Freeholder says Monmouth County customers due reimbursements
FREEHOLD, NJ – New Jersey American Water should pay for costs borne by its customers during the days and weeks following this summer’s water main break, Freeholder Director John P. Curley says.
“I asked the state Board of Public Utilities to mandate that a rebate be given back to those residents directly affected by this water shutdown,” Curley said. “They need to give money back to the public for the period of time that water and water service was not provided.”
Curley, who successfully urged the BPU to investigate the June 29 water main break, faulted New Jersey American Water (NJAW) for its infrastructure problems that led to the collapse of three large water pipes, leaving 285,000 customers in 22 Monmouth County towns without water.
“It’s not just customers who had to buy water in towns that were under a boil water advisory, it’s also people who lost flower and vegetable gardens and other plantings due to the fact that all outside water use was banned,” Curley said. “It’s now time for the water company to pay the public back.”
The BPU had contacted Curley prior to announcing that it launched a probe into circumstances surrounding the outage at the company’s water treatment plant at the Swimming River Reservoir in Tinton Falls. The water company continues to restrict outdoor water usage as a result.
The collapse of a wooden footbridge and three large pipes resulted in boil water advisories for the entire county immediately after the break. Towns were taken off the advisory over the next couple of days as water pressure was restored. Outdoor watering bans remained in place for several weeks.
Curley is also questioning the company’s request to impose a Distribution System Improvement Charge to fund upgrades into more than 400 infrastructure projects statewide over the next two years. He said improvements should have been paid for from rate increases the NJAW already received.
“These infrastructure problems should have been taken care of out of all of the increases they have received since 2007 – and that is a large amount of money,” Curley said. “They need to give money back to the public for the period of time that water and water service was not provided.”
In February, the Board of Chosen Freeholders adopted a resolution opposing a decision by New Jersey-American Water Company to seek a 20 percent rate increase.