Upgrades Planned for City’s Water Treatment Plant as Lead Service Line Replacement Program Nears End

NEWARK, NJ – As Newark enters the final stages of replacing nearly 18,000 lead service lines, city officials say more efforts need to be made to ensure the safety of drinking water, including infrastructure improvements.

Newark City Council this week during a special meeting introduced an ordinance to allocate $ 23 million to process and operational improvements to the city’s Pequannock water treatment plant, funded by loans from the New Jersey Water Bank’s funding program.

“We’re going to rehabilitate it with better technology – how we treat the water to continue to provide safe drinking water, while trying to reclaim some of the large water consumers we used to sell water to in other cities,” said Kareem Adeem, assistant director the Newark Water and Sewer Department, during the meeting.

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The improvements and upgrades to the wastewater treatment plant mentioned in the ordinance include optimizing coagulation – a water treatment process, replacing filters and an underwater system, replacing filter valves, replacing backwash pumps, changing filter flow control, and adding an air purification system and upgrading one Electrical and control system.

These planned modernizations follow additional efforts officials have made to modernize the facility to prevent corrosive water from spreading through the city’s pipes and homes. The facility is managed by Newark and has approximately 500,000 customers in North Jersey.

During a virtual meeting in February hosted by the city to keep residents updated on efforts to combat lead in drinking water, said Tom Schoettle, a CDM Smith representative who is involved in the utility removal program One of the facility’s recent projects is planning to add a clarification process in addition to the existing filters.

“The purpose of this additional purification phase is to do two things: To help the city increase the capacity of the purification plant currently so that we can bring more water into the city, but also to remove some of the organic matter and constituents – contamination – address that we want to remove from the water to unload and unload the filters, ”said Smith.

To date, officials have reported that the city has replaced more than 17,500 lead service lines, visited more than 20,000 homes for lead mining work, and paved roads that are expected to be operational again in the spring.

Although the city failed to meet haloacetic acid and trihalomethane levels for all of 2020, officials reported that they have seen a decline recently.

Earlier this year, the City of New Jersey and the New Jersey Environmental Protection Agency resolved a three-year lawsuit involving groups that filed lawsuits against the city in 2018 for dealing with its lead water crisis.

A settlement was brought before federal courts asking Newark to continue its ongoing progress in rehabilitation of pipelines, free water tests, and other measures.

In less than two years, Newark has replaced much of its leadership lines with a $ 120 million loan from Essex County and brought the program into its final stages.

In February, the city also signed two contracts with two providers that are expected to each replace 1,500 service lines by June.

“There is a lot to do in the future,” said Newark Mayor Ras Baraka during a virtual speech on the state of the water on Thursday. “Even after we replace those leading service lines, there is more work to be done on the water infrastructure and more work to make sure we deal with ours [combined sewer overflows]and there is still much to be done to ensure that we – besides the people of this beautiful city – invest in the greatest asset – and that is our water. ”

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