FLEMINGTON, NJ - Water alert! If your water is discolored, you are being asked to notify Flemington Borough officials immediately.
While the discolored water is safe to use, it represents a theft of municipal resources. According to OEM First Deputy Dave Giuliani during Thursday’s weekly Flemington update,, there has been an uptick of water theft by local contractors opening fire hydrants to clean their equipment and fill their tanks.
When the hydrants are used in that manner, it causes sediment to rise and accounts for the discoloration.
On May 22, the DPW flushed out the hydrant at the DOT yard on Route 31, which should resolve the problem. However, township officials are asking residents to notify them immediately if their water again becomes discolored.
More importantly, anyone who sees a truck other than a fire truck taking water from a hydrant is asked to call the borough immediately.
“We need to catch them in the act,” said Mayor Betsy Driver, “and when we do, we will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law and ask for restitution.”
OEM Coordinator Cpl Brian McNally added that anyone stealing water will be charged criminally. He said that only Flemington Water Utility employees and fire department or emergency services should open a fire hydrant.
If a truck is spotted opening or using water from a hydrant, residents are asked to call Water Utility Superintendent Josh Parks at 973-583-3193 or Public Works Director Mike Campion at 908-531-4395 during regular business hours. Any other time of day or on weekends, residents should call the non-emergency police dispatch number, 908-782-3434, and someone from thebBorough will be immediately contacted.
Driver noted that some borough vehicles are not clearly marked, however the preference is for residents to make a call even if they are in doubt about whether it is an authorized user or not.
Anyone whose water is discolored should run the cold water for a few minutes to clear the line. Again, the discolored water is safe to use, but it could cause discoloration of laundry.
If that happens simply rewash the clothes with clear water.
The guidance on discolored water and other topics were discussed during the 3:30 weekly Flemington Facebook community update and the 6:30 virtual council briefing Thursday.
McNally and Giuliani also warned residents of a scam that is occurring locally. People posing as contact tracers are calling or texting residents and saying they have been exposed to someone with Covid-19.
Both OEM officers said that while you could be contacted by a tracer, if they are legitimate, they will never ask for your social security number, insurance or bank information.
Joining Driver and Giuliani on the community call in were Flemington Food Pantry Executive Director Jeanine Gorman and pantry board member Gabriela Bonnavent.
As the restrictions set into place to flatten the Covid-19 curve are loosened and some measure of normalcy returns, local food pantries are still seeing a record number of people in need. According to Gorman, while the pantry is receiving more donations than ever before, there has been a 115 percent increase in new clients.
Donations and pickups can be done outside with shopping carts for drop off and a drive through for pickup. Additionally, a delivery can be set up for anyone without transportation.
Meal delivery from local restaurants, food or personal care products are all welcome, and particularly needed at this time are laundry detergent, diapers, pasta and oatmeal.
Monetary donations are helpful for purchasing produce and meat. Gorman also asked people to save and donate empty egg cartons.
“We get a lot of bulk egg donations so we need the cartons,” said Gorman.
The mayor noted that no one should be embarrassed to ask for help.
“Hard times fall on everybody,” she said. “The food pantry is a judgement- and stigma-free zone.”
“There are many people who have never needed social services before, they did everything right but through no fault of their own they need help now," she said.
She added that the registration process is simple. No documentation is required, and it is self-certifying.
“If you say you need food, that’s enough for us,” she said.