Officials tout safety of water in North Brunswick

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By JENNIFER AMATO
Staff Writer

NORTH BRUNSWICK — Representatives from New Jersey American Water flooded the North Brunswick Municipal Building to discuss water quality issues in town.

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North Brunswick provides water through a contract with American Water, which oversees the water treatment plant in town, North Brunswick Business Administrator Kathryn Monzo said during a special meeting on Oct. 26.

Jim Grootenboer, the general manager for American Water, added that the surface water treatment plant takes water from the D&R Canal at an average of 5.2 million gallons per day, which is expected to increase with the additional development at MainStreetNB.

He said a pre-clarification unit removes heavy particles that are then transferred to units so that the water can meet turbidity standards.

Grootenboer said that raw water and the treated, finished water are tested for cryptosporidium, a microscopic parasite that is not easily destroyed by disinfectants. He said that North Brunswick’s raw water showed only one cyst, and the treated water had zero.

“There’s no problem here with the D&R Canal with cryptosporidium,” he said.

He also said North Brunswick received the Director’s Award from the Partnership for Safe Water, which makes the township the first surface water/potable water plant to reach that level.

“We are putting out better water, meaning higher standards,” he said.

In regards to the situation in Flint, Michigan, where abnormally high levels of lead were detected last year, Grootenboer said North Brunswick does not have too much concern in the way of lead.

He said that the township has met every action level of the lead-copper rule, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has placed the town on reduced sampling every three years. He said that a minimum of 30 homes have to be tested for lead service and/or copper plumbing with lead solder, which mostly applies to homes constructed from 1982-86.

“We have not found any actual lead service lines from the street to the house,” he said.

Since 1991, Grootenboer said North Brunswick has met the action level at the 90th percentile for lead and copper, and only one time did a customer exceed the action level. He said the company continues to find homes that have about a 1-foot-long section from the right of way at the main in the street to the curb stop, which if found must be replaced.

He also said that samples from June to August of this year are “non-detected,” meaning that they are below the required level.

However, representatives noted that the school buildings do not apply to the same EPA rulings for lead and copper, but that New Jersey established a deadline of July to test schools for lead.

In addition, Grootenboer mentioned that American Water monitors chlorine on a .2 to 4 parts per million scale to ensure that there is enough chlorine to prevent regrowth of bacteria, but not too much to cause an objectionable taste or smell.

Furthermore, a recent article citing North Brunswick as one of 138 towns that exceeded the public health goal for chromium-6 was somewhat misleading, according to officials, because the article compared California’s goal of zero to that of North Brunswick, which is 100.

Monzo said the cost for the water treatment plant is $7.5 million per year, which includes about $3 million in debt service to pay for any needed capital improvements.

Grootenboer said that two filter buildings were taken out of service around 2009 and replaced by a new filter building and an administrative building. There were some modifications to the tanks, and a computerized automated system was installed.

He said the company is trying to prioritize any needed capital projects for the next 10 years.

“Right now with the new filters, new media, everything is working from that standpoint,” he said.

Monzo said the rate on the water bill depends on usage, which covers the operation of the plant.

Grootenboer said that representatives use their gun to read the meter, which uploads the bill into the system and automatically calculates the rate. He said an alarm goes off if the rate is higher or lower than a resident’s average bill.

He also noted that township residents are receiving a new water bill because the billing office moved from Hershey, Pennsylvania, to the North Brunswick plant location. Payment should be made to North Brunswick Township and the bill pay address has changed to Township of North Brunswick, P.O. Box 1209, Belle Mead, NJ 08502.

Contact Jennifer Amato at jamato@gmnews.com.

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