After years of failure to meet safe drinking water requirements — a group of elected officials have called for the state to take over operation of the water utility that serves five Mercer County communities.

Trenton Water Works supplies 29 million gallons of drinking water daily to more than 200,000 people, including residents of Trenton, Ewing, Hamilton, Hopewell, and Lawrence Township.

A lawsuit was filed by the state two years ago against the City of Trenton and the water utility — and just this week, the Department of Environmental Protection sent a letter about continued shortcomings in “maintenance and operational needs crucial to the protection of public health.”

While the letter said that state officials were "disturbed by the current City Council's continuing failures or refusals to authorize resolutions necessary to advance critical capital improvements,” no additional action was taken at this point — which some neighboring mayors want to change.

Trenton Water Works facility (TWW via Facebook)
Trenton Water Works facility (TWW via Facebook)

Problems with the water from Trenton Water Works

Before the state's lawsuit, the water utility had accumulated a years-long history of failed communication in the city of Trenton and neighboring communities — as well as occasional issues with contamination, discoloration, boil water advisories.

“Since 2012, the Department has identified at least 40 incidents — including 18 in the past five years, where TWW’s treatment plant was shut down — for reasons including brownouts, treatment failures and high turbidity in the Delaware River,” according to the Sept. 27 letter from the DEP’s Division of Water Enforcement.

The DEP has now been urged to take over direct supervision and operation of Trenton Water Works, in a joint release from Hopewell Township Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning, Hamilton Mayor Jeff Martin, Ewing Mayor Bert Steinmann and Lawrence Township Mayor John Ryan.

Senator Linda Greenstein and Assemblymen Wayne DeAngelo and Dan Benson — all Democrats from the 14th Legislative district — have also signed the letter, as have Mercer County Executive Brian Hughes and Mercer County Board of County Commissioners Chair Nina Melker.

Failures cited by the officials include unfilled positions that are critical to running the treatment plant and failure to cover the Pennington Avenue Reservoir. That project was denied funding by the Trenton City Council months after the state’s 2020 lawsuit was filed.

The reservoir was supposed to be decommissioned by this summer — which state regulators have voiced concern will not happen, according to this week's letter.

In 2020, TWW also kicked off a massive service line replacement program designed to make the water safer.

Nearly 30% of the utility's lead service lines have been replaced, according to its website — as TWW continues to draw up plans to remove all remaining LSLs by 2031, as required under state law.

With previous reporting by David Matthau

Erin Vogt is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach her at

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From the Pine Barrens to the Appalachian Trail to the hidden gems of New Jersey, you have plenty of options for a great hike. Hiking is such a great way to spend time outdoors and enjoy nature, plus it's a great workout.

Before you go out on the trails and explore some of our listeners' suggestions, I have some tips on hiking etiquette from the American Hiking Society.

If you are going downhill and run into an uphill hiker, step to the side and give the uphill hiker space. A hiker going uphill has the right of way unless they stop to catch their breath.

Always stay on the trail, you may see side paths, unless they are marked as an official trail, steer clear of them. By going off-trail you may cause damage to the ecosystems around the trail, the plants, and wildlife that live there.

You also do not want to disturb the wildlife you encounter, just keep your distance from the wildlife and continue hiking.

Bicyclists should yield to hikers and horses. Hikers should also yield to horses, but I’m not sure how many horses you will encounter on the trails in New Jersey.
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