Byram's Water Problem

| 28 Sep 2011 | 02:49

    BYRAM-State and local health officials are investigating the source of a fuel additive that has contaminated private wells in the East Brookwood section of Byram. Township manager Gregg Poff said unhealthy levels of trichloroethylene were detected in the tap water of at least five and as many as 10 homes in the area of Brookwood and Ross roads last week. County, state, and township health officials met with concerned residents Wednesday night to field questions about the colorless liquid used as a solvent for cleaning parts and provide technical assistance for its removal. According to the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, drinking high levels of trichloroethylene may cause nervous system effects, liver and lung damage, abnormal heartbeat, coma and possibly death. Herbert Yardley, Sussex County director of health, said residents whose wells have been detected with 1-part per billion levels of trichloroethylene should not drink the water. "Periodically, throughout the state, this does happen, but I can't recall it happening in recent years in Sussex County," said Yardley. "Generally, the water in Sussex County is safe. The residents of Byram should feel that their water is safe." Some residents using public well water near the contaminated sites are not so sure. Desiree Danziger, a resident of nearby Woods Edge Road, said concerns expressed to the East Brookwood Estates Property Owners Association, have not been properly addressed. "We're asking if our water is safe," said Danziger. "It's not that we don't trust the association, but the stuff in the water is dangerous. The question is when was the test last done? If it was done six months ago, it should be done again." According to Danziger, the water company provides test results only once each year. The property owners association manages water for up to 300 residents in the ½-square mile section of Byram, making it the second largest water company in the township. Rich Stopa, the Brookwood association treasurer, said the wells are tested periodically in compliance with the state regulations. Still, Danziger and some neighbors are not willing to take the chance. "A lot of people don't drink the water," said Danziger. "Our water has always tested clear, but people just don't feel comfortable drinking the tap water." Danziger said she already uses a charcoal filtration system and bottled water to offset what she believes is poor water in Brookwood. She said she pays $58 a month in water bills to help pay off a $1.2 million loan from the state to the property owners association to upgrade tanks and pipes. Still, all she wants is a test. "It's been a problem with the association; they can't give us an answer," said Danziger. "We don't know if the water is safe. It may very well be. We just want to know."