Turner Requests DEP Investigation Into Trenton-Area Water Problem

TRENTON – Senator Shirley K. Turner (D-Mercer) today sent a letter to the Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Protection requesting a full investigation into what led to water service disruptions in the Trenton area early this week and a Monday directive that local residents boil their drinking water.

The Senator’s request comes after residents in several Trenton-area municipalities discovered brown water coming from the faucets in their homes and businesses and others experienced water outages or significantly reduced water pressure. The incident shuttered schools in the area, resulted in business interruptions and created panic among residents.

“Most disturbing in all of this is that the initial treatment plant shutdown reportedly occurred on Sunday, but many residents of the affected municipalities were not notified until late Monday of the potential water-quality threat,” Senator Turner wrote.

“As I believe you would agree, delayed notification of any possible health threat to the public is unacceptable. Residents should have been alerted as soon as plant officials discovered a potential problem. Instead, they were left wondering whether they could have been exposed to raw sewage or ingested otherwise contaminated water,” the Senator added.

“I respectfully request that you conduct a full investigation into how this incident happened and why residents were not promptly notified, so we can assure the residents of Mercer County, and the entire state of New Jersey, that this will never happen again.”

The Senator’s full letter is below.

October 6, 2010

Dear Commissioner Martin,

On Monday, Trenton-area residents were advised to boil their drinking water before consumption because of a shutdown at the Trenton Water Works filtration plant that caused brown water to be distributed to residents and businesses. The shutdown also led to water outages in some areas and a significant loss of water pressure in others.

It still is unclear exactly what led to this service disruption. However, the problems resulted in the early closure of several schools, interruptions at area businesses and wide-spread panic by residents across the county.

Most disturbing in all of this is that the initial treatment plant shutdown reportedly occurred on Sunday, but many residents of the affected municipalities were not notified until late Monday of the potential water-quality threat.

As I believe you would agree, delayed notification of any possible health threat to the public is unacceptable. Residents should have been alerted as soon as plant officials discovered a potential problem. Instead, they were left wondering whether they could have been exposed to raw sewage or ingested otherwise contaminated water.

I respectfully request that you conduct a full investigation into how this incident happened and why residents were not promptly notified, so we can assure the residents of Mercer County, and the entire state of New Jersey, that this will never happen again.

I thank you in advance for your cooperation and your timely response to this matter.

Sincerely,

Shirley K. Turner

Senator, 15th District