NJ’s Aging Underground Pipes Reaching Emergency Disrepair

July 25, 2012 | Energy & Environment
Recent emergencies, such as the collapse of three water pipes in Monmouth County that left 20,000 New Jerseyans short on clean water, have drawn attention to New Jersey’s aging system.

By Christopher Rightmire for New Jersey Newsroom

New Jersey’s water infrastructure is aging and falling into disrepair.

Recent emergencies, such as the collapse of three water pipes in Monmouth County that left 20,000 New Jerseyans short on clean water, have drawn attention to New Jersey’s aging system.

The American Society of Civil Engineers gave New Jersey’s water infrastructure a grade of “C” on their last report card in 2007. The report also said New Jersey’s growth in population threatens already overburdened public services such as drinking/waste water.

Rick Howlett, the executive director of New Jersey Water Association, said to the Daily Record, “Most of our infrastructure in this industry is buried and most of it is aging.” He went on to say, “We’re certainly not replacing our infrastructure with a pace that is commensurate.”

The infrastructure is deteriorating and not getting replaced because of the overall lack of attention to it. Dennis W. Doll, president of Woodbridge-based Middlesex Water Co., told the Daily Record, “When it’s a tough budget year, it’s easier to ignore what’s underground. The unfortunate reality is that maintenance often gets deferred.”

New Jersey’s water infrastructure is extremely old. New Jersey American Water estimated that 15 percent of its piping will hit 100 years of service by 2020, and Seaside Park just recently swapped out its century old wooden piping.

In response to these emergencies and reports the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities approved a rule in May to help water companies renew their water distribution systems.

According to the state’s website the law will allow water companies to get more funding for repairs from water users by collecting a distribution system improvement charge (DSIC).

According to FierceEnergy.com, costs associated with emergency repairs, which get passed onto customers, can be 10 times higher than pre-planned work.

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