If you see something, say something

“If you see something, say something” is the slogan of a government campaign, originally deployed by the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, to encourage citizens to report potential terrorist activity to the authorities before something catastrophic happens. 

The “major infrastructure failure” at New Jersey American Water Company’s Swimming River water treatment plant last week that resulted in no water for thousands of Monmouth County residents, a boiling water advisory for hundreds thousand of residents, and that will likely result in dead gardens, empty pools and dirty cars for the rest of the summer is an unfortunate lesson that we need to “say something” when our public utility companies are apparently putting our health at risk.

NJAWC  admitted to the Asbury Park Press that the 40 year old water mains that broke on Friday have been a problem since Tropical Strom Irene last August.   It wasn’t long before the news of the water main breaks hit on Friday that commenters on this site and others said they saw this coming since Irene.

Freeholder Director John Curley told app, “Anybody that ever rode past that walkway could tell you that it looked like it was going to fall down. I’m surprised it didn’t collapse sooner.”

Tinton Falls Mayor Michael Skudera told app that the bridge holding the water mains appeared to be damaged following Irene but that he took NJAWC’s assurances that its integrity was not compromised.

NJAWC’s spokesperson told the app that the company was preparing to repair the bridge and reinforce the pipe before they failed.

We’re very fortunate that the bridge and the pipes didn’t fail during Irene.  That would have added mightily to the suffering many lived through last August and September.  We’ve become accustomed to excellent service from our water utility.  Due to that excellent service, we gave them the benefit of the doubt as we drove past the damaged bridge.

NJAWC’s response to this failure has been excellent.  For that we should be grateful.

Hindsight is 20-20 and NJAWC’s luck ran out before this failure occurred.  One of the lessons we should all learn is to say something when a potential problem that is apparently so obvious as this one is not being handled appropriately.



Posted: July 3rd, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Monmouth County, New Jersey American Water, NJAWC | Tags: , , , , , , , | 9 Comments »

9 Comments on “If you see something, say something”

  1. James Hogan said at 11:19 am on July 3rd, 2012:

    I cried and complained about those NJDOT electronic billboards along 36 that have read “NJDOT Installation Testing” for 6+ months, that continued to read that same message through Bamboozeled weekend despite *3* portable electronic signs within a half-mile of it…. for my crying and complaining, all I get is an extra sticker for being a crier and complainer…..

    Anyhow, seems that NJDOT at least turned the power off the big signs last Weds/Thursday to at least save some fossil fuel…. but oddly enough, there is now a portable electronic sign less than 1/4 mile past it advising Broadway in Long Branch will be closed July 4… There was no message on the sign advising of water issues or to make the next left to get to the water distribution location.

    Huge thanks for Caroline Casagrande’s office for checking into my complaint and trying to get something done. Her office was able to get a response from NJDOT in which they claim that the signs are still in the hands of the engineers and they are not in control of them, yet…. which only seemed dubious because the reverse side of the same sign had a pertinent message regarding the new traffic pattern at Rt35/Rt36 intersection.

    Just seems with the size of government and every department having their own little chain of command and their own little fiefdoms. Sounds like enough people cried and complained about this bridge in the past, but who can you cry to and who can make something happen? Seems impossible to determine.

    PS — who can I contact to suggest a traffic study/change be done so that the left turn from Rt 36 East to Wycoff Rd should be closed now that the intersection at Rt 35 has a jug handle to 35 North? Because of the left turn lane, the jughandle from 36 to 35 doesn’t seem to be used — the shorter green light heading 36 west then causes traffic to backup from Wyckoff to 36 creating gridlock as drivers block the intersection…. of course rather than try to direct traffic and ease the traffic jam, Eatontown police just hit the flashy lights, write traffic tickets and add rubber-necking to the mix…. but I’m just crying and complaining… again, mind me.

  2. Pilgrim said at 12:42 pm on July 3rd, 2012:

    Isn’t NJAWC a profit making enterprise that has shareholders who seem to come first before stakeholders?

    The boil water precaution was lifted about 7:30 PM on July 1. It took Middletown 18 hours to get a robo call out to the people of the township telling them that the boil water precaution had been lifted.

  3. Astraea said at 3:01 pm on July 3rd, 2012:

    Pilgrim – Don’t you think it would have been smart for all the towns in Monmouth County to have robo-called their residents about the situation .. including the restriction on outdoor water use? I drove past several homes after that, where the sprinklers were going, possibly because the people knew nothing about the problem! If they were trying to get around the restriction, they wouldn’t have their sprinklers going in the middle of the day, for everyone to see!

  4. Pilgrim said at 3:01 pm on July 3rd, 2012:

    James Hogan,

    At the state level their was an office for consumer advocacy, which was part of the executive office — I believe. It was a position/function that Christie eliminated.

    It would be helpful if their was a function like that at the county level.

  5. John Wayne said at 3:43 pm on July 3rd, 2012:

    Hey Pilgrim,

    How did you expect the town to do a robo call starting at 8pm without having the possibility of people getting called after midnite? Reverse 911 calls take hours to complete. I guess you wanted the town to make that mistake and now you can’t complain about that. Go back to MM loser.

  6. Bob English said at 5:07 pm on July 3rd, 2012:


    1) I agree that the intersection of 35s and 36w does need to be looked at. It was bad before the construction and is still bad now at times. Maybe better light synchronization, etc. would help.

    2) I think the left turn from 36e onto Wyckoff Rd. is better left as is. Many of those cars are going to Monmouth Park in the Summer or to the businesses on Wyckoff Rd. or into Michaels Shopping Plaza. I think it could hurt those businesses if cars were going to have to drive all the way up to 35n and turn left there and than back to the other end of Wyckoff and make another left turn. If they want to get into any of the businesses on the south side of Wyckoff or into the shopping plaza, that would be yet another left turn (which is hard to do when there is a lot of traffic.) I always thought that the more vehicles that could be kept out of the 35/36 intersection the better and the left onto Wyckoff does help a bit to accomplish that.

  7. SeeSomething said at 7:30 pm on July 3rd, 2012:

    Art, besides posting about the APP running their sprinklers despite the outdoor water usage ban, did you say anything about it, maybe to the Sheriff’s Dept, which is helping enforce the ban?

  8. Swimming River Road said at 9:20 pm on July 3rd, 2012:

    I saw this. The County still has not fixed the portion of the sidewalk on the otherside of the street that washed away in the same storm. How about that Curly. Maybe you should remove the log from your own eye first.

  9. Who Knew? said at 8:01 pm on July 4th, 2012:

    How many who passed the ramshackle mess on Swimming River after Irene were aware this was considered MAJOR infrastructure?
    I think most people assume major infrastructure would be repaired in a timely manner and not left to rot. If Mr. Curley knew this, surely pressure from someone so important as him would have made a difference.