Whether or not you've been experiencing problems with calcium build up on glasses or skin rashes caused by hard water depends on where you live in Warren—sometimes even which side of the street you live on, according to New Jersey American Water Company representatives meeting with residents and township officials Thursday.
For example, the company provides water to the neighborhoods and buildings south of Mountain Avenue, such as the municipal complex, by lines from the west, drawing on water from the Round Lake Reservoir, which recently tested with levels of calcium and magnesium—the primary chemicals causing "hard water"—around 150 mg per liter of water.
For the residential neighborhoods across Mountain Boulevard, however, water is pumped from a station in Watchung, drawing on water from wells near the Green Brook—which has much higher levels of calcium and magnesium.
The company representatives reiterated their earlier statements regarding the chemicals—that there's not a standard for levels in the water, and that there's no danger from them.
"Yes, this water supply is higher but I want to point out that that has nothing to do with safety," Vince Monaco, manager of asset planning, said. He added that the Department of Environmental Protection classifies hardness as a "secondary contaminant," meaning treatment is not required, and testing is only required every three years.
But Mayor Carolann Garafola asked why the quality of the water fluctuates thoughout the year, noting sometimes "it's terrible."
"My cats won't drink it," she said. "They would rather go outside and drink dirty water from flower pots."
Monaco wouldn't speculate on the cats' preference, but he did theorize that increased levels of chlorine could make the water smell less appealing to cats.
Kevin Watsey, the company's government affairs manager, noted the level of phosphates in most dishwashing detergents has been reduced in the last five years, in compliance with federal standards. Phosphates keep calcium from attaching to other materials, such as glass or metals, and reduced phosphates means more spots and stains from the chemical.
The company representatives also noted only water softeners can remove the calcium and magnesium, but added tests done by the company have shown residents' water softeners frequently are not working properly (residents can find out about having a test of their water softener's effectiveness by contacting the company at 1-866-430-0819 or by emailing email@example.com).
Mayor Garafola asked the representatives to prepare some information the township can include in an upcoming newsletter. The main points include:
- The best types of water softeners for removing calcium and magnesium;
- A recommendation to only use water softeners on hot water lines (the softeners work by chemically substituting sodium for the calcium and magnesium, making it potentially unhealthy in drinking water supplies);
- The company's frequency of tests of water supplies for Warren.