Information on the City’s Water Department and
Corrective Measures That Have Been Implemented
On November 6 2013, the City of New Brunswick received an Administrative Order from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) regarding water quality violations at the City’s Water Treatment Plant between January 2010 and May 2013. On November 27, the City of New Brunswick distributed a public notice to all City residents regarding the issues in the Administrative Order. The notice details the violations that occurred at the City’s Water Treatment Plant during this time period.
These violations were first discovered when the director of the Water Department, Frank Marascia reported turbidity exceedances (cloudiness in the water) that occurred in March and June 2013, to the NJDEP.
As required by law, and in consultation with the NJDEP, public notification was required for the June 2013, event and was published in the City’s 2012 Water Quality Report issued in July 2013. Neither of the two events presented any immediate health concerns according to the NJDEP.
Following the June turbidity event of this year, Mr. Marascia assumed direct control of all water treatment operations from the City’s licensed operator Edward O’Rourke.
In July 2013, in cooperation with City Officials and Water Department staff, regulators from the NJDEP and the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) conducted a Sanitary Survey, a normal three-year review of the Water Treatment Plant’s operations, record keeping and testing criteria. At the conclusion of the survey in late July, it was noted that six categorical violations were documented in the facility’s historical records, but were never reported by Mr. O’Rourke to City Officials, NJDEP or the public as required by law. Some of these violations included failure to report turbidity exceedances, inadequate disinfection and improper sampling of water quality. In light of these violations, Mr. O’Rourke is facing disciplinary action by the City that may include his termination. Mr. O’Rourke is currently suspended without pay. In addition, Mr. O’Rourke is facing NJDEP administrative penalties and suspension of his Treatment and Distribution Licenses.
Earlier this year the Water Utility, under the direction of Mr. Marascia, began implementing corrective measures at the Water Treatment Plant. These corrective actions included equipment changes such as:
- Installation of a Streaming Current Monitor for enhanced control of coagulation and sedimentation processes
- Replacement of turbidity monitors and control valves on all eight gravity filters
- Installation of new equipment for calibration of coagulant chemical feed pumps
- Replacement of internal coating on each membrane cell as recommended by USEPA
- Manual cleaning of the two sedimentation basins
- Installation of an additional chlorine residual analyzer to provide a more representative sample of water quality after all processes are completed
Other changes implemented by the Water Utility concerned reporting matters such as:
- Establishment of new performance goals for gravity filter operations
- A detailed evaluation of performance membrane filters
- A voluntary Public Employees-Occupational Safety and Health Administration review of plant facilities and work procedures
- Verification of adequate chlorine contact time in the gravity filter clearwell
- Evaluation of plant Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system and needed improvements for data recording and storage
Additionally, the Water Utility has contracted with the Middlesex Water Company to conduct total coliform analysis of the City’s water, and has hired a new licensed operator to oversee the operations at the Water Treatment Plant.
The City has also contracted with two water quality companies to conduct reports on its Water Treatment Plant. Process Applications, Inc. of Fort Collins, Colorado, conducted a Comprehensive Performance Evaluation of the Water Treatment Plant. This evaluation has been completed and presented to the City and NJDEP. The City has also contracted with Howard J. Woods, Jr. & Associates of Newtown, Pennsylvania, to provide a Comprehensive Technical Assistance report to the Water Treatment Plant’s operations staff. This report will be completed in April of 2014.
The Water Utility is continuing to enhance the operations of the Water Treatment Plant and will install new equipment and implement new procedures that will increase the productivity of the Plant. The Water Utility has also hired several new licensed water professionals to oversee the operations at the Water Treatment Plant. With these new professionals in place, we will eliminate the possibility that the actions of one person will compromise the overall operations of the Water Treatment Plant.
The City of New Brunswick’s Water Utility wants to assure its consumers that these violations occurred in the past and our drinking water is and has been safe and clean, and that we will continue to work to make sure the difficulties identified in our recent notices never happen again.