‘I’m limping, I need that well back’

Pennington authorizes A.C. Shultes to perform emergency work on borough well

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Pennington Borough Council members have given an emergency greenlight for a well drilling company to complete additional work that will get one of the borough’s wells back online.

The additional work on the well, which will be for well no. 6, is for the replacement of valves and pipe modifications.

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Without the greenlight authorizing A.C. Schultes to perform the additional and emergency work on the well for no more than $10,000 at the governing body’s Feb. 5 meeting, the well would not be able to return to service providing drinking water and fire suppression.

In summer 2023, the well drilling company out of Woodbury Heights was hired by the borough to make original improvements to the well.

The improvements included the replacement of a vertical turbine pump with a high efficient clear well pump. The original contract awarded by the borough was for $31,415 and funded through ARP (American Rescue Plan) funds.

The company’s original improvement work discovered that the many of valves for well no. 6 were inoperable and needed to be replaced.

“In order to test we need to get this thing back up and running … the well has been down for a while,” said Rick Smith, superintendent of Public Works, adding the borough is “down to 75 percent (capabilities in producing water).”

A few weeks before the meeting, the Pennington School’s water system had a main break and the borough struggled to assist them, Smith relayed.

“… There was an interconnection thankfully, so we were able to assist them and supplement,” he said.

Smith described the valves as being at least 60 years old. With the new valves, they will turn them quarterly so they will not run into the same “inoperable” problem.

“The [valves] are a decent size, and nothing is cheap anymore,” Smith explained. “I’m going to do my best, that $10,000 is not a guaranteed amount as far as high or low. I’m trying very hard to keep [the company] underneath.”

Before the council approved the additional work, Councilman John Valenza wanted to know if the additional work could be delayed.

“To be honest it is a real risk to the public health and safety (such as fire suppression),” Smith responded. “I understand how this works waiting for us to figure out bigger parts of the (municipal) budget, but I am down and I’m limping. I need that well back.”

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