ORANGE, NJ — With Newark entering the final state of its lead service line replacement program, water remains at the forefront of many people’s concerns. But for residents of Orange’s North Ward, recent slight discoloration in the water is nothing to worry about — it is not lead, but a little bit of rust; residents just need to let their taps run for a few minutes until the water comes out clear.
This rust is a result of Suez Water North Jersey, the company that maintains Orange’s water system, opening an interconnection with New Jersey American Water in the North Ward.
“Due to lack of rainfall and surface runoff, the wells, which are a primary source of water supply for the Orange distribution system, are experiencing lower levels of water,” Suez area manager Jason Kiernan told the Record-Transcript. “These lower levels can negatively impact the critical pieces of equipment that maintain service reliability to our customers. In order to protect this equipment and infrastructure within the distribution system, outdoor water restrictions were implemented to decrease water demand throughout the distribution system. As an additional measure to protect the system, the decision was made to open the interconnection that will allow water supply to remain consistent throughout the system despite drought conditions.”
According to the city, this interconnection is not permanent; it will remain open as long as needed to ensure residents have access to water.
“In an abundance of caution, the decision to open the interconnection between West Orange and Orange was made to ensure service reliability and to protect critical infrastructure within the Orange distribution system,” Kiernan said. “The interconnection was opened on the afternoon of Thursday, Sept. 17, with minimal impact to customers throughout the city of Orange Township. We will continue to monitor and evaluate current drought conditions as they pertain to the system, and, as they improve, we will move forward with next steps in closing the interconnection.”
Upon opening the interconnection on Sept. 17, Suez conducted a water flow test from 2 to 4 p.m. to ensure there would be sufficient water pressure to reach upper floors in multistory structures, such as apartment buildings.
“The purpose of a flow test is to determine capacity of water flow,” Kiernan said. “Prior to opening the interconnection, best practice requires a flow test be conducted to not only assess the condition of the pipe, but to allow any water or sediment that has been sitting in the pipe to pass through prior to opening the interconnection.”
According to Kiernan, with this interconnection now open, fresh water is flowing into the Orange water system, not out.
“The city of Orange Township draws its water supply from well aquifers at different locations,” he said. “Together, these wells are part of one centralized system that make up the Orange distribution system. The opening of the interconnection between West Orange and Orange will only add water to the Orange distribution system. The wells will still remain active. There is no change in water source, only an increase in supply from the NJ American Water–West Orange system.”
If residents have any questions, they can call 862-438-0647; this hotline is available 24/7.