Searching through my township’s recent news stories, I stumbled upon a public notice about the water. A major statement from the public notice was “one of our bulk water suppliers, New Brunswick Water Department, violated certain rules set by the Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP).”

In an attached notice by the City of New Brunswick, it stated that:

“The New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (NJDEP) sets minimum water quality standards, including enforceable treatment technique requirements for drinking water. Inadequately treated water may contain disease-causing organisms…that can cause symptoms such as nausea, cramps, diarrhea and associated headaches…Although this situation does not require that you take any action, as our customers, you have a right to know what happened, what you should do, and what we have done to correct this situation.”

Basically, the notice details what happened, when it happened, why it happened, and what to do now. In summary, there was not enough contact time between chlorine and a specified disease-causing organism during certain dates of December 2014 and January 2015, allowed by a licensed operator who made monitoring errors regarding the quality assurance process that occurs when treating the water.

Water treatment and quality is a major concern of planning. First and most importantly, all humans need water to survive. This issue of clean water was first discovered to be related to planning early in the Industrial Revolution, when many diseases and deaths occurred that resulted from the lack of planning and the disregard of public health. Specific reasons were overcrowding of dwellings, the lack of sanitation methods, and lack of separation between wastewater and stormwater drainage systems.

The separation of wastewater and stormwater was very important to consider, especially in times of storms and hurricanes, when a possible flood can bring back the waste into homes and buildings.

A major shift in planning moved to environment protection in the 1970’s, when the nation took dramatic measures to “clean” the environment with the many different pieces of legislation created to set environmental protections regulations and agencies, such as the Clean Water Act of 1972 and the Department of Environmental Protection.

The nation has come a long way ensuring safe and quality standards for the members of society. Now more than ever, public planning revolves around the health, safety, and welfare of the individuals. This highlighted public notice is just an example of the continuation of the measures taken to protect individuals and ensure a clean environment.