NJ American Water Officials Visit Aberdeen Township Council
After numerous water main breaks in Strathmore this weekend, water officials came to explain and answer any questions.
Officials from New Jersey American Water were present at the Aberdeen Township Council meeting Jan. 15 in order to answer questions about the series of water main breaks in Strathmore over the weekend.
Mayor Fred Tagliarini estimates that there were at least 9 breaks between Friday night and Sunday night in the F-section, I-section, O-section, C-section and on Lloyd Road near the N-section.
"There were at least five in the F-section alone. I think nine is a very safe number. And then on top of that there was a water tower in the I-section that was losing thousands of gallons a minute and they had to find that leak. That could have impacted all of Strathmore," he said.
Tagliarini, who lives in Strathmore, noted that he and his wife spent nearly the entire weekend without running water.
"We were without water, on and off, from Friday night to Monday morning. The last break was somewhere in the 9 p.m. hour Sunday evening," he said. "So just about when we started getting used to running water again Sunday evening, there was another break."
Kevin Keane, the NJAW local field manager, explained that the company has seen a spike statewide in water main breaks due to cold temperatures causing pipes to shift. However, he added that the pipes in Strathmore are deteriorating at a faster than normal pace.
"Aberdeen pipe is challenging. The soil conditions in Aberdeen are pretty harsh on the pipe. The pipe was installed in the late 40s and 50s and it should last longer than it is. The soil is basically eating away at the pipe," he said at the meeting.
Keane explained that when a water main breaks, the water must be turned off to make the repair. However, depending on the condition of the pipe, when the water is turned back on it may cause damage further down the line.
"The problem with the water main when the integrity starts to diminish, when you turn off the water the soil pressure is now pushing on the water main and that creates more stress and then when you turn the water back on that stress tends to cause more water main breaks down the road," he said.
In order to try and slow the number of water breaks in the F-section, the water company reduced the water pressure in the pipes and left a hydrant open to handle any water surges, Keane explained. That can only be a short term fix, however.
"The long term fix is to replace the pipe and we've been pretty aggressive. We've replaced about 98% of the pipe in the A-section and the C-Section which had a lot of problems a few years ago has been quiet overall," he said. "We've had the same issues in the D-section, on Deerfield there were about 14 main breaks over there. We're in the D-section now replacing pipe over there. Our plan is to have the D-section replaced by year end."
Tagliarini said the company has an approximately six-year capital improvement plan that was approved at the end of 2012 by the Board of Public Utilities.
"I think they will want to reevaluate and see if any section has to be put ahead of the others," he said.
The township is in the process of scheduling a formal meeting with New Jersey American Water to evaluate the situation in Strathmore, according to Tagliarini.