City of New Brunswick Issues a Report on Unsafe Drinking Water

By: Brian Connors

The City of New Brunswick and American Water issued notices to the city’s residents on April 17 regarding 11 different incidents of unsafe drinking water being distributed from the city’s Water Treatment Plant.

The report stated that, “The New Brunswick Water Utility failed to allow for proper contact time,” in regards to the disinfection process and treatment of the city’s drinking water. There was a similar incident of unsafe drinking water being distributed in the summer of 2014. The city chose not to issue a report, causing public outrage and harsh media scrutiny. For this incident, the city decided to inform people on the quality of their drinking water.

As reported by New Brunswick Today, “drinking water distributed to New Brunswick, Milltown, and Franklin had not been in contact with chlorine for the required amount of time on eleven different dates in December 2014 and January 2015.”

The notice informed the public that the inadequate treatment did not properly inactivate a microscopic parasite called giardia lamblia, which can cause the disease giardiasis. It explains that, “Inadequately treated water may contain disease-causing organisms, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea, and associated headaches. If you have experienced any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice.”

The notice states that the issue has been resolved and that there is nothing that the public needs to do now.

Although the violations in treatment occurred months ago, the city of New Brunswick just informed the residents last Friday. City Spokeswoman Jennifer Bradshaw said the city did not receive notification from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection until March 19.

“The City self-reported the incidents cited in the report in early January,” said Bradshaw. “We had been in talks with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) from Jan. 3 through March 11 regarding the violations. We received notification from the DEP on March 19, dated March 11. After we received the notification from the DEP in March, the City and American Water began work on a notice, which was released this past Friday.”

The past few months have been a particularly difficult time for New Brunswick Water Utility. As reported by nj.com, the director of the plant, Alexi Walus, was removed from his post for “using offensive language at work in front of other employees” on March 31. Bradshaw said that Walus’ removal is unrelated to this most recent incident.

The City of New Brunswick is attempting to take their troubled treatment plant and create a safe and efficient plant that the residents of New Brunswick deserve. According to Bradshaw, the city is in the process of a $3 million renovation project, which includes, “the renovation of our gravity filters and the upgrade of the City’s two pumping stations, including the installation of new pumps, creating better efficiency within the system. An emergency generator is also to be added to the D&R Canal Pump Station.”

For more information on the city’s water, visit thecityofnewbrunswick.org.

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