NJ Pressure loss may cut use of water for 4,000

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June 9, 2000 Story Search FRANKLIN: Pressure loss may cut use of water for 4,000

Published in the Home News Tribune 6/09/00 By KEN SERRANO STAFF WRITER Franklin water-system customers face a ban on washing cars and filling kiddie pools because of low pressure -- not a shortage of water.

Because of a drop in pressure in the system, the Township Council is expected to vote to impose restrictions next week on about 4,000 people living from Skillman Lane south to South Middlebush Road.

The ban will still allow people to water lawns, trees and shrubs every other day, but will prohibit filling pools - including wading pools - washing sidewalks, homes and cars - except in commercial car washes - and running ornamental fountains.

The proposed restrictions came after John Baab, Franklin's director of fire prevention, noticed low water pressure two weeks ago in sprinkler systems at the Franklin Convalescent Center and the Towne Center shopping mall, both in Franklin Park, said Kenneth Daly, township manager.

"The problem isn't a lack of water, it's a lack of pressure," Daly said.

But why the pressure dropped remains a matter of dispute.

Although they acknowledge increased development is sucking more water from the system in the south, township officials are blaming the Elizabethtown Water Co.

"The impact (of more development) has come sooner than we expected because of a loss of water pressure from Elizabethtown," Daly said.

The township experienced a severe drop in pressure in 1999, from 95 pounds per inch to 75 psi, at the point where Elizabethtown pumps water into the system, he said.

But Elizabethtown says the problem is with the township's equipment.

Franklin also receives water from North Brunswick and New Brunswick.

Daly said water-company workers noticed a pressure drop after Hurricane Floyd disrupted Elizabethtown's operation in the township. But the change, he said, may be from a shift that occurred in 1999 in the way Elizabethtown pumps water into Franklin - sending it from its Weston Canal Road plant to the south of the township and then back uphill to the northern section of Franklin.

Erin Reilly, spokeswoman for Elizabethtown, said no changes have taken place in the way the company pumps water into Franklin since the Weston Canal Road plant was put into operation in 1996.

"I don't know where they're getting their information," she said. "Nothing has changed."

She acknowledged a slight drop in pressure on Elizabethtown's side of the system in Franklin, but nothing along the lines of the township's allegations.

Despite the conflicting accounts, Daly said Elizabethtown has cooperated in trying to find the source of the problem.

Daly said the township water company has closed the southern end of the system off from the north and is buying more water from North Brunswick to boost pressure in the south.

The water tank in Franklin Park should fill up in two weeks, alleviating the low pressure, Daly said. The sprinkler systems in the convalescent center and supermarket on Route 27 near South Middlebush Road are not in danger of failing, he said.

The boom in housing in the south spurred Franklin officials to add a water-booster pump station on Route 27 to the system. But the completion of that station lies about a year away, Daly said.

The increase in water from North Brunswick and the bisecting of the system should suffice to keep the pressure up until then, he said.

"What we've done now has in fact made the drop in pressure from Elizabethtown academic," Daly said.

No restrictions loom for the north, he said, but a dry summer could change that.

If the council votes to impose the restrictions as expected, the ban will go into effect upon publication of that action.

Under the proposed ban, houses with even street numbers can water lawns, shrubs and trees on even-numbered days, and vice versa for homes with odd street numbers.

from the Home News Tribune

Published: June 9, 2000


-- Martin Thompson (mthom1927@aol.com), June 09, 2000

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