Water Main Replacement in Westfield Would Damage Relatively New Road

Mike Bange, manager of field operations for New Jersey American Water, explains why the utility wants to tear up a road that was built just five years ago. Credits: Jackie Lieberman

WESTFIELD, NJ — New Jersey American Water wants to rip up a five-year-old road in Westfield. Mike Bange, manager of field operations for New Jersey American Water, explained why at the Westfield Town Council’s conference session Tuesday night.

Because of multiple main breaks, dirty water complaints and low water pressure (which can affects not just quality of life but also effectiveness of fire hydrants), the utility plans to replace approximately 5,500 feet of six-inch water main with eight-inch water main in two areas.

The first area—Watchung Fork, Lenape Trail and Ramapo Way—saw major road improvements about five years ago. This project would mean putting 26 holes in those roads, Councilman James Foerst noted.

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“You spend a lot of money on the streets and we should have a moratorium, like 10 years,” said Foerst.

But Bange called the aging six-inch main “a time bomb that could break at any time.”

 NJ American Water had proposed replacing the water main there four years ago, and the project was deferred until now.

Twenty-six homes would receive better service if this main were to be replaced, explained Bange.

Councilman Frank Arena noted that the switch to a new main would mean a big quality-of-life improvement for those customers.

“Every day you’re using your water,” he said.

If the council does not approve the plans, NJ American Water would likely take the money set aside for this project and spend it in a different town, Bange told the council.

Mayor Skibitsky said he hoped that the town and NJ American Water could come to an agreement that would see the utility repairing any damage it made as well as possible.

“The road’s not going to be destroyed. It’s just not going to be what it was,” said the Mayor. “I think that if they do it right, it’s going to be fine.”

Citing the water main breaks, dirty water complaints and fire hydrant issues, Skibitsky told the council, “We need to proceed.”

Water main replacement in the other section, Cottage Place and North Cottage Place, was uncontroversial.

The utility also plans to replace 86 service connections and seven fire hydrants as part of the project. All of the work, if approved, would be finished in August before school starts, Bange said.

Affected customers will receive a flier from NJ American Water explaining how the project will affect their service. In that filer, the company explains that each water service connection would be interrupted for approximately two hours while the service line is connected to the new main. Their contractor notifies each customer in advance on the day the interruption is to take place. Customers may experience a slight discoloration of water when the new pipeline is placed into service.

Work hours would be from 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Sections of Watchung Fork, Lenape Trail, Ramapo Way, Cottage Place and North Cottage Place would be closed while the work is taking place.

NJ American Water’s customer service center can be reached at 1-800-272-1325.

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