Bordentown City’s water system rises back to compliance

Sign up sheets and event posters hang on the bulletin board outside the Bordentown City Clerk Office. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF
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Sign up sheets and event posters hang on the bulletin board outside the Bordentown City Clerk Office. STEVEN BASSIN/STAFF

For just under the past two years, the Bordentown City Water Department has worked hard to help improve the water system in the town after reports of high level amounts of lead being found in the system.

The Bordentown Water Advisory Committee, which is headed by Bordentown City Commissioner Joe Myers, joined forces with a resident advisory committee and water experts throughout the state to help create a data-driven method to help improve the water quality.

As of July, Myers reports that the city has returned to compliance with its water system after the first six months of testing this year.

“It was a collaborative effort,” Myers said. “The water system shows the work that the city and the committee was able to develop and put into action.”

Myers said that the success stems from their four-step action plan: transparency, testing, education and equipment.

Those factors came from the department working with different agencies to develop testing protocols when they went out and looked at residents’ service lines to test their plumbing.

Many materials used for plumbing in houses built in the 1970s and 1980s are not up to code, Myers said, and the city commissioner alluded to some of those materials causing the issue of more lead being found in their pipes.

The water advisory committee members would contact these homeowners and work with them to see how to improve their plumbing systems.

The committee also offered free water testing to any residents in the town.

By the end of 2019, the city conducted more than 450 tests, Myers said.

Nineteen percent of homes during the first half of 2019 had an excess of lead in their service lines. The water department conducted 64 tests during the second half of 2019 and found that seven homes (12%) had an excess of lead found in their plumbing.

The city commissioner added that the testing helped show the gradual improvement in the water system and less lead levels in the town.

During the first six months of this year, the water department conducted 71 samples and found that only two homes (2%) had some excess of lead in their water system, meaning that the city water system met compliance standards.

“It’s truly borderline remarkable that we have been able to make this much progress in a little under two years,” Myers said.

This is just the beginning, stated Myers, who knows there is still more work to be done with the water system in Bordentown.

Bordentown’s success in the eyes of Myers can be used as a model for similar towns in the state and around the country that are dealing with lead issues in their water system.

“It’s a model for other towns to use and if Tier-1 homes have any sort of lead in their plumbing,” Myers said.