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Water is yellow, but New Brunswick officials say it’s still safe to drink

New Brunswick water main break on Voorhees Avenue. City of New Brunswick)
New Brunswick water main break on Voorhees Road. City of New Brunswick)

NEW BRUNSWICK — City officials say the yellow water coming out of some residents’ faucets is still safe to drink — although they probably should hold off on doing their laundry.

The discolored water on Thursday was the result of a water main break on Voorhees Road, a city spokeswoman said. The city utility was aware of discolored water in the Rutgers Village and Edgebrook neighborhoods.

A video of the discolored water coming out of the tap was being shared Thursday online after being posted to the Facebook page of New Brunswick Today, a publication that’s often critical of city officials.

Officials did not know how long the repairs would take.

A water main break in October also lead to discolored water and forced residents in the same neighborhoods to boil their water for two days.

The city’s water supply, meanwhile, was cited earlier this year for having “unusually high levels” of trihalomethane contaminants, which can harm pregnant women, infants, the elderly and those with compromised immune systems.

The city’s water utility has been in recent headlines after two employees were charged with bribery and official misconduct — and after city police confiscated a water meter from New Brunswick Today publisher Charlie Kratovil.

Kratovil says he had received the meter from a confidential source. The meter was used in a report about alleged corruption at the utility.

The police action and a Superior Court judge’s decision to issue the warrant was rebuked last week by the New Jersey chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, which said that search warrants against news organizations “can have chilling effects on journalists” and “circumvent the New Jersey Shield Law and the Privacy Protection Act of 1980,” which should provide news organizations with an opportunity for a hearing before being required to hand over material.

Kratovil said that he had made an appointment with a police captain to discuss the meter. The police, however, demanded the meter before the scheduled meeting. Kratovil said he wanted to speak with an attorney first.

“I didn’t promise I bring it, but I didn’t refuse,” he said Thursday.

The city responded by saying that “a private citizen’s investigation does not outweigh an investigation by law enforcement, especially when potential evidence related to serious criminal charges may be at stake.”

Kratovil has not been charged with a crime and it is not clear if he will be.

Earlier this year, the utility’s former licensed operator was sentenced to three years in prison after pleading guilty to falsifying water purity testing information.

Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-438-1015 or email sergio.bichao@townsquaremedia.com.

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