Passaic Valley Water Commission Answers to the Public in Town Hall Information Session
Water, the basis for all life on earth, is vitally important for the health of any community. From showers to toothbrushing, filling our pets’ bowls to our own drinking glasses, we depend on clean water for countless things every day but rarely give much thought to how it gets to us. The Passaic Valley Water Commission works around the clock, on holidays, during disasters, and often in the middle of the night to ensure that its customers have access to clean, safe water.
Executives, commissioners, and other professionals with PVWC came to Clifton’s City Hall on Tuesday, June 27 for an informational event with the public. The courtroom and conference room were set up with large displays, highlighting some of the biggest projects, issues, and concerns for the community. PVWC representatives were present to answer questions and to elaborate on the provided information.
Executive Director Jim Mueller and Director of Communications & Intergovernmental Affairs Lendel Jones were among those present.
Replacement of all lead water lines is one of PVWC’s biggest and most immediate projects. The State of New Jersey, which is one of four states participating in an EPA initiative, has mandated that all lead and galvanized steel water lines be replaced by 2031 and PVWC has been working to stay far ahead of this deadline, aiming for completion by 2025. Lead pipes pose a particular risk to pregnant women and to children, whose brains are still developing. PVWC is replacing these lines at no additional charge to their customers.
“Access to safe, clean drinking water is a fundamental human right which is why replacing lead service lines and modernizing our nation’s drinking water and wastewater infrastructure is a matter of public health, environmental safety, and racial and environmental justice,” said Senator Menendez. “Towns and cities across New Jersey are home to some of the oldest water infrastructure in the nation, which is why I have fought to bring hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funding back to the state for lead pipe replacements and drinking water improvements.”
Alexandra Wells, Supervising Engineer, spoke about the difficulty PVWC has had in gaining access to homes in order to check for the presence of lead pipes. “Getting the people to allow us to come in and inspect to see whether they do have lead or not…I have to admit it’s still a little slow with regard to our actual replacements. We’ve replaced about 1,200 service lines so far and we're hoping to be on track to finish in the next year and a half.” Wells wanted the public to know that the workers are not there to report on anything they see in the home or to sell anything; they only need to check the water line and, if it’s lead or galvanized steel, to schedule the replacement. She advised that anyone who might be concerned about workers who come to their door to call the main number at PVWC: 973-340-4300 and confirm that there are workers in their area. All workers should be wearing ID tags clearly identifying them as PVWC employees. The workers could also be from CDM Smith, PVWC's consulting firm, or from Pacific Construction. All should have proper identification.
Customers can use THIS ONLINE TOOL or go to THIS PAGE to determine if their service lines have lead. If the service line material is unknown, you can send photos of your water service line to PVWC. PVWC will review the photos and let you know if the service line material is made of lead. If it is, you can get the line replaced free of charge. Use the Service Line Photo Upload Tool to send your photos. If your address shows the presence of lead or galvanized steel, you will need to fill out a Right of Entry form, giving PVWC permission to enter the home for visual verification.
Other displays showed CAD (Computer Aided Design) images of the future Levine reservoir, which is still in the planning stages. Joe Getz, the Advisor for Public Outreach, and Julie Alesandrelli, Engineer talked about the plans to update PVWC’s three reservoirs, which are currently all open-air. Water is treated before going into the reservoirs, they said, but that leaves the stored water vulnerable to possible contamination. The plan for the Levine, New Street, and Great Notch reservoirs is to build covered tanks. Getz said, “All the studies that they did said this is your safest, your most secure, and your most cost-effective solution.”
Pushback and protests had slowed the project, delaying it by ten years, and completion of just this first reservoir will likely take two to two and a half years. Since there needs to be clean water available at all times, only one reservoir can be worked on at a time, leaving the other two full and ready to serve PVWC’s customers. Temporary storage will be built to hold additional water reserves once the Levine Reservoir is ready for construction to ensure uninterrupted service.
Dave Melnick is the Senior Water Treatment Operator at PVWC. He explained the process by which water is taken in and treated to make it clean and safe for drinking. In addition to the several steps that remove debris and metals from our water, PVWC adds in a corrosion inhibitor which stops the flowing water from attacking the metal in the pipes. This reduces the leeching of metals into the drinking supply.
PVWC operates an emergency alert system to help its customers know when there may be an interruption to service. These messages may include information on water main breaks, road closures, boil water advisories, or other emergencies. To sign up, CLICK HERE and fill in the requested fields.