Rick Knowlton, left, and Mark Vannoy at Maine Water’s new Saco River Drinking Water Resource Center in Biddeford. Knowlton is retiring as company president in June and Vannoy is taking his place. Courtesy photo/Maureen Grandmaison

SACO — Richard Knowlton will be retiring as Maine Water’s president, effective June 17. Knowlton joined what is now Maine Water as vice president of operations in 1993 and became company president in 2017.

“The customers and communities of Maine Water will continue to benefit for years to come from Rick’s commitment to providing high-quality water service and his leadership of the Maine Water team in that mission,” said Maureen P. Westbrook, president of CTWS, which is the New England subsidiary of SJW Group that includes Maine Water. “He has been ‘the face of Maine Water’ in the communities and with state officials for decades and is leaving a remarkable legacy of investing in drinking water infrastructure so customers will have high-quality water and excellent customer service. Rick has embraced Maine Water’s commitment to the environment, which will also benefit current and future generations of Mainers.”

With his engineering background, Knowlton was involved in water infrastructure projects, large and small across Maine Water — engaged in the planning, construction and regulatory approvals. He has worked to ensure that cost-effective investments were made to improve water quality and enhance service in all of Maine Water’s service communities.

Knowlton played a critical role in the design and construction of the $7.2 million Mirror Lake Drinking Water Treatment Plant completed in 2010 that serves customers in the Camden-Rockland Division, and the nearly completed $60 million Saco River Drinking Water Resource Center that will replace the 1884 water treatment plant currently serving Biddeford-Saco Division customers. Both of those facilities are built to be energy and operationally efficient, incorporating solar energy in the design at both sites.

In the 29 years that Knowlton has been with Maine Water, or its predecessor companies, the company has grown from serving 40,000 people in 16 communities to serving 80,000 people in 21 communities. In addition, Knowlton has had a part in the following system investments:

• 7 new water treatment facilities
• 9 new water storage tanks; and
• Installation of over 200,000 feet, or about 38 miles, of water main.

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After becoming president, Knowlton led Maine Water’s partnership with the Coastal Mountains Land Trust to preserve 1,300 acres of open space on the south side of Ragged Mountain in the communities of Rockport and Hope; the acreage now hosts part of the Round the Mountain Trail.

Mark Vannoy, vice president of Maine Water, will become president upon Knowlton’s retirement. Prior to joining the company in 2019, Vannoy served on the Maine Public Utility Commission and was chair for four years beginning in 2014.

“We are fortunate to have a leader of Mark’s caliber become president,” Westbrook said. “Mark has been assuming increased responsibilities for day-to-day operations while Rick focused on completion of the new Saco River Drinking Water Resource Center. Mark’s commitment to a culture of service, technical expertise and respect for the environment will serve employees, customers and communities well.” She further noted that Mark is a natural to lead the business with his technical experience as an engineer and his credibility as a former regulator.

“Maine Water will be in good and capable hands,” Knowlton said. “Mark and I have worked closely together over the past three years, and he is a natural and accomplished leader committed to serving our Maine employees and communities. We will use the next six weeks to meet with employees and local and state leaders to complete a smooth transition.”

Vannoy is a retired U.S. Navy officer and a graduate of the United States Naval Academy; he holds a master’s degree in civil and environmental engineering from Cornell University. He lives in Waldoboro with his family and is active in the local community.

Maine Water is a wholly owned subsidiary of SJW Group’s New England subsidiary, Connecticut Water Service, Inc. Maine Water and its predecessor companies have been serving customers in the state of Maine since 1880. The company provides water service to a population of more than 80,000 in 21 communities across Maine.