SOUTH RIVER — Borough officials are reacting to public outcry over the discoloration of tap water, which began to come out of faucets this weekend looking reddish brown or dark brown.

News 12 New Jersey had a picture from a resident showing the water looking milky brown. Nick Bachar shared a picture with the Bridgewater Courier News showing various shades of brown.

Joe Butewicz told News 12 New Jersey that he had "solids" coming out of his faucet.

Mayor John Krenzel said an emergency meeting Monday brought professionals and town employees together to discuss the matter.

Krenzel the pipes get flushed twice a year in order to clear out sediment. Heavy use of water over the weekend may have shaken loose a high amount of sediment but the officials at the meeting could not identify a definite source.

One possibility was demolition work that may have required use of fire hydrants in order to spray down the structures in order to cut back on dust.

Another factor was a broken valve in the Center Street/Union Avenue area, which Krenzel said "shook up the system."

The mayor said the town will adjust where it draws water from to a point when there was less coloration.

"We have been pulling more water from our pumps (hence the problem in the Heritage Hills and Landing areas) than we have done in the past," Krenzel wrote on Facebook. We will take more water from East Brunswick and less from our wells. This will return the water system to what it was."

For the future, Krenzel said their consultant will look at the water utility and also look at possible iron buildup and the pumps. The mayor said iron is what gives the water its discoloration.

Frustrated residents are pushing for a solution with an online petition demanding "clarity" about the water and expressing concerns about what could be in the water.

"A change is needed and that change starts with your support in signing this petition to get the Mayor’s attention from the People of South River," the petition website says.

The South River Water Co. was in the news last month 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.

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