New Jersey Files Lawsuit Against Trenton, Utility Over Water

June 17, 2020

New Jersey’s attorney general and environmental protection department have announced a lawsuit against Trenton and its water utility calling for improvements to the city’s water system, including reducing the risk of lead and pathogens in drinking water.

The suit announced Monday said Trenton Water Works earlier agreed to replace thousands of lead service lines and cover a finished water reservoir, among other things. But officials said the city and utility, due in part to inaction by the city council, had missed critical deadlines, leaving no option but a lawsuit.

The suit said the utility supplies about 29 million gallons of drinking water daily to more than 200,000 people, including residents of Trenton and four neighboring municipalities – Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell, and Lawrence Townships.

Mayor Reed Gusciora said council members had declined to approve plans to replace lead service lines and distribute reservoir water to large storage tanks, and without action the state might decide at some point to take control of the water utility.

Trenton Water Works announced last week that it had replaced more than 500 lead service lines since February. It estimated that there were some 37,000 lead services in the city and three of the four neighboring municipalities, though that number might be adjusted downward as survey teams provide more data.

The utility said Monday it doesn’t comment on litigation but has made “substantial progress” in its reorganization effort and capital plans including “improving filtration systems, water storage, water distribution, personnel and customer service.”

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