Health & Wellness

Water Utility Contracts Focus on Lead, Asbestos

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NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — The city will continue to spend time—and money—updating is aging water system this year.

The City Council approved two contracts for more than $250,000 last week in professional services and infrastructure projects for the New Brunswick Water Utility. The work will mostly focus on water quality, lead testing and asbestos removal, according to the city.

In the first agreement, the city signed on to pay no more than $190,000 in 2017 to the Iselin-based Mott MacDonald Group for “engineering and support services” for the utility. The company earned the contract through a fair and open bidding process, according to the resolution.

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Water Utility Director Mark Lavenberg said during the council meeting that the firm will work on projects that aim to combat total trihalomethanes in the water.

That’s a contaminant that showed up at “unusually high levels” in tests taken last August at three sites in New Brunswick, according to the city. New Brunswick was issued a “violation” and subsequently notified customers of the matter.

Since then, city officials noted, the utility has take “successful” measures to cut down the presence of the contaminant, which forms when chlorine mingles with organic materials in the water.

Related health risks include cancer and liver, kidney and central nervous system problems, according to the city. But such conditions occur only in people who drink tainted water “over many years,” the city noted.

Under the contract, Mott MacDonald will also work on issues related to lead and lead testing, Lavenberg said.

“This is fully on budget for the year,” he said.

The City Council also approved a $67,800 deal with Plymouth Environment Co. of Pennsylvania for “asbestos abatement” services.

Under the terms of that agreement, Plymouth will remove and dispose of asbestos from a water treatment facility and a water pumping station, according to city documents.

The successful firm was one of five companies to bid on the project. Both Lavenberg and a representative of Mott MacDonald recommended the contractor.

Finally, though not related to water infrastructure, the governing body also green-lighted a $28,540 agreement with First Byte Corporation, which will maintain and provide support regarding software used in tax, water and sewer billings and collections.

The tab runs $19,760 for services to the water utility, $6,080 for the tax collector and $2,700 for data processing costs, according to the city.

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