Home > Uncategorized > Aqua NJ Has Over 1,500 Violations Of Federal Safe Drinking Water Act

Aqua NJ Has Over 1,500 Violations Of Federal Safe Drinking Water Act

[Update below]

According to US EPA data, the private water company Aqua NJ has over 1,500 violations at its NJ public community drinking water systems.

According to Aqua’s BPU Annual Report, the private corporation Aqua has grown significantly by acquiring 37 smaller NJ public and community drinking water and wastewater systems.

I urge readers to check out that EPA data and see how your system is doing, especially when you read news reports about what a great job DEP is doing in protecting drinking water, or when Legislators, DEP and water industry corporate hacks tout the benefits of privatization. Private companies were supposed to bring greater resources, technical expertise, and management skills to all those small public systems.

Violations include failure to monitor and/or report for and exceedences of Maximum Contaminant Levels (MLC’s) for a host of toxic and cancer causing chemicals including volatile organic chemicals (VOC’s),  radiologicals, inorganic chemicals, lead, nitrates, fecal coliform and disinfection by-products.

The top drinking water systems total violations were as follows:

  • Bunnvale – 556
  • Byram – 238
  • Lawrence – 180
  • Wallkill – 178
  • Spartan Village – 171
  • Cliffside Park – 79

Regardless of the time period, that data shows repeat violations and suggests systemic problems.

In contrast, Warren Glen only had 2 violations.

So we wonder what the hell is going on in Bunnvale (Lebanon Township) and Byram! (Calling Scott Olson!) Are the people who live there and drink that water aware of these violations?

I have not reviewed the entire EPA data in detail to determine important facts like the time period for these violations, whether EPA or DEP took enforcement action for the violations, how serious the violations were from a public health perspective, whether they were minor paperwork violations, or how Aqua’s violations compare to other NJ public water utilities and private corporations.

There were 3,643 records in the EPA database for NJ violations – each violation is documented, but that would take a lot of work to figure out what is going on in an individual system, never mind statewide. I’d also wonder how NJ compared to other states. The EPA national data is presented by State, so that analysis also can be conducted.

There were other community drinking water systems numerous violations. For example, the Alpha system had 321, Hopewell Boro had 318, Flemington had 271, and Allendale had 267.

I selected Aqua because the EPA data are listen alphabetically, and the number and significance of the Aqua violations jumped off the page.

I urge readers and the NJ media to look into those issues.

This post is just a teaser, encouraging more in depth investigation. Let me know what you find out.

[Update: We got an amazingly quick and important clarification about what is happening in Byram, from friend and Byram Councilperson Scott Olson. These are Scott’s personal opinions, not the view of the Township or Council. Byram’s situation could be typical, but I just don’t know:

Formerly private system, poorly run (in my opinion) by volunteers of a small homeowners association. System acquired by Aqua June 2016. After a quick look at the EPA site, there only appears to be one non-health violation since Aqua’s acquisition, “Total Haloacetic Acids” which may have been shortly after they acquired the system and flushed it with chlorine after doing some pipe repairs? Not sure. And one ‘Consumer Confidence Report” report Due 7/1/18 and not filed until 8/16/18.

The numbers on the EPA site are not for 2018 only, they are totals for an extended period of time. ALL the 236 other violations date as far back as 1997 and were from private ownership doing a half-assed job. Aqua provides the 148 homeowners a much safer, better quality drinking water than they had been provided by the private, owner run system. A system, by the way, which also had numerous DEP violations in that time period for exceeding their withdrawal allocations (purportedly due to leaks in pipes). The Highlands Council (at the urging of the township) provided assistance to the homeowner run company to get financing to fix the system during the Eileen Swan era there.

Hate to disappoint you, but Aqua is doing right by these 400 consumers here in Byram. Can’t speak to the rest of the state though.

end update]


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