By JOHN T. WARD
After a burst of complaints about stinky, foul-tasting water, Red Bank officials reverted to the municipal water supply earlier this week, redbankgreen has learned.
Now, those officials are waiting for New Jersey American Water Company, which supplies the borough’s water for six months of the year, to clear up an algae problem at the Swimming River Reservoir before resuming the flow, they said.
Under a longstanding arrangement ordered by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, Red Bank’s water utility gets half its product from its own wells on Chestnut Street and Tower Hill, and other half from NJAW.
In part, the arrangement is needed to allow the local wells to recharge, according to Administrator Stanley Sickels. The borough can choose when to buy from NJAW, and traditionally does so from November through April, when the demand on the private utility is lower, he said.
But the switchover earlier this month prompted more than a dozen complaints to the water utility about taste and odor, said director Cliff Keen. The majority of complaints appeared to be localized from customers in the center of town, Sickels said.
On alerting NJAW, “we were told they were having a problem with the treatment process,” said Sickels. “So we chose to shut it down on November 7 until we can get it straightened out,” he said.
Turbulence created in the process of restoring the flow from the municipal wells resulted in a brown-water problem for some customers that officials were still addressing earlier at midweek, he said.
A NJAW spokesman did not reply to inquiries by redbankgreen about the nature of the problem, or the extent of the service area affected.
Sickels and Keen, though, said there was no health or safety risk, and attributed the problem to a treatment for algae blooms in the reservoir.
The first cold snap of the season is expected to kill off the algae and allow for a resumption of NJAW service, Keen said.