Christie: Water emergency could be over by July 4

Gov. urges county residents to obey usage restrictions until further notice

Staff Writer


Monmouth County residents impacted by the June 27 water main collapse and the resulting county-wide emergency water usage  restrictions can expect a return to normalcy no later than the 4th of July, said Gov. Chris Christie.

Joined by Representative Frank Pallone (D-6th District), Senator Joe Kyrillos (R-13th District) and a number of state, county and municipal officials at a June 28 press conference at the Wolf Hill Recreation Area in Oceanport, Christie said that plans to fix the damaged pipes at New Jersey American Water’s (NJAW) Swimming River Treatment Plant are already under way.

Corroborating earlier reports from NJAW communications director Peter Eschbach, Christie said that the water provider has already installed new pumps and temporary infrastructure designed to pump and treat between five and seven million gallons of water per day.

1,000 feet of 36-inch ductile iron pipe is currently being shipped up from Atlanta to be used in the permanent repair of the collapsed mains at the Tinton Falls plant. Christie said the new pipe should arrive within 24 hours, and that the repair work should be completed no later than Wednesday.

There has still been no reported cause for the collapse, which occurred early Friday and has since impacted tens of thousands of residents, businesses and medical facilities throughout the region.

A state of emergency was declared late Friday night for all of Monmouth County, banning outdoor water use and calling on residents and businesses to conserve water whenever possible.

NJAW customers in 22 municipalities – Middletown, Holmdel, Aberdeen, Highlands, Rumson, Fair Haven, Little Silver, Oceanport, Sea Bright, Tinton Falls, Shrewsbury Borough, Shrewsbury Township, Long Branch, Eatontown, West Long Branch, Deal, Allenhurst, Loch Arbor, Neptune, Monmouth Beach, Lake Como and Ocean Township – were informed by company officials that they could face a “potential or actual threat” in their quality of water and given instructions to boil any water used for consumption.

According to a county press release, the water restrictions were extended to all of Monmouth County because NJAW is currently drawing resources from other water utilities in order to meet basic demand for its network of customers.

Some municipalities have experienced low- or no-pressure issues since the pipes first collapsed, including areas with higher elevations like the northeast section of Middletown.

Christie said all Monmouth County residents are urged to conserve water until notified and a full investigation into the broken pipe will be made.

The outdoor watering ban, in effect until further notice, includes the watering of lawns, shrubs and gardens, washing cars and filling swimming pools. Residents are also being reminded to turn their sprinkler systems off.

Indoor use is also restricted and residents are being asked to limit their showering time, flush their toilets less frequently and avoid running washing machines or dishwashers.

According to a press release from NJAW, residents in the 22 affected towns should bring tap water to a rolling boil for one minute and allow it to cool before using it for consumption.

Residents are also advised to throw away uncooked food, beverages or ice cubes if they were made with tap water during the advisory and avoid swallowing any water while they are showering or bathing.

According to NJAW Communications Director Peter Eschbach, both the water restrictions and the boil advisory will be in effect until the company’s water system can be stabilized. The best thing residents can do right now, he said, is cut back on their water usage.

“We can get out of this situation a lot quicker if everyone helps out. Turn off your sprinklers, don’t fill your pool or wash your boat, try to cut back in any way possible. If you see your neighbor watering his lawn, say something.”

In addition to the extra pumps and infrastructure being used at the Swimming River plant, Eschbach said NJAW is also pumping in water from its treatment plants in Neptune and Howell and supplementing that supply with resources from other area water utilities.

At the moment, according to Eschbach, the water levels currently in the county system would support normal usage demands during the winter months.

“Effectively,” he said, “if we can drop consumption down to what would be considered winter levels, it will help stabilize the system so we would be able to lift the advisory.”

In response to the usage restrictions and the boil advisory, NJAW has set up free water distribution sites at Middletown High School North, 63 Tindall Road, Middletown; Middletown High School South, 900 Nut Swamp Road, Middletown; and Wolf Hill Park, 3 Crescent Place, Oceanport. A fourth site is expected to be open early Saturday afternoon at the Shrewsbury Township Municipal Building. All sites will be open from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. 

According to a NJAW press release, residents in the 22 towns listed should also provide their pets with boiled water, rinse hand-washed dishes for a minute in diluted bleach and avoid using home water filters, which will not provide adequate protection from microorganisms.