With 2018 being one of New Jersey’s wettest years on record, local officials have had to resort to fire hydrant flushing to ensure water quality.
On Tuesday, Dec. 4, 2018 the Highland Park Borough Council heard a presentation from representatives of the Middlesex Water Company, the Borough’s contracted water provider, which explained why there has been an abundance of hydrant flushing.
“This has been a rainier year, which is why you’re seeing more flushing,” said Robert Fullagar, director of distribution for Middlesex Water, who added that a typical flushing occurs following an inch of rain.
Mr. Fullager said the high volume of rain resulted in more organic material flowing into the Delaware & Raritan Canal, which is the Borough’s water supply. The water is then treated with chlorine to remove bacteria and other viruses at Middlesex Water’s treatment plant in Edison.
But with higher volumes of rain and more organic material, water is more difficult to treat and requires higher levels of chlorine. Fullger said. Chlorine is a common disinfectant in water treatment plants and ensures that bacteria does not thrive in the water distribution piping network.
According to Dave Brogle, director of water quality at Middlesex Water, chlorine naturally degrades the longer it sits in water, hydrants are routinely flushed to keep water moving and to maintain proper levels of chlorination.
The more rain and debris, Mr. Fullager said, the more flushing. Mr. Brogle noted that Middlesex Water has a planned ozone treatment facility for primary disinfection, but that won’t be completed until 2021.
In the meantime, expect a rainy season and more hydrant flushing. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, Middlesex County is on track to have the fifth-wettest year on record, with 2011 coming in first with 64 inches of rainfall.