Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Water 101: Problems

I don’t want to say how long a time it’s been since I sat pencil in hand taking notes but that is how it was as I sat for an hour with Councilman John Gorman this week trying to get a handle on the water situation in Flemington.

My interest was piqued at the re-org when Mayor Hauck announced that this year we would be discussing the exalted subject of high pressure/low volume commodes. We have reached new heights here in Flemington.

Seriously though, we Flemingtonians have known for some time that we have water problems that we need to address. The two main issues are supply and arsenic levels. Today I will focus on supply.

In the 1960’s Flemington evidently got its water from the South Branch River. For various reasons that source was deemed unacceptable in the 1980’s and Flemington dug its own wells. Flemington currently has five operant wells that feed into the blue water tower on Shields Avenue. Each night that tower is filled from these wells to approximately 1,000,000 gallons/day. Daily, we use between 600,000 to 700,000 gallons of water. The aim is to keep the water tower at least half full in order to assure there is enough water and water pressure. The demands on the water supply are increasing with increased building in Flemington and regulations made since 9/11 by Homeland Security. Homeland Security requires Flemington to be able to supply water should our best well be unavailable. Furthermore, no longer a matter of digging a well at our pleasure, the state now has rules and ‘regs’ that we must adhere to in order to begin digging another well. It is a time consuming process merely to get state approval now.

Thrown into the mix, according to “The Economist” is the global movement afoot in which a few companies are attempting to buy up water supplies and set in motion with water what we have seen with oil, namely the resources concentrated in the hands of the few and for all practical purposes controlled by these companies. So it is not optimistic to think we will continue to have the luxury of cheap water for decades.

Stay tuned for Water 201: Solutions

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