September 03, 2019

Bollwage Administration Misleads City Council Members, Public, About Water from Newark.

City Council Member tells constituent that water from Newark has been “shut-off,” NJDEP has no record.

Elizabeth, NJ — Tuesday, September 03, 2019  Sources inside Elizabeth City Hall, who spoke with representatives of NJPD-UC off the record, stated that John Papetti, the Director of Public Works, has been informing Council Members that all of the water from Newark has been shut off. A representative of the Elizabeth Department of Public Works when asked on the phone if the water had been shut off between Newark and Elizabeth stated “from what I understand we are not directly with the Newark, we’re with another, were not connected to the Newark lines.”

There are, in fact, three interconnections between the Newark system and the Elizabeth water system as evidenced by documents provided under an OPRA request from the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).

According to Samantha DiMaglio, Environmental Specialist at the NJDEP, the shutoff of the interconnections, which supply about 40% of Elizabeth’s Water, require an application to be filed. Per DiMaglio, an application was filed for one of the three interconnections between Newark and Elizabeth which was partially shut-off in the first week of January 2019, not all interconnections as Papetti was asserting to contacts close to city hall. Applications for the other two interconnections have not been filed with NJDEP.

However, we learned from a conversation with the Latisha Justin at the Newark Water Department that the City of Elizabeth, via American-Liberty Water, is in a binding contract till the end of 2019 for the supply of finished water to the Elizabeth water system.

The facts are simple. Elizabeth still receives up to 40% of its water[i] from Newark source water including the Pequannock and Wanaque[ii]. Elizabeth and American-Liberty Water are in a binding contract for delivery of finished water till the end of 2019[iii]. John Papetti, Director of Public Works for the City of Elizabeth, has been erroneously telling other members of the administration that the water from Newark has been shut off[iv]. A representative of the Elizabeth Department of Public Works stated on the phone that we do not have interconnections with the Newark system[v], contradicting NJDEP records. Elizabeth has aged lead-based water delivery infrastructure that is susceptible to ineffective corrosion controls.

The combination of the mistruths by City officials, aged lead-based infrastructure, together with the fact that Elizabeth still gets up to 40% of our water from Newark should still ring alarm bells.


New Jersey Progressive Democrats of Union County (NJPD-UC) is a New Jersey non-profit organization which advocates for a progressive policy agenda and for transparency and ethics in government.

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Jonathan Lee Gibson
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Danielle Fienberg
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[i] As per NJDEP documents and statements.

[ii] As per American-Liberty Water public “Consumer Confidence Report” & System Description on file with NJDEP.

[iii] Conversation with Latisha Justin, Newark Water Company, Sept. 3, 2019, recording available.

[iv] As per off the record conversation with a source close to Elizabeth City Hall.

[v] Per phone conversation, recording available.

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