Town considers a second water source

BLOOMFIELD, NJ — Funding for the development of a secondary source of Bloomfield drinking water has been proposed by Township Administrator Matthew Watkins.

Photo by Daniel Jackovino Township Administrator Matthew Watkins and Engineer Paul Lasek look over a map of Bloomfield while discussing the proposed water pumping station.At a Monday, Dec. 3, conference meeting, Watkins told the council it would cost $30,000 to demolish a gas station now located on the proposed site at East and West Passaic avenues, and $2.4 million to build a pumping station to accommodate potentially four pumps. The abandoned gas station property was purchased for $330,000.

At a meeting in his office on Thursday, Dec. 6, attended by Township Engineer Paul Lasek, Watkins said the pumps would allow the township to partially switch water reservoirs, from the Pequannock to the Wanaque. These water supplies are located in West Milford and Wanaque, respectively. Bloomfield drinking water is now provided by Newark through an agreement in which Bloomfield taps into three Newark-owned water mains located in the township. The arrangement cost the township $750,000 annually, or about $55,000 monthly. This water comes from the Pequannock.

The proposed station would tap into one of three water mains that are close by and run together near Garrabrant Avenue. One is a Newark/Pequannock water main from which Bloomfield now draws half of its water. Another belongs to the Passaic Valley Water Commission, while the remaining one carries water for the North Jersey Water District. The township is a founding member of the North Jersey Water District, according to Watkins.
“That’s our water,” Lasek said of the North Jersey main. “There is water in the reservoir that’s ours.”

“We have this century-old agreement to buy Newark water,” continued Watkins. Furthermore, the change will give us a different quality of water. We contend that it’s better.”

Lasek said water from the two reservoirs are treated at two different plants. He believes the treatment of water from Wanaque is better.
The new pumping station, Watkins said, would also provide the township with resilience in the event that it loses its Pequannock supply.
Although Bloomfield pays Newark $55,000 monthly, the savings by installing the pumping station will be one-half that because the new pumps would provide water for only half the town. The rest of the town will still be receiving Pequannock water or a mix of waters from both reservoirs.

“You can’t push all the water from north to south,” Watkins said. “The artery, the transmission lines, the biggest are now 12-inch and 16-inch pipes on a 5-mile stretch.”
He said to get North Jersey District Water down to the south end of Bloomfield would require replacing the pipes now in use with 24-inch pipes, an enormous undertaking.

“The solution for the sake of water quality would be that the Pequannock water treatment has to be improved,” Watkins said. “Newark is doing that.”
Lasek was confident Newark would improve its water quality.

“It’s going to take them a couple of years,” Watkins said. “It’s going to take us a couple of years. They’ll both be done at the same time if Newark keeps to its commitment. The water quality is better now than 10 years ago. The standards are being raised.”
The pumping station will at first have three pumps although just one will be working at any time. In the event that the fourth pump is installed when larger water mains are in place, then two pumps will work simultaneously.

Both Watkins and Lasek said the pumping station will be designed to fit into the residential character of the neighborhood and that vibrations from the machinery will not be a problem.

Second Ward Councilman Nicholas Joanow, in a statement, said neighborhood residents have concerns about the pumping station.
“I would recommend to the administration a Town Hall meeting so the residents can be aware of what’s going on and offer suggestions,” he said. “The mayor and council are very sensitive to the needs of the community and will do anything possible when rebuilding this site to acknowledge those concerns.”

In an email subsequent to the interview in Watkins’s office, Lasek said that according to the computer model, the new pumping station would provide water southward to approximately Belleville Avenue. Water from interconnections on Bloomfield Avenue will provide water southward.
“The areas between Bloomfield Avenue and Belleville Avenue will receive a mix of water from all three interconnections,” he said.

The Bloomfield Avenue connection is located in the Center. The third interconnection is located on Bloomfield Avenue at Grove Street.
“To be clear,” Lasek said, “these are approximate areas based on a computer model and the actual areas can vary slightly, depending upon use and conditions. For example, during a fire or even hydrant flushing, the water may go in directions different than normal.”
On the average, Bloomfield uses 6.5 million gallons of water daily, both men said.