Officials say water may look, smell differently, but is still safe to drink while the Cedar Grove Reservoir is drained.
The process of draining the reservoir, which is located along Ridge Road, is expected to take three to four months. During that time, water customers in towns supplied by the reservoir may notice some discoloration or changes to the taste of the water, but officials say the water is safe to drink.
The City of Newark owns the reservoir and the city’s Department of Water and Sewer Utilities for the City of Newark along with Mayor Cory A. Booker, explained that the discoloration occurs when valves are opened and closed during the drainage process. The Great Notch reservoir, owned by the Passaic Valley Water Commission and located in Woodland Park, will supply additional water to customers, so there is no interruption in the supply or quality of water while the repair work is being done.
“We are working to upgrade and modernize our water system and to provide residents with the highest quality water supply in the nation,” said Booker. “This repair work will require us to drain and inspect the Cedar Grove Reservoir, which may cause temporary discoloration or a change in the water’s taste. But the water provided will be safe to use.”
City officials say there is a leak in the outlet tunnel and corrosion damage to the 60-inch water main. The main also needs a new valve.
The reservoir provides water for Newark, Belleville, Bloomfield, and some areas of East Orange. Every decade or so, the reservoir is drained and cleaned of debris. Its pipes are inspected, and then it is re-filled. The project is expected to finish on April 30 of next year, according to Township Manager Thomas Tucci, who said the project will not create any issues to residents.
The city has not drained the reservoir since 1990 to perform repairs. Water samples are taken daily from the reservoir and tested to make sure the water quality complies with safe water drinking standards. Discoloration does not make the water unsafe, officials say, but could cause discoloration while washing clothes.
“There may be some slight color changes during the switchover,” said Andrew Pappachen, Director of Operations for the Newark Watershed Conservation and Development Corp. “However, we will ensure the potability by maintaining sufficient chlorine residual in the water. We will be monitoring the water quality more often.”