(Clifton, N.J. – November 4, 2021) – Ruby N. Cotton, President of the Passaic Valley Water Commission (PVWC) today sent a letter to nearly 40,000 customers explaining the recent water issues at the New Street Reservoir. The letter thanks customers for their patience and provides an explanation of the circumstances that caused customers to boil drinking water for 43 days.
The letter explains that the New Street Reservoir is an 11-acre man-made body of open water where drinking water is stored after it is treated but before it is delivered to customers. The reservoir sits about 75-feet lower than the surrounding hillside.
According to Cotton, remnants of Hurricane Ida brought torrential rain to the area in early September, dropping nearly a foot of rain overnight. The rain caused the Passaic River and nearby streams to rise, resulting in local flooding. The flood waters collected dirt, debris and other contaminants as it reached and overflowed the protective berms around the New Street Reservoir.
Once the water overflowed the protective berms, it contaminated the 52-million gallons of drinking water in the reservoir. As a result, PVWC issued a boil water notice for more than 250,000 people in Paterson and Passaic, as well as parts of Clifton and Woodland Park.
Cotton detailed the clean-up efforts that included pumping 150 million gallons of clean water through the reservoir, and 550 miles of water mains and over 4,000 hydrants. She estimated the final costs of the clean-up could reach $5 million, including nearly $2 million alone for bottled water that was made available to customers in the impacted area.
The letter cautions that “climate change has been a major cause of the problem.” Cotton said that PVWC “will continue working to install tanks to avoid this problem in the future.” The letters are expected to arrive in-home in 7 to 10 days.
Customers can visit www.PVWC.com for additional details and to sign-up for emergency notifications via voice, text and/or email.