Drinking Water in New Jersey


Peters Mine lies just a few miles from the Wanaque Reservoir, which provides drinking water for over 2 million New Jersey residents in towns as different as Newark, Nutley, Montclair, and Wayne. Concerns have been raised by several parties that contaminants might migrate into the reservoir. If this does occur, it would impact nearly every resident of northeast New Jersey, since some portion of their water supply comes from the Wanaque Reservoir or the Ramapo River.

All the major water suppliers draw from these sources including: United Water, Passaic Valley Water Commission, and the North Jersey District Water Supply Commission. In Ringwood, 8 million gallons of water per year are drawn from the Wanaque Reservoir, at an average of 22,000 gallons a day. 3,251 properties in Ringwood are on aging borough utility lines, drawing water from 4 public wells and 3 tanks (Zimmer, 2017). Houses which are not on the public water system draw from private underground wells, which are expensive to test and maintain, possibly making them even more susceptible to water contamination. While there may not be evidence of contamination of the Wanaque Reservoir today, concerns remain about contamination in the near or distant future. This is because there is limited knowledge about the underground movement of water in the mines or the nature and extent of percolation through fissures and cracks in the bedrock.


“Obviously you don’t want to see anything like this in your watershed...Right now we don’t see an impact. But is it a concern? Absolutely. Will it continue to be a concern, even when they’re done with the next set of sign-offs? Absolutely” - Chief Engineer, North Jersey District Water Supply Commission

“Obviously you don’t want to see anything like this in your watershed,”stated Michael Barnes, the water commission’s chief engineer, in 2005. “Right now we don’t see an impact. But is it a concern? Absolutely. Will it continue to be a concern, even when they’re done with the next set of sign-offs? Absolutely” (Washburn, 2005). But it is difficult to remove the hundreds of thousands of gallons of water now flooding the mines. Pumping mechanisms would be required, and there is the question of what to do with the water once it is removed since it cannot be released.  Removal would be required if the mines were capped.

In this clip Paul Tappenden points out that the water that many people drinnk is in danger.

One proposed option is “Closure/Treatment in the PMP Air Shaft.” This calls for permanently sealing the shaft and remediating the enclosed water. This strategy would place filtration devices at the base of the shaft (granular activated carbons and resin) that would help adsorb (not absorb) any COCs (Constituents of Concern) located within. In addition, slabs of noncalcerous stone would be placed inside and used as a stabilizing base for grout. The insertion of these filters would cause displacement of the water, which would need to be filtered and subsequently released into the immediate area, compliant with the New Jersey Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NJPDES) Rules. Finally, a slow-drying grout mixture would be used to line the interior of the shaft and coat any debris inside, before pouring a concrete top to permanently seal the shaft opening. Because this closure would be permanent, there would be no need to monitor the site; but this option is by far the most expensive (Cornerstone, 2018, pp.60-64).

Drinking Water in New Jersey