Trenton Water Works announces that water is safe to drink

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Although the Trenton Water Works has violated a drinking water standard, the water is safe to drink, according to the city-owned utility that supplies water to some Hopewell Township households.

During recent regular water testing, the Trenton Water Works discovered that it had exceeded the maximum contaminant level for total trihalomethanes, which is a disinfectant by-product.

The maximum contaminant level for total trihalomethanes is 80 parts per billion, but testing results from November 2018 showed four sampling sites exceeded the maximum by eight parts per billion – or 88 parts per billion, according to the Dec. 26, 2018 notice sent out by the water utility.

Trenton Water Works officials stressed that although the total trihalomethanes had exceeded the permissible level, it is not an emergency and there is no need to boil the water. If it had been an emergency, residents would have been notified immediately.

Some people who drink water containing total trihalomethanes that exceeds the maximum contaminant level may develop problems with their liver, kidney or central nervous system, and may have an increased risk of cancer – but only if they have been drinking it for many years.

Meanwhile, Trenton Water Works officials are taking steps to reduce the disinfectant byproducts in the water system, including cleaning superpulsator settling tanks at the water filtration plant, and cleaning, repairing and sandblasting the chlorine contact tanks.

The city utility has drained, cleaned and disinfected the elevated water storage tanks and it has replaced water meters. It has also flushed service lines at the sampling locations to ensure the best representative water sampling data, officials said.

This is not the first time that the Trenton Water Works has issued advisories to its customers in the City of Trenton, and Lawrence, Hopewell, Hamilton and Ewing townships. The water utility serves all residents in the City of Trenton, and parts of the four townships.

In January 2018, the Trenton Water Works issued a “boil water” advisory and also asked customers to reduce their water use following a malfunction at the water treatment plant.

The water utility also violated a drinking water standard for haloacetic acids – also a disinfectant by-product – during the last quarter of 2017 and the first quarter of 2018, but the violation did not represent a health threat and no emergency notification was required.

The Hopewell Township Committee passed a resolution in January 2018 that called on Trenton and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection to take steps to ensure the drinking water is safe.

As a result of the combined issues, the City of Trenton and the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection reached an agreement in February 2018 that detailed a series of steps to address the infrastructure, staffing, operational and public notification needs.

The administrative consent order called for filling vacant staff positions, along with measures to minimize water treatment plant disruptions at the Delaware River intake pipes due to low water conditions, debris, aquatic vegetation and ice.