Hamilton Assembly Duo work to get bill passed to expedite boil water notices to local officials

Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, Assemblyman Dan Benson and Mayor Jeff Martin
Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo, Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin, and Assemblyman Dan Benson. Photo by Michael A. Sabo.

Measure Stems from Trenton Water Works Concerns

Ensuring municipalities are able to help quickly inform residents of boil water notices, a bill sponsored by Assembly members Dan Benson, Wayne DeAngelo and Nancy Pinkin requiring boil water notices to be given to the mayor and the city clerk within one hour of testing was signed into law Thursday by Governor Phil Murphy.

“Residents should learn immediately of an issue with their water to take the necessary precautions for their families,” said Benson (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “The first step is supplying that information to municipal leaders to help notify families.”

The new law (formerly bill A-2423) responds to a series of issues arising from Trenton Water Works (TWW). In January 2018, the State Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) issued four violations after the failure of a filter went undetected for more than a month.

Benson and DeAngelo are sponsors of multiple bills aiming to address the concerns raised over the last year, including failing to promptly notify residents of boil water notices.

“We’ve been working to improve communication and services for water utilities not just in Trenton but throughout the state,” said DeAngelo (D-Mercer, Middlesex). “This another step in protecting public health and ensuring residents know when, and as soon as possible, there is a concern with their drinking water.”

“A municipality has a better chance of protecting its residents from problems if they are aware of the issue immediately,” said Pinkin (D-Middlesex). “This is a common-sense law that will help residents and municipalities stay informed.”

The law requires the owner or operator of a public water system to provide notice to the mayor and municipal clerk of each municipality that receives water from the public water system when a boil water notice is in effect, regardless of whether the notice is in effect for that specific municipality.  Notifications are to be made via telephone and electronic mail as soon as possible, but no later than one hour after the public water system learns of the contamination.

Trenton Water Works was a major issue during the recent mayoral campaign that newly elected Mayor Jeff Martin pledged to work on for the safety of Hamilton residents.

Martin issued the following statement after the signing of the law.

“I want to thank our great legislators for continuing to fight to protect Hamilton residents from unnecessary delays in water quality notifications”, said Martin.  “During the last boil water advisory, we heard from many residents who took medication, brushed their teeth or gave their kids water to drink during the delayed notification.  This will ensure any unreasonable delay does not happen again.”  

The notice is in addition to any other notice required by State or federal law and would contain: name of the public water system affected; geographical area affected; date of the occurrence; consumer corrective measures to be taken; and a telephone number where customers may reach an appropriate party. Upon the boil water notice being rescinded, the law also requires the owner or operator of the public water system to provide notice via both telephone and electronic mail to the affected municipalities.

The law was approved by the full Assembly in November, 74-0, and by the Senate in March of 2018, 38-0. It takes effect immediately

About The Author

Irving Lawrence Duckwald III is a freelance writer and blogger based in Central New Jersey. He has a penchant for fried chicken, fast cars, and fancy suits. With a knack for "setting the record straight", he can argue till the cows come home why it's Pork Roll and not Taylor Ham.