South River residents alarmed by brown-colored tap water

Posted: Updated:

Residents of a Middlesex County town say that they are concerned by the color of their drinking water.

The people of South River say that the water became brown over the weekend and are calling on the town’s leaders to fix it.

“We’ve never seen it this bad and actually yesterday we had solids coming in,” says resident Joe Butewicz.

South River Mayor John Krenzel says he knows that the water in the town has been discolored for years. And he agrees this weekend was the worst it has been. He says it may have been due to the summer heat.

"Over this weekend there was very heavy use, I mean hundreds of thousands of gallons of water was used. That shook up the entire system,” the mayor says.

Krenzel says that the heavy use caused sediment in the water pipes to flow into homes. The mayor says that it typically only happens to homes along Whiteplace Avenue where the pipes are oldest. But he says that it has been getting worse since January.

The mayor also says that ongoing demolition of houses by the Department of Environmental Protection’s Blue Acres program is also adding to the issue.

"They've been using the fire hydrants, opening them up and spraying the houses that they are demolishing,” he says.

But neighbors say that something more should be done.

"These contractors should bring in water trucks of their own to keep the dust down,” Butewicz says.

South River officials say they will decrease hydrant use and use of the borough’s six wells. Instead, more water will flow from East Brunswick, which won't shake up the system.

"We have to get on top of it. And it has to be addressed, enough is enough,” the mayor says.

Krenzel says the water is safe. But he says he does not recommend drinking it on days that it is discolored.

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