18 February 1981
Water in Lake Carnegie Will Be Used During Shortage, Fire Chief Reports
“I’m not about to let anything burn”
Those words of reassurance came this week from Princeton Fire Chief Ralph Hulit Jr., as the talk of water shortages continued to spill over into conversation and rumors swirled and eddied.
With other municipal officials, Chief Hulit will take part m drawing up water emergency plans that must be ready for the state by Friday, February 27. Basically, the plan must show ways to reduce water consumption, although Chief Hulit said that the emergency plan for firefighters that he saw also asked municipalities to take inventories of various kinds of equipment and to seek out non-potable water sources.
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The two police chiefs — Michael Carnevale for the Borough and Frederick Porter for the Township — Borough Council member Barbara Hill and Township Committee member Winthrop Pike are working on the municipal plans.
The directive came from Col. Clinton Pagano, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police, and head of a new water emergency staff.
“No Comment.” Col. Pagano, municipal officials like Borough Mayor Robert W. Cawley and Borough Administrator Mark Gordon, and Chief Hulit, are reluctant to talk in much detail about the kind of things the state wants. They don’t want the public to misunderstand, and to think that recommendations which might be put into effect only in the driest kind of emergency are going to be the order of the day tomorrow.
So far as fire-fighting is concerned, Chief Hulit says Princeton’s three fire departments can take water from Lake Carnegie, and in fact have had two weekend drills, to get members of the fire companies used to drafting water up from the Lake — it’s a different kind of technique.
Also, the fire companies have access to the sewer tank where the sewer plant pumps treated water into the Millstone River.
Princeton has four pumpers, each with a 500-gallon tank.
Procedure Outlined. ‘‘We always do try to extinguish fires with a minimum use of water, to protect buildings from water damage,” Chief Hulit explains, ‘‘but if there is a hydrant near a house and the lake is a mile away, I’m not going to go down to the lake for water and let the house burn.”
He says there are 16 points in the emergency plan he has seen. The plan tells fire departments to make sure they know where they can get tankers (Princeton already knows), identify heavy equipment that can be used for fire breaks (Chief Hulit has done that) and so on.
“I need to find out,” the chief says, “what the state really wants from me.”
Plans from the 192 towns that are under rationing, like Princeton, are to dovetail with the one, overall emergency plan now being prepared by the state.
In other water-related matters, the state has said that owners of apartment buildings will be allowed to pass on to their tenants any surcharges by the water company for usage over the prescribed gallonage. But landlords must certify, to the satisfaction of the state, that the building has no leaks, and that landlords have reduced water pressure.
Prosecution to Follow. Also, water companies have been ordered to give to the county prosecutor the names of customers who refuse to pay surcharges. All surcharges are turned over to the state, which has not yet determined how the money will be spent.
So far, municipal swimming pools will be allowed to open. But golf courses in all 192 rationed communities plus another 180 (roughly bordering the Delaware River) must not be watered when spring comes.
Major water-relief projects for counties in the northern part of the state are expected to get under way by March 1. One is a booster pump and additional pipelines to take more water from the Round Valley reservoir in Hunterdon County, and send it to Newark. The Elizabethtown Water Company, Princeton’s purveyor, takes water from Round Valley.
Another is a pipeline along I- 287 which would join the Raritan and Passaic River basins, allowing use of water from Round Valley for Jersey City.