By JOHN T. WARD
Some quick updates on Red Bank water…
The stinky, dirty water that affected some customers earlier this month has been corrected, borough officials tell redbankgreen. But they’re being cautious about turning on the tap too quickly.
And with the townwide water-meter replacement project underway, users should be alert to a change in their billing.
Details on both below.
• As redbankgreen reported November 11, the annual cut-over from local well water to water supplied by New Jersey American Water Company prompted a rash of complaints from customers about foul appearance, odor and taste.
Though borough officials said the water was safe to drink, the situation prompted the water utility to quickly revert to its own wells while NJAW addressed a problem with excessive algae at its Swimming River Reservoir in Tinton Falls, according to director Cliff Keen.
As of Monday, Keen said the algae problem had been cleared up, and the borough, which buys its water from NJAW for six months of each year, would resume using the private company’s supply Tuesday or Wednesday. But as a precaution, and to minimize “brown water” resulting from turbulence in the supply lines, the changeover this time would be gradual, Keen said.
Keen said the process, which is usually completed in a day or so, would be stretched out over the next week to 10 days, starting with about 350 gallons per minute of NJAW water let into the system, rather than full 1,000 GPM. He said the switchover would be completed by December 1.
Customers who experience problems should call the utility at 732-530-2770.
• The installation of new water meters as part of a $1.6 million system upgrade is underway, with installers from National Metering Services making appointments with homeowners and doing the swap-outs.
redbankgreen can report from personal experience that the removal of the old meter and installation of the new wireless meters can take as little as 20 minutes, as advertised on the installer’s website.
But customers should be aware that they’ll receive a bill, separate from the usual quarterly invoice, for the final reading of the old meter, which must be paid within 30 days to avoid an 18-percent interest charge.
Why two bills? Because the old meters measured usage by the cubic foot, and the new ones go by gallons, said Administrator Stanley Sickles. Including the two calculations on a single quarterly bill would be “too confusing,” he said.
One cubic foot equals 7.48 gallons.
Sickels said Monday that no customers had complained about the separate bill or its due date.
There’s no direct charge to users for either the new meters or their installation, though some customers may be charged $35 for “any additional work that may need to be completed, such as the installation of a code-required electrical bonding wire around the meter,” according to a letter from National Metering.
Customers who haven’t yet been contacted about meter replacement should expect to receive a postcard from the installer to schedule an appointment for the work sometime in the next seven months.
The new wireless meter system enables the borough to get up-to-the minute usage reports without a visit to the the property for billing purposes. It can also alert the town to possible leaks and emergencies that went undetected for months under the existing system, officials said.
All installers will wear company-branded clothing and carry identification. Homeowners with any doubts about who they’re dealing with are urged to call borough hall, where employees in the utilities and finance departments will have the worker IDs on file for confirmation, Keen said.