State intervention of troubled Trenton Water Works ‘imminent’ – NJ Senator
A state takeover of the troubled Trenton Water Works is apparently imminent.
New Jersey Sen. Shirley Turner, D-Mercer, and her Assembly counterparts, Verlina Reynolds-Jackson and Anthony Verrelli, say they have met with the NJ Department of Environmental Protection twice in the last few weeks. They say they have been assured the DEP will "intervene immediately."
Issues with water quality have been significant, from discoloration to lead levels and even parasites all detected.
Trenton Water Works provides drinking water to the City of Trenton and parts of Hamilton, Ewing, Lawrence and Hopewell Townships.
"The challenges with Trenton Water Works operations are well-known throughout the State," Turner says, "Intervention has been necessary long before today to ensure the area's water system functions at the highest standards for residents’ health and safety."
A group of mayors from towns serviced by Trenton Water Works also begged the DEP to intervene in a letter claiming, "Trenton cannot meet the needs of its water utility customers by producing clean and safe water."
Lawrence Township mayor John Ryan added, "For far too long, the customers of TWW have lived with the fear, and at times reality, that the water they drink and use daily is unsafe."
While Turner says the DEP has agreed to 'intervene,' it remains unclear what form that intervention will take. She says, "We all agreed that a full state takeover was not an option."
Most likely is some form of administrative oversight. The DEP has yet to announce what action, if any, they will actually take.
Will that be enough? Maybe.
Trenton Mayor Reed Gusciora has repeatedly blamed the City Council for "voting down critical projects including decommissioning the reservoir, replacing water mains, lead remediation, heavy equipment, facility upgrades, chemical purchases, and debt service."
If the state does step in, even in an administrative role, they could be able to override the council rejections and move forward and accelerate remediation efforts.
Gusciora did defended his administration's efforts with TWW, claiming in a statement to the Trentionian that "substantial progress" has been made, despite the City Council blocking key projects.
The mayor is expected to hold a news conference Wednesday to address the TWW.