Water Quality, Safety to be Addressed in South Orange Town Hall Meeting
Wednesday, March 13, 2013 • 9:47am
SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – A town meeting about village water quality with representatives of the Department of Environmental Protection is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 19 in Village Hall.
According to village President Alex Torpey, residents will be provided with the most recent information regarding the safety of the water and what actions are being taken to ensure its purity. Attendees will also get the chance to ask questions about the East Orange Water Commission, which provides drinking water for South Orange.
There have been ongoing concerns regarding the village’s water supply, fueled recently by the indictment of two EOWC officials, Executive Director Harry L. Mansmann and Assistant Executive Director William Mowell, for allegedly manipulating the results of monthly water tests. According to the indictment, the officials allegedly ordered wells contaminated with tetrachlorethene, or PERC, an industrial solvent commonly used in dry cleaning, to be turned off days prior to the tests. That way, the results would comply with the DEP’s maximum limit of PERC in water.
Despite issues with EOWC testing, the water in South Orange is “perfectly safe to drink,” Torpey wrote in an open letter to his constituents. “This is confirmed by independent testing the village has conducted as well as the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection.”
Village counsel Steven Rother said on Monday, “There has been a lot of misinformation” about the water supply, and he urged residents to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
Torpey said the DEP’s regulations are among the strictest in the United States. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency permits drinking water to contain five times the amount of contaminants than the DEP will allow.
The meeting will feature Fred Sickels, acting director of Water Supply and Geosciences for the state DEP, and Karen Fell, acting assistant director of the Water Systems Operations Element for the DEP
The meeting will be recorded and posted on www.southorange.org for citizens unable to attend.
The reporter is participating in a hyperlocal journalism partnership between The Alternative Press and Seton Hall University's Department of Communication & The Arts.