SOUTH RIVER — A water emergency declaration could be lifted soon as the borough makes significant progress toward solving the water discoloration issue it experienced in July.

Borough Administrator Art Londensky said a "perfect storm" of conditions on July 13 turned the water brown for residents. Regular maintenance, plus the use of fire hydrants by a demolition crew to control dust and repair to a broken valve stirred sediment in the pipes that was 100 year old.

The water treatment plant was taken offline so technology that would help monitor the pipes was installed.

"The system has settled down now and we are making improvements to the water treatment plant so if it happens again we have better control of it," Londensky said.

The emergency declaration was made to put water restrictions into effect — putting outdoor watering on an even/odd rotation as the water treatment plant is taken offline for repairs, according to Londensky. The goal is to control the amount of water the borough would have to buy from neighboring East Brunswick.

Londensky said the borough may lift the restrictions at the end of the day on Friday.

The water was always safe to drink and was tested every two hours by the DEP, according to Londensky. The borough is now up to four hours between testing. He said complaint calls to Borough Hall and the DEP have nearly gone away.

"We never got a boil water emergency from the DEP, a 'don't drink he water' letter. All we got was a water quality dirty water and recommended running a faucet and cleaning your filters," Londensky said.

The South River Water Company was in the news in June when operator Robert Baker was arrested and charged with submitting false water samples and records to a lab for testing.

The samples were supposed to be tested for the presence of coliform bacteria, which is an indicator of possible fecal contamination.

Londensky said Baker's job performance is a separate issue from the problems that turned the water brown.

"He has no violations from the DEP in the nine years he had worked" for the borough prior to his arrest," Lodensky said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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