LIVINGSTON, NJ – The governing body was impressed with the status of Livingston’s water utility after Township Engineer Jeannette Harduby provided an update to the township council on Monday about a new purchasing agreement that will become effective on Jan. 1 as well as capital improvements being made to existing infrastructure.

According to Harduby, the township has made extensive improvements to its water utility infrastructure over the past several years to provide “safe, reliable and cost-effective drinking water” to residents and will “continue these improvements to ensure the resiliency of our system in the face of increased private water demand and regulations from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).”

At the conclusion of her presentation, which provided a brief overview of Livingston’s water utility, what has recently been done to improve it and what capital improvements are forthcoming, the mayor and council praised her team on these continued efforts.

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“Water use and water quality are such hot-button issues in the state right now, and you guys are just on it,” said Councilman Shawn Klein. “You’re saving us a lot of money, you’re saving us water usage, and I think everyone is doing a really great job.”

Deputy Mayor Rudy Fernandez agreed, stating that Livingston is “way ahead of the curve.”

“We’ve been working on this and investing in infrastructure long before it got to everybody else’s radar screen,” he said. “This isn’t the most exciting thing—we’re not there for a ribbon cutting every time you put down some more sewer lines—but […] this is all terrific.”

Township Manager Barry Lewis also pointed out that because this is a self-liquidating utility, the township has been able to make these upgrades without increasing water rates. Since much of this process precedes his appointment, Lewis commended the various departments involved and the township council for not only funding these improvements, but also for “having the wisdom to do it” over the last several years.  

“The quality and quantity of our water in Livingston in strong,” said Mayor Al Anthony. “Thank you for all of your hard work.”

As she updated the public on some of the upcoming changes and the cost savings involved, Harduby noted that “every year, the council invests very heavily in our water infrastructure and they fund capital improvements so that we can increase our system capacity and we can improve our infrastructure so that we can meet these current demands and then these future [DEP] demands.”

Harduby explained that the township owns and operates a water utility that supplies potable water to approximately 30,000 customers through a network of water source wells, treatment, transmission, distribution and storage infrastructure. Water from the township’s 14 production wells is currently supplemented with purchased water from New Jersey American Water (NJAW).

However, the basic stipulations of the current contract with NJAW, which Harduby described as a “general metered-service contract,” are that the township has “a maximum annual supply of 300 million gallons” that it is allowed to purchase from NJAW per year. As of Jan. 1, 2020, the township will be under a new contract with NJAW that will help achieve the goal of eventually becoming more dependent on the township’s own water supply.

“We notified NJAW of our intent to switch to from this general metered-service contract to a commodity demand (CD) contract, and that’s going to become effective Jan. 1, 2020,” said Harduby. “We are going to have a new nominated demand of 1 MGD (metered gallons per day) that we will purchase ‘steady-state’ from NJAW.

"We are going to supplement the purchase of water from NJAW with an additional .25 MGD purchase agreement with the East Orange Water Commission. We will also have an emergency purchase agreement with East Orange so that, should any of our wells ever need to shut down or should we have a problem in town, we can purchase additional water from East Orange.”

According to Harduy, the township is currently reviewing the legal terms of this agreement with the East Orange Water Commission. She added that East Orange and the Township of Livingston are “jointly working to ensure the reliability of our interconnection by actively operating it and the associated shut-off valve.”

“With our combined NJAW and East Orange purchases, our total purchase cost for water in the township is going to be about $1.3 million,” she said. “This is a cost savings of over $536,000 a year…Over time, we hope to realize additional savings. As we make improvements to our wells and increase our own production capacity, we’re going to have the ability to renegotiate these contracts and eventually purchase less water and become more dependent on our own water supply.”

In addition to its 14 production wells, Harduby explained that the township also owns and operates five associated water treatment facilities that remove volatile organic chemicals (VOCs) from eight of the wells, with an additional VOC treatment facility under construction at Well No. 6.

The township’s water utility also includes seven water storage tanks with a combined capacity of more than 8 million gallons and three booster stations that pump water between gradient zones and interconnections with NJAW in the NJAW high zone and with East Orange. According to Harduby, there are more than 160 miles of water main infrastructure with approximately 20 miles of piping in the NJAW zone that the township maintains.

Water Capital Improvements Overview:

As part of her presentation on Monday, Harduby also touched upon the numerous capital improvements that the Livingston Water Department has completed.

She explained that the Township of Livingston has implemented a priority program to replace and line existing water mains that are in poor condition. To date, she said, more than five miles of water mains have been replaced through this program and a project to line approximately 3,300 LF of existing mains on Tanglewood Drive, Tiffany Drive, Tilden Court, Trafalgar Drive, and Tulip Court is currently under construction.

Another project to replace and upsize sections of approximately 8,280 linear feet of water main on Dorsa Avenue, Naylon Place, Naylon Avenue, Beaufort Avenue, Concord Drive and Notch Hill Drive will be designed by Mott MacDonald with construction anticipated to begin in 2020.

The township has also completed extensive well improvements, according to Harduby.

At Well No. 8, the existing well and clearwell pumps were replaced, and a calcium hypochlorite tablet feed system, generator, roof and process piping were installed with additional electrical and SCADA improvements as well.

“This is how we disinfect our water so that it’s safe to drink,” said Harduby. “We’ve installed these tablet chlorination systems because they are easier for our operator to use and they are safer than the previous methods we were using.”

At Well No. 9, the existing well and clearwell pumps, packed tower and blowers were replaced, and a calcium hypochlorite tablet feed system and process piping were installed with additional roof, electrical and SCADA improvements.

At Well No. 12 a calcium hypochlorite tablet feed system, generator and process piping were installed with additional electrical and SCADA improvements.

At Well No. 1, the township is moving forward with the design of a new generator that will allow the water department to maintain electrical operations on the site and power the well pump in the event of power loss at the facility.

“Right now, the generator at that site is under sized and can only operate the building; it’s not sized to operate the well.  So when we have power outages, we have to shut the well down. This new generator is going to allow us to operate both the facilities there and the well there.”

Furthermore, according to Harduby, DeMaio Electrical Company is nearly complete with the improvements being made to Well No. 6, which include replacement of the well pump, installation of a calcium hypochlorite tablet feed system, construction of a Volatile Organic Compound (VOC) removal facility and installation of a generator with architectural and electrical modification to the building.

Harduby noted that this project is being primarily funded through a $1.176 million grant from the NJDEP.

“Following the completion of this project, Well No. 6 is going to be online for the first time since the fourth-quarter sampling in 2014 identified VOC’s in excess of the Maximum Contaminant Level set by the DEP,” she said. “That is, again, just updating our resiliency an improving our own production of our own wells so that we are less dependent on these other sources of water.

According to Harduby, the township has prioritized tank maintenance and repairs over the past several years.  

In 2015, the township completed the rehabilitation of the Riker Hill Tank (Tank No. 1) with minor structural repairs and modifications and the recoating of the interior and exterior of the tank. In 2016, the township performed a similar scope of work at the Fawn Drive Water Tank and repaired the exterior paint of the Mine Hill Tank.

Repainting of the interior and exterior of the Chetwynd Water Storage Tank with minor structural and electrical improvements is near completion, according to Harduby. She added that the township’s cell carriers are preparing to relocate their equipment back to the tank from the temporary tower that has been in place there.

In the coming weeks, the township will issue a request for proposals for the design of a mixing system for the water storage tanks to improve water quality by decreasing water storage times.

Since 2015, the township has also completed an annual leak-detection program utilizing acoustic equipment to pinpoint leak locations and reduce the township’s lost water.

“In 2015, we located and fixed leaks totaling 505 gallons per minute (gpm), and in 2016 we located and fixed leaks totaling 141 gpm,” said Harduby. “We've had similar success in 2017 and 2018. In our 2019 leak detection, we located and fixed leaks totaling 160 gpm.”

At this point in Harduby’s presentation, council members recalled a time prior to 2015 when the township was losing 30 or 40 percent of the water it was producing.

“We had a very high percentage of lost water because we had not invested in our water mains and we had not done detection before,” said Harduby. “Now that we’ve done it consistently, we have decreased [the amount of lost water] probably by about 5-to-10 percent, and every year we do it, we keep decreasing it.”

Council members also pointed out water-quality issues occurring in nearby towns such as Newark and inquired whether Livingston should be concerned.

“Newark has a large issue because they have a lot of lead service lines, and right now they have so many that, for them to replace all of them, it is a very difficult and arduous task,” said Harduby. “In Livingston, we do not know of any lead service lines; we have not come across any lead service lines; and if we did, we would immediately replace and we are in a position to do that. We do lead and copper-sampling regularly, we meet all of the DEP’s regulations and I don’t see any reason why we wouldn’t continue to meet those regulations.”

Harduby concluded that the Livingston Water Department continues to prioritize SCADA improvements to its water infrastructure, enabling the monitoring and regulation of the water system from offsite locations.

According to Harduy, these SCADA improvements allow the township to monitor and set alarms and control points for the system, and SCADA improvements at the NJAW and East Orange interconnections will “enable the township to set specific controls to regulate the flow of water and ensure the township does not exceed our daily water allotments and face penalties from either water purveyor.”

This coming year will bring additional improvements and challenges to Livingston’s water system, according to Harduby.

She noted that the township is moving forward with a 1,4 Dioxane treatability study with Mott MacDonald (MM) at Well No. 9 and the Dorsa Avenue wellfield (Well Nos. 3, 5, 15 and 16) to determine potential treatment solutions should groundwater standards be adopted in the future regulating the contaminant in New Jersey.

The department is also “closely watching proposed legislation on PFOAs to monitor any additional treatment requirements,” Harduby said.

Additional asset management software will be implemented to allow the township to better track maintenance and location mapping of our water infrastructure in the office and in the field.