DEP FINES WATER SYSTEMS, LICENSED OPERATORS
FOR FRAUDULENT MONITORING AND REPORTING
(06/35) TRENTON -- Department of Environmental
Protection Commissioner Lisa P. Jackson today announced that two
public water suppliers and four water-system operators face heavy
fines and license suspensions for failing to accurately monitor
drinking-water quality, manipulating equipment to skew test results
and falsifying reports.
"Without accurate, reliable and timely water-quality data,
our ability to protect the safety of the public's drinking water
is seriously compromised," Commissioner Jackson said. "The
failures and fraud we uncovered highlight once again the vital role
DEP plays in investigating late, deficient and inaccurate reporting
and strengthens our resolve to take tough action if water-system
data or operations in any way fall short of state and federal safe-drinking
In its enforcement actions, the DEP issued penalties to the Strawberry
Point Homeowners Association in Byram Township, Sussex County, and
its former operator, William H. Horton; the Roxbury Water Company
in Roxbury Township, Morris County, and its operator and president,
John F. Hosking; and two former United Water Toms River managers,
George J. Flegal and Richard Ottens.
"We license New Jersey's water-system operators to perform
an essential public service," Commissioner Jackson said. "Our
investigations showed these operators shirked their fundamental
responsibilities under the law. Equally regrettable, by deliberately
distorting data, they violated the public's trust."
In the Strawberry Point case, officials with the DEP's Water Compliance
and Enforcement and its Safe Drinking Water programs reviewed monthly
operating reports Horton submitted from January through May 2005.
All of the reports showed identical daily chlorine residual measurements,
required to prevent bacterial aftergrowth, prompting DEP inspectors
to question the data's veracity. Though Horton had signed and certified
the reports as accurate, he admitted to DEP inspectors that he did
not conduct the mandatory, daily chlorine residual analysis.
The DEP fined Horton $16,000 and ordered a two-year suspension
of his operator license for violating the state's Water and Wastewater
Operators Licensing Act by submitting false and inaccurate data
to the DEP. The Strawberry Point Homeowners Association received
a $1,000 penalty for failing to conduct water-quality monitoring
required under New Jersey's Safe Drinking Water Act.
DEP inspectors uncovered similar violations at Roxbury Water Company.
From July through December 2004, Hosking, president of the privately
owned water company and its operator, filed with the DEP monthly
operating reports that consistently documented the same daily
chlorine residual measurements. In February 2005, the DEP's Bureau
of Safe Drinking Water launched an investigation and collected
chlorine residual samples at three points within the water-supply
system. The sampling revealed inadequate chlorine residual concentrations
in the distribution system.
Hosking received a notice of violation on March 1 for failing to
outline in an operation-and-maintenance manual the standard operating
procedures for collecting and analyzing daily chlorine residual
monitoring and failing to properly operate and maintain chlorine
The Roxbury Water Company received a $5,000 penalty; Hosking faces
a $24,000 fine and a two-year license suspension.
At United Water Toms River, the DEP determined drinking-water sources
were manipulated so compliance sampling would conceal actual water
quality. Specifically, in September 2005, Flegal and Ottens both
shut down the system's Well No. 35 before a scheduled compliance
sampling for radionuclides because they apparently believed that
high levels in that water source would trigger an exceedance of
the maximum contaminant level for radionuclides. The water system
had previously exceeded the maximum contaminant level for radionuclides,
and last February, the DEP fined United Water Toms River $64,000
for failing to provide timely notification to the DEP and to notify
Flegal, a former general manager at United Water Toms River, and
Ottens, the system's former operations manager, were fined $5,000
each and also face two-year license suspensions.
Under the New Jersey Water and Wastewater Operators Licensing Act,
every public water system must employ a DEP-licensed operator. In
addition to licensing, the DEP, an appointed licensing board and
an advisory committee develop training courses with Cook College
and establish continuing education requirements and performance
standards to ensure qualified, experienced people are operating
New Jersey's public utilities.
Both the water systems and the licensed operators can appeal the
penalties and suspensions before a judge in the Office of Administrative