South River introduces bond ordinance to addresses issues at water plant

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SOUTH RIVER – The Borough Council has introduced a bond ordinance that would, if adopted, provide funding for improvements to the borough’s water treatment, storage and distribution system.

Business Administrator Art Londensky said improvements to the water treatment, storage and distribution system at the Department of Public Works complex on Ivan Way would include replacing the filter media, improving the chemical delivery and evaluating the water storage tanks.

“The treatment plant needs work, I am not going to deny it needs work. Most of the things done at the treatment plant were in the 1980s,” Londensky said. “It is now time to improve what we have.”

Council members introduced an ordinance appropriating $925,000 for the work on Aug. 5. The ordinance proposes the issuance of $875,000 in bonds and a $50,000 down payment from the borough.

Council President Raymond Eppinger said a public hearing and possible vote for adoption was scheduled for Aug. 19.

“We hired a consultant, he started working [and] he found things that needed to be improved,” Londensky said.

On June 12, New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal announced charges had been filed against Robert Baker, 56, of Mine Hill, the licensed operator for the South River Water Department.

The charges were lodged in connection with allegations Baker submitted false water samples and records to a laboratory that tests samples for coliform bacteria for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), according to a statement.

Mayor John Krenzel said Baker worked for the water department for nine years.

“We are meeting the criteria for the DEP’s water quality, but we have to make it better,” Londensky said. “The water is still fine. It has minerals that have to be treated. We understand that and we have to (operate) the treatment system better than the way we are doing it now.

“This will take time, getting the equipment; you cannot go to Home Depot … it’s not on the shelf, you have to order it. We are getting it as fast as we can. We hope to see progress. In the meantime, we are moving along,” he said.

Londensky said the controls at the water treatment plant date from the 1980s. He said the controls are working, but need to be replaced, and that will not be done until 2020 because of the expense.
Councilman Peter Guindi said, “The water issue has been going on for years. This year it has gotten worse. My house has brown water … and I have two little girls. … The bottom line is that we have to move forward, we have to fix the problem regardless of, unfortunately, the price. It’s about your health, period. So whether it happened yesterday or years ago … the end (result) is that we are trying to do what we have to do to move forward with this town.”
On July 22, the council approved a resolution declaring a water emergency and establishing measures for water conservation. Londensky said officials have implemented mandatory water restrictions that remain in effect.
Despite the restrictions, Krenzel said residents may still water their lawn and wash their cars, among other activities, but at certain times of the day.
Council members introduced a second bond ordinance to provide funding for the rehabilitation of well No. 2 and other wells.
“We are putting forth these two bond ordinances. These are our continuing steps to give everybody clean water. There have been many problems; there still are problems, [but] for now we are working on the treatment plant,” Krenzel said.
For more information about the water restrictions, visit www.southrivernj.org.
Contact Vashti Harris at [email protected].