When Carol Kirkman gets into the shower, she keeps three plastic bottles with township-issued water on the side of the tub so she can wash her hair. She has to use the bottled water to cook her food and drink with, too.
“It feels disgusting getting out of the shower and smelling like heavy metals,” Kirkman said. She has a white toilet brush now stained brown, as well as her bathtub, which now has some of the enamel eaten away around the drain.
She is not the only one affected by the ongoing water situation. Some of the homes on Willow Way are still experiencing brownish-red water coming from their taps with a heavy metallic smell. Residents have told the township that their water is undrinkable and has been for the past few months.
The borough has started giving affected residents allotments of water, three gallons a day. On Fridays, residents may pick up nine gallons for the weekend.
But a member of the Ford family, also residents of Willow Way, said that might not be enough.
“Because of a medical condition, we are not taking any chances boiling the [township] water, we want to be safe,” she said. “Because of the extreme heat we have had the past few days, some people might be going through all their issued water and will have to go buy more.”
In May, Manasquan started running a new water treatment plant. According to Willow Way residents, that’s when the discoloration and odorous water began, although officials have said the problem lies in the pipes and not the plant itself.
After attending a few municipal meetings, residents brought samples of the water and damage the water was doing with them to a meeting.
Carl Straub, another resident of Willow Way, felt that until the samples were brought in, the township did not believe their claims.
“We had to bring in samples of the discolored water with a bad odor. That’s when they finally admitted it was bad,” Straub said.
According to a notice sent out to residents on June 29, by borough Administrator Joe Delorio, the borough is taking steps to better the water quality:
- The borough will continue to “bleed” the hydrants in the area as a short-term measure to improve water circulations recommended by a corrosion expert and check for closed valves.
- Fire hydrant water sampling continues on a daily basis. The borough also is sampling the water in residential homes to test pH, chlorine residuals and iron. The borough also will be testing for manganese. The borough's intent is to continue testing the water on Tuesdays and Fridays for the foreseeable future.
- The reconfiguration of the lime feed has been completed, and the borough is monitoring the consistency of the pH, chlorine and iron levels of the water leaving the treatment facility.
- Once water levels are consistent, the borough may recommend homeowners flush their own water systems. At this time, effectiveness of home flushing is unpredictable.
- When higher levels of iron (greater than 0.3 milligrams per liter) in the water distribution system enter homes, residents may experience a rusty color or sediment, a metallic taste and/or reddish or orange staining. Some products to aid in its removal include “Iron-out,” “RoVer” or “Lime Away” for toilets and bathroom tubs and fixtures, “Rit Rust Remover” or sodium metabisulfite for laundry (do not use sodium metabisulfite with bleach). Use them carefully according to the manufacturers' directions, and rinse the clothes thoroughly. Additionally, a paste of salt (common table salt) and lemon juice applied to rust stains and left to react for a few hours before re-laundering also may remove stains.
- In addition to the borough's consolation with a corrosion expert, it has consulted with the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection Division of Water Compliance and Enforcement and the NJDEP Bureau of Water Quality Standards and Assessment.
Some residents said that the water quality has improved over the past two weeks. According to one resident who wished to remain anonymous, the water is still murky but seems to be getting better with each passing day. Another nearby resident was vacationing in Manasquan and was unaware of the water situation.
Quinn Batcho, another resident of Willow Way, said that the water in her home seems to be getting better.
“The small and color is gone, but I’m still afraid to wash my whites in it,” Batcho said. “It ruined a load of towels and shirts on me once so I’m not taking any chances.”
Borough officials declined to comment this week on the progress of testing.
Most of the residents all share the same concern: When will their water be clean and safe to consume?
“I truly believe they are working to rectify the situation,” Kirkman said. “They have come out to test our water every few days, but we still haven’t received any results from those tests.”