Crescent Park water issues
Boil water advisory, water restricitions still in effect
-by Erika Norton, originally publish on June 16, 2016
WEST MILFORD – When residents of the Crescent Park housing development woke up on June 5, they discovered they had no running water. Residents of the 206-home development have been dealing with little to no water since that day, and a boil water advisory has been in effect since June 7.
“I’m a household of six,” said Gina Vincenti, a lifelong resident of Crescent Park. “It’s such an inconvenience to go to people’s houses and shower. I don’t think members of the MUA are thinking about us at all. My oldest daughter has had two dance competitions during this time and having to get her ready with bottled water is extremely difficult. I’ve had to throw numerous cups away for my one-year-old because everything is getting moldy sitting in the dishwasher. We cannot cook because I will not use the little water when or if we have it to cook with and consume. It’s a real burden.”
According to a June 12 statement from the West Milford Municipal Utilities Authority (MUA), the water tank in Crescent Park was not holding water due to a potential break in the underground water main. The MUA has been shutting the system off at around 9 p.m. to allow the tank a chance to fill overnight.
In a post on their website the following day, the MUA said that by isolating the tank in the evening, the system was continuing to make headway in the tank overnight, but slowly. Over the next two days, they said they would follow the same procedure to try and maximize the holding tank.
“Several repairs have been made,” MUA commissioner David Ofshinsky said on June 13, “but the MUA is still working on the final solution.”
In an update on their website on June 15 at 11 a.m., the MUA said that for the last 24 hours, the system had been running normally off the tank and confirmed there were no longer any water main leaks in the system at that time, however due to the high demand of water in this development a water restriction remained in effect. The MUA sited the community being built on sand as a reason for why making repairs has been difficult, causing the water to be absorbed rather than flowing and breaking to the surface.
Due to these water issues, all Crescent Park residents have been under a boil water notice since June 7. A mandatory water restriction is also still in place until further notice, which the MUA said means no washing cars or homes, filling pools, using irrigation systems or sprinklers, or running hoses.
The residents who live at the higher elevations of the community have been hit the hardest, experiencing sporadic low water pressure and outages, according to Ofshinsky. Brianne Darragh Bauer lives at one of the houses higher up in the development on Sussex Drive, and said her husband had noticed a bit of a drop in water pressure a couple days before June 5, as did Vincenti, also on Sussex Drive, and some other residents who had contacted the MUA regarding the change.
For the last two weeks, Bauer said she has been driving to her in-laws’ house in Wayne, when she can, to bathe herself and her three sons, and to do laundry. Her husband has also been coming with them, but due to his work schedule, it hasn’t always been possible.
As of June 14, Bauer said she did have water, but they are still under mandatory water restrictions and the boil water advisory.
“I’m only showering my family in it when I absolutely have to,” she said. “We’ve all gone without showers or baths for a few days at a time and then if we can’t get down to Wayne due to our schedules, then I will shower them. I do have a three-month-old who I will not bathe in this.”
In their statement, the MUA said that they are working with an independent company to try and locate leaks, and that a leak detection system, including sensors, is also being installed. To help fill the tank and remediate the current hardship, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection granted the MUA use of supplementary water trucks.
To try and help struggling Crescent Park customers, a potable water truck is available at 50 Morris Avenue until the boil water advisory is lifted. The West Milford Office of Emergency Management also opened a shelter at Hillcrest Community Center from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. for the use of showers, bathrooms and bottled water, but was closed on June 15.
Both Vincenti and Bauer said they felt the MUA could have done more.
“The MUA is less than responsive,” Vincenti said on June 14. “Their voice mailbox on Monday stated that if you are a Crescent Park resident, we will not be returning your calls. They do not answer their phone during business hours and their updated messages are lacking at best. We have no ETA on a fix. At this point we haven’t even seen workers out working during the day for four days now.”
Bauer said that residents contacted the NJDEP, their state Senator, their U.S. Representatives and their state assembly members and “no one has answers for us.”
Vincenti said that water pressure has been low for for the past few years at her house, “to the point where sprinklers for the kids don’t squirt out too high and washing shampoo out of your hair takes forever.”
In February 2015, some residents of Crescent Park lost water service due to a water main break, however this issue was resolved within 24 hours. The age of the systems are typically the cause of water main breaks, Ofshinsky said, also a Crescent Park resident for 24 years.
He said the Crescent Park system is about 50 years old and that it is difficult to prevent these type of issues.