SOUTH ORANGE, NJ – The village will enter into a 30-year contract with New Jersey American Water (NJAW) to supply its water after the Board of Trustees approved the deal at its meeting on Monday night.
The vote comes after months of negotiation with NJAW when it was decided not to continue with East Orange Water Commission as the village’s water supplier. NJAW will the bulk supplier of water, but South Orange will retain the ownership of its water system.
NJAW will take over as supplier on Dec. 31, 2016. Before it can deliver water to South Orange, NJAW must connect its supply to the South Orange system, which will require installing more than a mile of large water mains, according to village counsel Steven Rother.
In addition, NJAW will build a pumping station that will have backup pumps and a generator to ensure that water delivery is not interrupted in case of pump failure or a power outage, Rother said. “All that cost of the interconnection will be assumed by New Jersey American,” he said.
“We negotiated this contract for some considerable period of time,” Rother told the trustees. “It has a term of 30 years, but it is a very flexible contract.”
The rate the village is charged will be set by the state Board of Public Utilities. Rother said the village will have two years to set the amount of water required. The village always has the option to purchase additional water if demand exceeds the set requirement.
“There will be other contracts that we will be looking into” for increases due to seasonal demand, Trustee Howard Levison said. He noted that the village also must make an effort to find and correct sources of water loss in the system. Initiatives would include finding leaks and checking water meters, he said.
Rother said the contract also allows South Orange to sell its water system in the future if it becomes more cost effective than having the village maintain the infrastructure.
The village has tried unsuccessfully for years to end its contract with EOWC, citing issues with water quality, concerns over supply and mismanagement. The contract with EOWC ends in 2016.
In September, the village held a town hall meeting to lay out its options to residents. Read that story here.