It happened in 2015 and, again, in 2016.
As per a Dec. 29, 2016 posting on the township website, the township again failed a “drinking water requirement,” but – except in certain cases – residents need not boil the water nor “take other correction actions.”
“During the months of June 2016 through October 2016,” the website announcement said, “disinfectant residual [in the water distribution system] was undetectable in more than 5% of samples.
“The standard is that disinfectant may be undetectable in no more than 5% of samples each month for two months in a row.”
Monitoring found the standard to have been violated since the disinfectant could not be detected in more than 5% of samples taken over a period of five months consecutively.
Each measurement, the posting said, “tells us whether we are effectively disinfecting the water supply [from Newark]. Disinfectant residual is the amount of chlorine or related disinfectant present in the pipes of the distribution system.
“If the amount of disinfectant is too low, organisms could grow in the pipes.”
According to the posting, because the township did not consider the recurring lapse an “emergency,” particularly since “tests taken during this time period did not indicate the presence of bacteria in the water,” residents were not immediately notified.
“Inadequately treated water may contain disease-causing organisms,” the posting added, such as “bacteria, viruses and parasites, which can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea and associated headaches.”
But the posting noted that such symptoms can be triggered not only by the aforementioned organisms but also by other factors. “If you experience any of these symptoms and they persist, you may want to seek medical advice.”
In particular, people with a “severely compromised immune system, who have an infant, are pregnant or are elderly … may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.
“General guidelines on ways to lessen the risk of infection by microbes are available from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Safe Drinking Water Hotline at 1-800-426-4791.”
In January 2016, the township reported a similar violation notice, saying that in the third quarter of 2015, “we exceeded the Operational Evaluation Level for trihalomethanes and failed to conduct an operational evaluation and submit a written report by Dec. 4, 2015, as required.”
Since then, the township said, the water department completed the submitted the required report on Dec. 23, 2015.
At the time, the state Department of Environmental Protection told The Observer that no bacteria had been detected in the water pipes and that the water was safe to drink. Trihalmothanes were described by DEP as “a chemical that occurs when a disinfectant reacts with naturally occurring organic or inorganic matter in water.”
The current township posting that the water department is “sampling the treated water we purchase from the Newark Water Department for disinfectant levels and presence of coliform bacteria.
“Disinfectant levels since November 2016 have been improving as the temperature of the water we purchase from the Newark Water Department decreases.”
– Ron Leir