager in 1994. Washington County's population then was nearing 400,000; today, it is closing in on 600,000, most coming under Clean Water Services.

Gaffi, who turns 70 this month, is retiring on Aug. 31.

"You have changed this organization and guided it in a positive way," said Duyck, who is retiring at the end of the year.

Gaffi has said that one of his achievements as general manager, aside from broadening the mission of wastewater treatment, is the team that runs the agency.

"It's been a labor of love," he said. "We have good people there — and your support (as a board) has been critical to our success."

Taniguchi-Dennis, now 57, came to the agency as deputy general manager in 2011. She takes over the top job on Sept. 1.

Her salary is $225,000.

For 12 years before she came to Clean Water Services, she was city engineer and assistant public works director, and since 2003, was public works director for Albany.

During her tenure there, she oversaw completion of a joint wastewater treatment and reclamation plant for the cities of Albany and Millersburg, and a 40-acre wetland for the cities that feeds into the Willamette River.

It is similar to Fernhill Wetlands, 700 acres managed by Clean Water Services, Forest Grove and the Fernhill Wetlands Council. Such wetlands remove nutrients and cool treated wastewater before the water is returned to rivers. The alternative would be expensive energy-guzzling cooling systems.

Taniguchi-Dennis earned a bachelor's degree in 1983 from Cornell University, and a master's degree in business administration in 2008 from the Atkinson Graduate School of Management at Willamette University.

She sits on three national boards: National Association of Clean Water Agencies, WateReuse, and Water Research Foundation.

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