Moorestown to move forward with interim solution to removing TCP and TCE from water in town

Moorestown is moving forward with what township manager Scott Carew described as an immediate interim solution to the levels of 1,2,3-Trichloropropane (TCP) and trichloroethylene (TCE) found in the township’s drinking water.

At a special Feb. 10 meeting to discuss Moorestown’s water system, council gave the go-ahead to township utilities engineer L. Russell Trice and Carew to prepare specifications and bid documents for temporary equipment that would eliminate the TCP and TCE found in Wells 7 and 9 at the North Church Street Water Treatment Plant.

Wells 7 and 9 were closed upon the recommendation of the state Department of Environmental Protection in October 2014 after a small amount of TCP was found in the water, although Well 7 was reopened in June.

Since then, residents and township officials also grew interested in the levels of TCE found at the sites as well.

Trice estimated that it would take about three weeks to prepare the specifications and bid documents for the equipment to remove the TCP and TCE, with another three weeks for bidders to review the documents and then about two weeks for council to award a contract. Once council has awarded a contract, Trice estimated it would then take three months to get the equipment on site and running.

Carew said that while the township has been in contact with officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection on a weekly basis since the wells first tested positive for TCP and TCE, the township’s water continues to meet state and federal drinking water standards. However, Carew asked residents not to misconstrue that to mean Moorestown would simply do nothing about the substances in the water.

“The existence of any of these things is a concern, and it’s one that’s going to be addressed,” Carew said.

Carew said the interim solution would not require a bond and could be paid for comfortably with the township utilities surplus. He said the cost would be somewhere between $70,000 to $100,000 upfront, and would then include monthly rental fees of anywhere from $10,000 to $15,000 until a permanent treatment solution is in place 12 to 18 months later.

Carew also noted that while TCE levels in the township have not exceeded or violated the maximum contaminant level allowable by law, the levels have been up-ticking. He said without the interim treatment, there was a possibility Moorestown might violate the MCL before a permanent treatment is in place.

Regarding a permanent solution at the North Church Street plant, Carew said the township is looking at about six more months of engineering work for a solution to remove TCP, TCE, Manganese and radiological contaminants.

He said the work would be out to bid and under construction before the end of the year, and construction would then be completed sometime in 2017 with an estimated cost of about $7 million.

Other water treatment plants in town would also see work over the next several years, with the construction of new treatment processes at the Kings Highway water plant. Specifications for that plant are expected to go out in April or May, with council awarding a contract and construction beginning in the summer to be completed next year. The preliminary estimated cost for that work is $7.25 million, and will provide the treatment capacity to meet the well capacity already available at the plant.

The last of the water treatment plans will focus on the Hartford Road water treatment plant and will include the demolition and replacement of all existing treatment units and the rehabilitation of the existing treatment building. The proposed construction date of the plant is 2018 with work to be completed by Jan. 1, 2020, which could allow for a reduction in Moorestown’s next contract with New Jersey American Water, which expires in 2020.

The preliminary cost estimate for the project is $6.9 million.

After the presentation, residents in attendance spoke on a number of water-related issues, with several questioning why Well 7 was still open when after one month of being reopened TCP levels tested similar to where they had been upon closing.

Carew said the DEP was aware Moorestown was reopening the well, but never formally told the township not to reopen it or to keep it closed. Carew said council certainly could entertain the request of shutting the well down at a future meeting, but there would be budget implications as the township would be forced to buy more water from NJAM.

Some residents also mentioned the possibility of inquiring with the DEP to see if Moorestown could use the township’s emergency water interconnects with neighboring Mt. Laurel and Maple Shade to determine if perhaps Moorestown could purchase water from those towns.

Carew also told residents the township was working toward creating a special page on the township’s website to host information related to the water system for easier access by residents.