Summer work planned for town’s water pipes

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — In new and ongoing work, Bloomfield will continue to improve its potable water system.

A section of main along Belleville Avenue will be cleaned and relined in the coming months, according to Bloomfield Township Engineer Paul Lasek. The section is from Woodland Road to the Belleville border. The work will cost the township $1 million. Lasek said the 12-inch pipe along the thoroughfare is at least 50 years old and has never been cleaned. Water quality and flow is expected to improve for the area serviced.

Rust deposited inside the main will be removed and pipe will be relined with a coating of cement. Lasek said the possibility of coliform and chlorine by-products will be eliminated. Levels of these substances are monitored for health reasons. Very little of the diameter of the pipe will be lost by the relining; Lasek said only as much as 1/4 of an inch.

“A cylinder is pushed through the pipe,” he said recently, to explain a pipe relining. “The cement goes around the cylinder and the cylinder is removed, like a mold.”
There will be traffic disruptions with the work, but less than if the pipe were being replaced, he said. Temporary water lines to residences will run along the gutter.
Lasek said a drawing of the water main is first being done.

“We’re looking to get the design down and immediately put the project out to bid,” he said. “If we get into the fall, we may have to put this off until the spring. This is the first phase. We’re also doing Broad Street and Broughton Avenue.”

Lasek said a drawing of the piping is necessary so that when the bids go out, everyone is looking at the same thing. And although Belleville Avenue is an Essex County road, the county is not involved except for granting permission.
“As far as the pipes, these are ours,” he said. “It’s our water system.”

The township also continues to eliminate dead ends in the water system.
“The whole idea is to maintain good flow to lessen the bacteria,” Lasek said. “Chlorine kills the bacteria but by-products are produced.”

Two groups of chemicals are formed by the by-products and both have been identified as carcinogens. But Lasek said a person has to ingest these chemicals over a long period of time for them to be harmed. Bloomfield drinking water, however, is continually monitored.

“There’s no magic bullet fixing water problems,” he said. “It takes maintenance. It will take a while and capital investment.”

He said there are about 100 dead ends in the pipes servicing township drinking water but not all of them are a problem. One that was a problem was on Evans Road. It has been eliminated with a connection to the Garrabrant Avenue pipe. Lasek said the problem with the flow was partly because the area has the highest elevation in the township. He said the elevation there is 125-foot higher than Bloomfield Center.

“We’ve taken care of the most problematic dead ends,” he said. “But the more we get rid of, the better. Broughton Avenue has a bunch. It’s an area with too many dead ends and brown water complaints. And that 12-inch main on Broughton needs to be relined, too.”

The township is in its third phase of eliminating the dead ends. The first two phases removed about 10 dead ends. Lasek hopes five more are removed in the next phase.

He said determining what dead ends are worse than others is based on a computer model that can even estimate the age of the water caught in a dead end.

“I know we have periodic issues and people want to know when it’ll stop,” he said. “It takes patience and perseverance. Over the past few years, I’ve been studying computer models. It takes a science. Think of the human body. There are parallels. It’s complicated. You cannot stop decades of neglect overnight.”