Well Water Testing Available to Chester Area Residents

This spring, Chester Township and Chester Borough will team up with Raritan Headwaters to offer well testing at an affordable cost. Residents can purchase water sample collection kits on Saturday, April 7th from 9:00 a.m. to noon at The Barn at Highlands Ridge Park at 100 North Road. Water samples must then be dropped off on Monday, April 9th from 6:30-10:00 a.m. at The Barn. Test results will be available two weeks later.

Unlike public drinking water systems, private wells are not required by law to be regularly checked for contamination before the water is sent to the tap.

Raritan Headwaters is a nonprofit watershed conservation organization working to protect and preserve the public’s access to safe, clean water that is swimmable, fishable and most importantly, drinkable. Eighty percent of the residents of this region – about 320,000 people – obtain their drinking water through wells.

Well water pollutants found in the region include coliform bacteria, nitrate, arsenic, iron, radon and volatile organic compounds. Sources of contamination include failing septic systems, chemical fertilizers, herbicides, pesticides and naturally-occurring contaminants like arsenic. Water may also become contaminated with lead and copper as it travels through older pipes in the home.

Raritan Headwaters offers a “basic kit” for coliform bacteria and nitrate for $60. Residents may also test for other potential contaminants at an additional cost.

Staff members at RHA are available to advise citizens who are uncertain about which tests to order and to review individual results after testing is complete. More information on the tests we offer can be found at www.testmywell.org. Testing is performed by a private state certified laboratory and results are confidential.

The Community Well Testing program was established in 1974, allowing RHA to monitor the health of our region’s groundwater supply for over four decades. Raritan Headwaters recently completed a 30-year trend analysis of well water tests result in the region, which showed an increase in arsenic levels in several towns as well as slight increases in coliform bacteria and nitrate concentrations.

“Your private well is an important investment that is best protected by regular check-ups to ensure a reliable and safe source of drinking water for you and your family,” said Mara Tippett, well test manager for RHA.

Residents who aren’t able to take advantage of the Chester’s Community Well Test event can contact Tippett to arrange to pick up a test kit at RHA’s Bedminster or Flemington office. She can be contacted at 908-234-1852, ext. 401 or welltesting@raritanheadwaters.org.

For more information about Raritan Headwaters and its programs and preserves, go to www.raritanheadwaters.org.

Free Dogwood Trees available 4/14

The Chester Township Environmental and Open Space Commission and The Chester Borough Shade Tree Commission are giving away Free Dogwood Trees!

Pick up a lovely flowering dogwood seedling on April 14, 2018 from 9:30 am until Noon at the Gazebo on Main Street.

Honor Earth Day and Arbor Day by Planting a Tree

Also, there will be information on Emerald Ash Borer, an insect attacking our Ash trees!

Don’t know if you have Ash trees?  Come and see our display to help you identify Ash trees.

BPU Schedules Hearings on Storm Response

The New Jersey State Board of Public Utilities has scheduled the first two of five public hearings as part of BPU staff’s investigation into the response of the state’s four electric companies to the most recent storms.

The first hearing will be held on Thursday, April 5 from 4-7 p.m. at the Byram Intermediate School located at12 Mansfield Drive, in Byram Township, Sussex County. The second hearing will take place on Thursday April 12 from 4-7 p.m. at Parsippany Town Hall 1001 Parsippany Blvd., Parsippany, Morris County.

We do not yet know the dates and locations of additional meetings.

Click here to read the press release.

A Letter from Mayor Janet Hoven

Mayor Hoven addresses the community on issues such as the recent storms, brush collection, solid waste collection, budget, spring and summer happenings, and openings on commissions. Please take a few minutes to read about the storm recovery and other topics. Click here to access the newsletter. (Must open up this post to access link.)

Storm Recovery Update – March 10

From JCP&L:

Crews have been dispatched to Pleasant Hill / Hillside and are at Mile Drive. A crew has been dispatched to fix a broken crossarm that is affecting power around Rt. 24 in Chester headed towards Long Valley.

From Police Chief Williver:

Looks like a lot of progress was made last night with restoration.  Power crews were working all night on Ironia Road near number 8.  Power crews are expected back on Hillside Road this morning to complete repairs.  I asked JCP&L for some lead time if they have to shut down the circuit for Hillside Road so that we can warn our communities of another temporary outage.  I also asked him to send a crew to Spring Lake Drive at Rt. 206 to open the roadway (this damage is from Winter Storm Quinn). Phone and cable lines are across the road at Spring Lake/206 (not live wires).

The overnight patrols also went throughout town and updated our “Century Link List” for trees and communications cables which still may be down or have trees laying on them.  This list has been forwarded to our contact at Century Link.  They have advised that they will come out and address the issues.

JCP&L update 3/9

 

Storm Recovery Update – March 8th

Office of Emergency Management surveying need for shelter
Please take a 2-question survey to help the Office of Emergency Management ascertain the number of Chester residents interested in relocating to a storm shelter. Click here to take this very short survey.
Chester Police report
JCP&L work crews are at:
  • Cherry Tree Lane
  • Pottersville Road
  • Lamerson Road
  • E. Fox Chase
The following roadways are closed due to wires and/or trees down:
  • Pleasant Hill Rd. near Flanders
  • Hillside Rd. at Pleasant Hill Rd.
JCP&L will be energizing Ironia Road and Pottersville Road near the Kay Center very soon.
Mayors’ report on phone call with JCP&L
The Mayors’ call with JCP&L today was one of collective frustration with the utility and its lack of communication with their customers that is accurate, timely and reasonable.  The Mayors of Morris, Hunterdon, Warren and Sussex counties have the largest number of unrestored residents. Mayors gave anecdotal accounts received from their residents of the failure of the company to have a good handle on what has actually been repaired, or still needs to be repaired even if the company thinks it has been repaired. Recounting of conversations between out-of-town utility workers and residents on progress, or lack thereof, in terms of restorations were also shared.
Suffice it to say that the general consensus is that customers have little to no faith in any communication from JCP&L.  Suggestions were given about providing realistic restoration times.  While it might not make anyone who is without power feel better, please know that every town and mayor is experiencing the same frustrations.
Both Mayors, with Police Chief Williver,  have been in contact with JCP&L officials to attempt to get a commitment on specific roads being restored. Unfortunately, we don’t know if a crew is addressing local outages until a police officer notifies the Chief. Then we can pass that information on to residents.
Today’s JCP&L report
“Yesterday’s new storm hit JCP&L’s service area very hard, with some places getting 25 inches of new, wet snow. Roads and access across the state remain a challenge, but crews are working as quickly and safely as they can, with our priority to attend to outages remaining from last week’s storm first.
A brief synopsis of our current priorities:
New safety hazards, including downed wires and other damage that could endanger the public or impede first responders, existing outages from Winter Storm Riley (Northern New Jersey), clearing blocked roads to get access to new areas with heavy damage, and restoring the balance of our customers who were recently impacted.
We have well over 4,000 people working the storm, and we hope to have restoration estimates for all customers affected by early this afternoon.
Because yesterday’s snowstorm impacted a wider range of towns than last Friday’s storm, several hundred PSE&G crews that were helping in the northwestern counties have been pulled back to their customer base further base, but existing work assignments for the JCP&L work crews are staying consistent as they were before the snowfall.  There may be circumstances that require them to respond to a life and safety emergency, but other than that the customers still without power from winter storm Riley are the top priority.”
Warming Centers Open:
Town Hall, Borough Hall, during normal business hours
Chester Library, during normal hours (note: closed on 3/8)
First Congregational Church
Community Presbyterian Church
St. Lawrence the Martyr Catholic Church
Feel free to drop in should you need some warmth or to charge electronics.
We regret being unable to respond to as many social media posts and comments as we can. We are relying on our Communications Coordinator to monitor and forward us comments that reflect what people are experiencing in our community. Thanks to all the residents who have taken the time to contact us and offer suggestions on how we can both improve our response to emergent situations and be as proactive as we can in making sure our towns are not vulnerable to the effects of these kind of storms.
Mayor Janet Hoven, Chester Borough
Mayor Marcia Asdal, Chester Township

JCP&L Storm Update – Morning of March 8, 2018 

“Yesterday’s new storm hit JCP&L’s service area very hard, with some places getting 25 inches of new, wet snow. Roads and access across the state remain a challenge, but crews are working as quickly and safely as they can, with our priority to attend to outages remaining from last week’s storm first.
A brief synopsis of our current priorities:
New safety hazards, including downed wires and other damage that could endanger the public or impede first responders, existing outages from Winter Storm Riley (Northern New Jersey), clearing blocked roads to get access to new areas with heavy damage, and restoring the balance of our customers who were recently impacted.
We have well over 4,000 people working the storm, and we hope to have restoration estimates for all customers affected by early this afternoon.”

Storm Update, March 7th

5:00pm

Heaviest snow this afternoon
From Chester Police: Please stay off roads until further notice. Conditions rapidly deteriorating. Shelter in place.
JCP&L late afternoon report: “For the safety of our workers, we have ceased work until the weather is more favorable except for life and limb emergencies.
We are getting more outages from today’s snow storm. Again, we will work to restore customers from the first storm before today’s except where safety dictates.
Our current outage counts do not necessarily reflect the work done today and also reflect ongoing current outages.
JCP&L has restored power to more than 242,000 of the nearly 272,000 customers in New Jersey affected by the recent storm that inflicted widespread damage on its facilities. More than 4,100 employees and contractors – including about 1,500 line workers – are now involved in the massive effort and will continue working until full restoration is achieved. An additional 200 line workers are arriving in New Jersey today from Virginia. Approximately 29,000 customers remain out of service, primarily in Hunterdon, Morris, Warren and Sussex counties.
As part of its storm restoration process, JCP&L has taken the following steps:
• Ramped up storm updates on social media and on the company website. Follow JCP&L on Twitter @JCP_L, on Facebook at www.facebook.com/JCPandL or online at www.jcp-l.com
• Aired radio ads telling customers how to prepare for storms
• Initiated update calls with officials
• Activated its Emergency Command Center
• Activated its Incident Command System
• Communicated with emergency management officials, state officials, regulators, and local officials about storm restoration efforts
• Staffed additional dispatchers and analysts at regional dispatch officesAfter local power lines are repaired and put back in service, damage to individual
customer service wires may become apparent. Customers are reminded that if their neighbor’s power is on and theirs is not, the problem may be isolated to their individual service, and service to the neighbor could be fed from a different circuit. Customers are encouraged to report such problems, even at this latter stage in the restoration process.
JCP&L reminds customers to immediately report downed wires to their utility at 888-LIGHTSS (888-544-4877)”
Trash pickup:
Blue Diamond Disposal will pick up garbage tomorrow (Thursday 3/8) in Chester Township.  Recycling collection has not yet been modified; assume Friday pickup until we hear otherwise.
Chester Borough Recycling collection has been rescheduled for Thursday, March 8th.  Recycling cans must be curbside by 7 am.

From today’s Mayors’ Call with JCP&L:

  • JCP&L repeatedly assured us that the customers who have been without power the longest are their top priority, even through today’s snowstorm.
  • Despite JCP&L’s automated system constantly giving bad info, residents without power should continue to call every day to report the outage.
  • Providing accurate estimates of when power will come back on is fluid and is often altered based on differences between what was expected when the initial damage assessment was done and the extent of the damage that is actually discovered once the work crews arrive.  They have discovered more broken poles and more complex damage once they arrive on the scene than what was initially reported in the early hours and days after the storm hit.
  • JCP&L has been using helicopters to help assess damage, but in areas with heavy tree canopies, like Chester Township,  they’ve been using drones. Drones have been reported on Cromwell Avenue off Pleasant Hill Road. The drones are not being used to verify outages. They are not being operated from miles away but are being used within the line of sight of the operators.
During these daily conference calls with JCP&L, NJ mayors do not receive updates on individual towns or streets, even when we ask for such information. The mayors are as frustrated as the residents as to the lack of information.
Our Police Chief is working tirelessly in the name of public safety to get the roads open and power restored. The Mayors and Police Chief are in constant contact. Even though the information we put out may not be what you are looking for, it’s all we have.
We wish to thank everyone for the feedback you’ve been sending our way. We’ll be working with JCP&L and other elected county and state officials, as well as our own Borough and Township staff  to determine how we could improve procedures and information in the event of another serious weather event.
We thank you for your patience and kindness both to each other and to the workers who are on the ground.
Mayor Marcia Asdal, Chester Township
Mayor Janet Hoven, Chester Borough