Concerned About Water, Residents Consider Not Paying the Bill
The 30-day window for notification began on April 1
Water worries remain for South Orange residents. On April 1, a 30-day period in which East Orange Water Commission (EOWC) was required to notify residents of testing results began. Now, as the end of April approaches, residents report no letters. At the same time, some residents who received quarterly bills over the weekend are choosing to withhold payment until changes are made or notices are received.
On March 25, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) issued a “revised Notice of Non-Compliance” to EOWC. The full text appears here on the Village website. That notice superseded the February 25, 2011 Notice of Non-Compliance, also posted on the Village website, in which the NJDEP cited the EOWC for exceeding one volatile organic compound (VOC), tetrachloroethylene, during the first quarter of 2011, and “for failing to comply with the requirement that the EOWC report to the NJDEP’s Bureau of Safe Drinking Water Implementation the VOC exceedance within 48 hours of becoming aware of it.”
One condition of the notice is this: “EOWC is required to circulate public notice of this violation to all water customers within 30 days of issuance of the Notice of Non-Compliance. The actual content of the required public notice must be approved by the NJDEP.” EOWC did not return calls on this matter.
Local concern is with both the test results and the lack of notification. As Patch reported last week, some posters on Maplewood Online seem nearly panicked about the situation, with a few residents banding together to pay for an independent water test of their own. Elsewhere in town, people are turning to bottled water or costly filtration systems. Now some residents are considering leaving the water bill unpaid.
Two residents who chose to use only first names explained that their frustration was with the lack of information. “I understand that water costs money, but information is free,” said Jeanne, a Montrose resident. “I just need to be told what’s going on.” Lee said that the situation is like the movie Chinatown. “It’s all about the water, but I just don’t what’s in there or what’s going on," he said. "They got me my bill no problem."
Harry Mansmann, executive director of the East Orange Water Commission, noted that the EOWC’s test results contradict those performed by the village. “There is no contamination,” said Mansmann. “The health, welfare and safety of residents is paramount,” he said. “The water from EOWC is the cleanest water in the state of New Jersey.”
Earlier this month, Village Administrator John Gross told Patch, “The Village fully expects the East Orange Water Commission to provide 100% compliance with all of the requirements from the DEP.”