You might not notice when you fill a glass. But fill a bathtub or a pool, and the water for many communities on the barrier island is green.
A Chadwick Island resident urged the township council to act last night on New Jersey American Water's phenomenon of green tinted water flowing out of taps.
Lauderdale Avenue resident Ed LeFebvre said he disagrees with the water company's assessment that the problem is confined to a few homes on Chadwick Island.
"For a bunch of us full time residents including myself it’s a big question: what’s happening...what's being down to solve this, anything?," LeFebvre asked.
Township Planner Jay Lynch said he's agreed with LeFebvre, and so does the state Department of Environmental Planning. The DEP issued an order requiring the water company to address the high amount of iron.
LeFebvre said the issue does not affect Ortley Beach section of Toms River but begins around the north end of Lavallette and continues through Dover Beaches North.
The iron is the cause of the water's tint, and it's coming from the pipes, said Peter A. Eschbach, the Director of Communications and External Affairs at New Jersey American Water, after concerns arose in mid May.
"The iron is naturally occurring, and does not represent a health risk," said Eschbach in May.
"We've been assured by the county department of health that the water is safe to drink," Township Administrator Paul Shives said.
Though the issue appears to be aesthetic, Shives urged residents to write the Board of Public Utilities with formal complaints about the utility. "The BPU will take it seriously. They are required to respond to every complaint," Shives said.
The township council also agreed to write a resolution urging action on the green water issue. The council passed the resolution after executive session last night, after hearing resident's concerns.
Though two barrier island residents spoke during the meeting, more than a dozen more showed up after the meeting had ended, hoping to air their concerns.
Barrier Island resident John Gallo said when levels are four times what's allowed, he's not convinced it is safe.
"I have grandchildren that come to the beach to see their pop pop, I won’t let them drink the water," Gallo said.
Lynch said the water company had an application before the Toms River zoning board of adjustment, seeking to build a water treatment plant on Monterey Beach, where it owned property.
The plant could have been a way to remove iron, but according to Lynch the zoning board turned it down after two years of discussion.
"They presented a building that wasn't to scale for the neighborhood," Lynch said. A number of Monterey Beach residents came out to voice their concern.
"Clearly water service is an inherently beneficial use, but they still have to meet the negative issues," Lynch said. The plan did not address the issues of scaling the building to the town's building codes, and was voted down.
Lynch said he understands the water company might be in an appeal of the decision and could be seeking other land to build the treatment plant.
Councilman George Wittmann asked if there was a better way than building a plant, such as new pipes or cleaning and lining the pipes with cement.
"There’s other techniques...Did they consider cement-lining them?" Wittmann said.
He pushed for a council resolution to the BPU and for urging the water company to outline all it's done to remedy the problem. Other council members urged the township engineer to report back on the contents of the DEP order, and Township Engineer Robert Chankalian agreed.
"One of the things we can do is send a resolution to the BPU to urge them to intervene. I’m committing we’ll do something along those lines," Wittmann said. "What other options have they explored?"
"The area's water, which is taken from a local well, has always had iron in it, but once iron approaches 1 part per million (ppm), it becomes visible as a greenish tinge," Eschbach said.
The council's resolution urges "to take all necessary steps and take immediate action to correct water discoloration problem in the north and east sections of the barrier island," said Township Attorney Kenneth Fitzsimmons.
The resolution passed unanimously.