Jun 18, 2020

New Jersey Sues City for Water System Issues at Utility

The state of New Jersey filed a lawsuit against the City of Trenton and Trenton Water Works

drinking water

The state of New Jersey filed a lawsuit against the City of Trenton and Trenton Water Works due to the city’s failure to deal with ongoing issues at the utility.

State officials asked the county to compel the city to comply with the existing consent order that Trenton has with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection. 

Trenton City Council refused to pass necessary funding measures to pay for critical, required improvements to Trenton Water Works, which serves drinking water to about 217,000 people. according to the press release.

“After years of mismanagement, and after the Trenton City Council recently failed to take necessary steps to address the serious shortcomings in the City’s water system, the State was left with no choice but to file this suit,” said New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal in the statement. “Our lawsuit demands that Trenton Water Works meet its obligations to reduce the risk of lead exposure by replacing lead service lines, and to comply with a range of other environmental laws that go directly to the health of the public and especially of Trenton’s children."

According to the lawsuit, the City experienced lead-related Action Level Exceedance events during three monitoring periods in 2017 and 2018 and Trenton Water Works was required to replace 7% of its lead service lines within a year of its first exceedance. It did not meet this first deadline, however. To date, it has replaced only 828 of its lines, or approximately 2%. 

The lawsuit also addresses the water utility’s failure to reduce the risk of contamination in its reservoir and inability to comply with maintenance and operational requirements.

Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora’s administration recently put forward a $405 million, six-year capital plan to fix the water system, however. 

Michael Walker, a spokesman for Trenton Water Works, said the utility does not comment on litigation.

“Trenton Water Works continues to execute its comprehensive reorganization and capital plans, including improving filtration systems, water storage, water distribution, personnel and customer service,” said Walker. “We have made substantial progress. And we continue to maintain high water quality and a precise focus on achieving excellence in our operations.”

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