South River council introduces ordinance to fund well improvements

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SOUTH RIVER – With water discoloration an ongoing issue in South River, the Borough Council has introduced a bond ordinance that would, if adopted, fund the rehabilitation of the municipality’s wells. 

On Aug. 5, council members introduced an ordinance which appropriates $1.45 million for the rehabilitation of Well No. 2 and other borough wells. All of the funding will be providing through bonds, according to the ordinance.

Council President Raymond Eppinger said a public hearing and possible vote to adopt the ordinance was scheduled for Aug. 19.

South River has three wells, Borough Administrator Art Londensky said.

In January, Ed Traina of CME Associates informed the council members about the history of one of the three wells. Traina said that in 2009, one well was rehabilitated to almost original condition.

Because clay is present in the soil in the area, Traina said professionals from CME Associates noticed quite a bit of iron and were pumping out iron from the ground. Iron tends to build up inside the well casings.

“In 2017, the operator noticed the well level, [meaning] the water level in the well, had significantly dropped to the point where we were actually thinking it may have sucked in air and that’s because the gravel in the screen at the bottom [became] plugged with this iron,” Traina said.

“In the summer of 2017, we had (a company) go out and try to re-establish and rehabilitate the well and they spent about three weeks out there. … They got it to three-quarters of what the original capacity was,” he said.

Traina said the well used to pump 1,000 gallons of water per minute.

Since the well has been in service for more than 60 years, Traina said South River officials can get a new well that would cost about $875,000 for construction and include a new well, a well pump, pumping to a new treatment plant and a structure to protect it from the weather.

“On July 14, the (water) discoloration was everywhere. There are several reasons. One was that there was heavy use of water during the weekend (July 13-14); ‘heavy’ as in hundreds of thousands of gallons more than usual. This would have disturbed the pipes throughout town,” Mayor John Krenzel said in a prepared statement issued on July 15.

Krenzel said because the discolored water affected a significant portion of the borough on July 14, an emergency meeting of professionals and municipal employees was held on July 15.

Londensky said South River is allowed to supply a certain percentage of water from the wells. The balance of water it cannot supply is purchased from East Brunswick.

“We have been pulling more water from our pumps … than we have done in the past. We will take more water from East Brunswick and less from our wells. This will return the water system to what it was,” Krenzel said.

Since the July 15 emergency meeting, municipal officials issued mandatory water restrictions.

Councilman John Alai said, “We’ve got a pretty serious problem and it’s not going to be easy to fix. What I would like to see, and I don’t know if this is possible, would be for (the chief financial officer) is to give some people a rebate for what happened in July.
“I think people paying for the water I saw in toilets and sinks, we should consider doing something for them. We can discuss it at our next meeting, but if you could, can (the CFO) come up with a plan to help ease some of the suffering people went through, at least financially,” Alai said.
“This is a long-term project. What we have is a really difficult and hard wake-up call that has been bandaged … [and] there is no easy fix,” Eppinger said
For more information, visit www.southrivernj.org/.
Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].