Dissolution would have negative impact

Township officials are considering doing away with the East Brunswick Sewerage Authority (EBSA) and blending this body in with the municipally controlled East Brunswick Water Utility.

For those who are unaware, this will result in dissolution of the current sewerage service, which is semiautonomous, self-funded and self-maintained by its staff.

Responsibility and funding for the sewerage services that only part of the town utilizes will become the responsibility of all of the township’s residents through municipal taxes.

Township Council spokespersons have listed a rationale focused on duplication of mailing services, creation of an online payment program and elimination of clerical and other workers. They have not mentioned how the township intends to take on the responsibility of creation, maintenance and upgrading of necessary infrastructure in a growing town without the needed staffing to do this, while laying off sewerage professional staff as is currently anticipated.

At the recent 150th anniversary celebration of the township, one former mayor listed the infrastructure work that he had overseen and that at least 50 percent of the infrastructure work remained. Residents tend not to think about or question what goes on beneath the ground, but we expect that our municipal officials will. Without a formal sewerage authority, it is doubtful that needed sewerage infrastructure work be prioritized or maintained.

Nationally, maintenance, upgrading and creation of infrastructure is a recognized problem. As trustee of a local environmental organization, I am concerned on behalf of our water resources.

Under a bill recently passed in the House of Representatives, local governments would receive billions of dollars for infrastructure construction projects; yet, East Brunswick proposes to do away with the needed sewerage authority that is currently positioned to take advantage of this funding to upgrade and maintain needed services to the town and its aging and inadequate infrastructure.

Across the country, ruptures in aging infrastructure systems cause sewerage pollutants to seep into water supplies. In a municipality lacking funding or a dedicated organization to fix and maintain sewerage infrastructure, these problems will worsen.

Removing the autonomy of the sewerage authority will impact our water infrastructure, also aging and in need of repairs, as well. Without dedicated sewerage staff and attention to infrastructure on an ongoing basis, in areas with sewerage-pipe maintenance problems such as pipes with faulty seams or holes, sewerage effluentwill seep into groundwater and can co-mingle with water resources as well as water in water piping.

Statements on duplication of efforts by municipal officials fail to take into account that when these positions are eliminated, there will be no dedicated and trained professionals who have been familiar with East Brunswick’s sewerage infrastructure and maintenance for decades.

Residents who minded getting recent boil-water alerts following major storms, due to sewerage mixing with drinking water in an overflow situation, need to be aware this can become a more routine occurrence if the EBSA is eliminated.

Beyond knee-jerk budget considerations of saving on mailings or clerical function, the council and residents need to consider the impact that lack of professional sewerage service staff will have on our water supplies and maintenance of water and sewerage infrastructure.

This year, the theme of World Water Day, observed on March 22, was “Clean Water for a Healthy World,” and under the United Nations International Decade for Action Water for Life 2005-2015, this year’s theme is “Water Quality for a Healthy World.”

While much of the world is unable to access clean and sanitary water of sufficient quality, we must ensure the health of East Brunswick residents by supporting the professional body dedicated to the township’s sewerage system and ensuring that deteriorating infrastructure does not impact the quality of our drinking water supply and water resources.

Jeannine Der Bedrosian

East Brunswick