A Toast, To Clean Drinking Water

EPA and local officials celebrated the completion of a water pipeline in New Jersey with a toast of clean drinking water
A Toast, To Clean Drinking Water

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Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency marked the completion of a waterline extension on Aug. 11 that will provide a safe source of drinking water to 73 homes and businesses threatened by contaminated groundwater from the Combe Fill South Landfill Superfund site in Chester and Washington townships in New Jersey.

As a result, those homes and local businesses will no longer need treatment systems. EPA Region 2 Superfund Director Walter Mugdan and Chester Township Mayor Bill Cogger marked the milestone with a toast of clean drinking water. 

“This waterline will permanently supply clean drinking water to homes and businesses that had previously gotten their water from groundwater threatened by the landfill contamination,” says Mugdan. “The completion of the waterline is the culmination of a partnership between the EPA, Chester and Washington townships, and the Washington Township Municipal Utilities Authority.” 

The Superfund program operates on the principle that polluters should pay for cleanups, not taxpayers. The EPA searches for parties legally responsible for the contamination of Superfund sites and holds those parties accountable for the costs of investigations and cleanups. In this instance, the EPA has recovered more than $50 million in past costs from responsible parties which was made available to fund ongoing work at the site, including construction of the $9 million waterline extension.

Starting in the early 1990s, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection began providing in-home water treatment systems to residents whose wells were potentially impacted by contamination coming from the landfill. The new waterline extension provides a permanent safe water supply to the neighborhood around the landfill. The waterline extension, which connects homes and businesses along Parker Road, School House Lane and a small portion of Route 24, will be operated and maintained by the Washington Township Municipal Utilities Authority. 

The 65-acre Combe Fill South Landfill is located in Morris County, New Jersey, and served as a municipal landfill from the 1940s until 1981. Soil and groundwater beneath the site were contaminated by volatile organic compounds from the landfill. Volatile organic compounds can have serious impacts on people’s health. In 1978, Combe Fill Corporation bought the landfill and operated the site in violation of New Jersey’s solid waste laws. Combe Fill Corporation went bankrupt in 1981 and the landfill was not properly closed. 

Approximately 170 people live within half a mile of the landfill, and most of them use private wells as their source of drinking water. The EPA added the site to the Superfund list of the most contaminated hazardous waste sites in 1983.

The original cleanup plan for the site included capping the landfill, installing a landfill gas collection system, pumping and treating the shallow groundwater beneath the site, and installing stormwater runoff controls. All of these cleanup measures were successfully completed, and the system to treat shallow groundwater continues to operate at the site. A study of the landfill’s impact on a deeper layer of groundwater is ongoing.


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