Dec. 31, 2016 signals the end of an era for South Orange, NJ.
East Orange Water Commission will not longer supply water to the town or manage the operation of its water utility. New Jersey American Water will now be taking over as supplier, with a subsidiary providing management and operation.
It’s the end of years of wrangling, putting out bids, testing the system, improving infrastructure and getting the town ready for the change, after Village leaders found that EOWC was supplying water with unacceptable levels of a contaminant and an EOWC official was ultimately found guilty of falsifying reports. The team that spearheaded the transition included Trustees Walter Clarke and Howard Levison, Village Administrator Barry Lewis, Deputy Village Administrator Adam Loehner, Village Counsel Steve Rother and American Water.
What can townspeople expect at the stroke of midnight?
“The Village and American Water have sent a letter to all residences in South Orange that should arrive in mailboxes by the end of this week or early next,” Trustee Walter Clarke told Village Green. “Primary communication is about the billing change (see below). In terms of the water itself, really attentive users may notice that the water is slightly softer, but other than that, the changeover should feel seamless in terms of water flow and pressure.”
“What residents may notice is the amount of repair work being done around town,” said Clarke. “The overall system has not been receiving the necessary level of maintenance and so the Village and New Jersey American Water are now aggressively repairing leaks, valves, and hydrants throughout town in order to correct that.”
Clarke also said that the South Orange Village website will be updated for the new year. Current and future updates can be found at: www.southorange.org/572/Water
Key points from the letter mailed to residents concerning the change:
- The rates for water will not change.
- Year End Billing – East Orange Water Commission will issue a final close-out bill early in the new year for water consumed through the end of 2016. Questions concerning this final bill should be directed to East Orange Water Commission at 973-266-8869.
- New Quarterly Bills – American Water will mail water bills to most customers on a quarterly basis. To maintain the same regular billing cycle as you are accustomed to, your first quarterly bill may not reflect usage for a full three months.
- Paperless Billing and Recurring Payment Services – Any paperless billing, recurring credit card payments, or other electronic bank payments that you had previously set up with East Orange Water Commission will not carry over. As of January 1st you will have to re-establish these services with American Water.
Beginning on January 1, 2017, customers should direct all water related inquiries to American Water’s customer service center’s toll-free number at 1-855-722-7072, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.