By John Burton
MIDDLETOWN – After seven years of planning and construction, residents should see in early June completion of a new water main, that is expected to improve service for New Jersey American Water customers.
The company has been constructing a 10-mile water main that will allow it to move large amounts of water from a treatment plant at the Swimming River Reservoir to holding tanks located at Earle Naval Weapons Station, Colts Neck, according to Suzanne Chiavari, vice president of engineering for the water company.
The approximately $20 million project had been done in five stages with the final stage expected to be completed in the next couple of weeks, Chiavari said
“The new main will help stabilize the (water) pressure during the hot and dry seasons,” when demand is at its highest, she said.
A couple of years ago there was a period of nearly a month with high temperatures and little to no rain, that strained the company’s ability to put enough water into the tanks to meet customer needs, said Peter Eschbach, director of communications and external affairs for New Jersey American Water. The new main “puts us in better shape.”
The other benefit of the project is that it will provide better water pressure for fire companies that may come in competition with other customers during periods of high usage.
“When everybody is using the same water, when they’re sucking out the tank to water their lawns, it gets the fire companies a little nervous,” Eschbach said.
The main will be able to move 10 million to 20 million gallons of water daily, enough to keep the tank at near peak levels, company officials said.
The main is 36 inches in diameter for about 8 miles of it with the remaining 2 miles being 24 inches in diameter. The pipe is made out of ductile iron and lined with cement mortar. It is expected to last about 100 years, Chiavari said.
Typically, a main serving a residential neighborhood neighborhood is about 8 inches in diameter, she said.
“It certainly was a big project and it had a lot of impact on the local roads for a couple of years,” said Anthony Mercantante, the township administrator.
Much of the work centered around Middletown-Lincroft Road, a heavily used thoroughfare. “As you can image,” Chiavari acknowledged, “the coordination is very significant in terms of traffic, detours.
“It was a number of years and we tried to minimize the disruption,” she said. “But, when you’re working in the street, you can’t avoid it.”
“We had to go through the downside of detours, and road closures and things taking longer than you thought,” Mercantante said. “But at the end of the day it was a much needed project.”
Mercantante pointed to the upside for firefighters, who in years past sometimes would have to have water pumper fire trucks available in the area, because the water tank was either empty or near it.
“Ultimately, this should minimize that to a great degree,” he said.