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October 7, 2010

Contact: Lawrence Hajna (609) 984-1795
Lawrence Ragonese (609) 292-2994


(10/P105) TRENTON - In order to avoid future events like the severe loss of pressure that resulted in a precautionary boil water advisory for much of Trenton Water Works’ service area this week, DEP Commissioner Bob Martin announced that he and Trenton Mayor Tony Mack have pledged to work closely together to investigate this week’s events and to address the challenges facing the aging water utility.

Commissioner Martin today called Mayor Mack to offer the DEP’s assistance in identifying and correcting any systemic, managerial or procedural problems at the Trenton Water Works. Both the Commissioner and the Mayor are determined to ascertain precisely how this week’s chain of events unfolded, and are committed to ensuring smooth operations in the future to protect public health. They are scheduled to meet Tuesday afternoon at the DEP.

Trenton Water Works, which is owned by the city, serves some 200,000 people in Trenton, Ewing, Hopewell, Lawrence and Hamilton. The utility is responsible for the treatment, delivery and testing of water, and for notification of its customers when a safety concern does arise.

“While we are of course pleased that the loss of water pressure this week did not pose a health threat, Mayor Mack and I are concerned with how Trenton Water Works handled the situation,” Commissioner Martin said. “The Mayor has agreed to cooperate fully with the DEP and to correct any deficiencies that we identify. Mayor Mack and I share common goals: making sure that customers of Trenton Water Works receive a reliable supply of safe, high-quality drinking water.”

Analyses of water tests confirmed that no bacteria contamination poses a threat to public health. As a result, the precautionary boil water advisory was lifted as of this afternoon for the entire Trenton Water Works service area except Ewing Township. The advisory for Ewing is expected to be lifted later tonight after completion of analysis of water samples from that community.

On Monday, the DEP ordered the utility to issue a boil water advisory as a precaution following low pressure in the system.

Preliminary information indicates that the utility temporarily closed off intakes from the Delaware River because of higher than normal flow in the river due to recent rains, but then had difficulty providing sufficient backup flow to meet demand. The utility was unable to provide sufficient flow from a reservoir that holds an emergency supply of treated water, resulting in significant and even complete loss of pressure in some parts of the system. The low pressure apparently caused corrosion in pipes to break loose, discoloring the water. The DEP does not believe that raw river water reached the distribution system at any time during the emergency.

“I appreciated the phone call from Commissioner Martin today and am eager to work closely with the DEP to ensure that operations at Trenton Water Works provide a steady and safe supply of water to all of the utility’s customers,” said Mayor Mack.



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Last Updated: October 8, 2010