Over the past few years, Trenton Water Works has had a series of problems with contamination, discoloration, boil water advisories and a lack of timely communication in the city of Trenton and neighboring communities.

In response, Assemblyman Wayne DeAngelo (D-Mercer). the chairman of the Assembly Telecommunications & Utilities committee, has developed an action plan — a package of bills aimed at improving how TWW operates.

“One is just notification, two is more knowledge and transparency of the operation of the water facility," he said.

The agency has been plagued by water pressure problems and water coming up below standards after testing. In December, the water coming out of the taps of many customers was purple or pink, which was blamed on a water treatment chemical. The utility said the water was safe.

After the city failed to immediately issue a boil water order over issues on the Martin Luther King holiday, the state Department of Environmental Protection ordered the utility to take corrective action to make sure it is providing a safe product for customers within 30 days, in accordance with the Clean Water Act.

One measure from DeAngelo calls for specific guidelines to be put in place to notify municipal officials within an hour when there is a problem, and to post such notices online.

A second bill would require certain public water systems to develop or maintain a website with information about their service territory, their current and previous fiscal budget and contact information about who is supervising and managing the system, as well as relevant rules, regulations and policy statements.

He said a separate measure would direct the utility, when it's having a technical issue, “to have an independent licensed professional engineering company come on in and assist during the problems that they’re having.”

“Clean drinking water is probably the most important aspect of the environment that we’re trying to protect and maintain,” DeAngelo said.

When you turn on a sink at home or in a school, he said, you want to know what's coming out is clean water — "and if there is a problem, and accidents do happen, that we are notified in the most expediently measure possible.”

He noted private water utilities are currently required to notify customers within 1 hour about problems that arise, and said municipal water companies should be required to follow the same standard.

“Our mayors in the suburban districts that surround these water utilities need to be able to notify their residents and those that are drinking the water as quickly as possible," he said.

He said in the next few weeks the package of bills will be released from his committee and voted on in the full legislature.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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