Everyone should pay their fair share for clean water

| 04 Oct 2012 | 01:39

    In my many years as a West Milford resident, I have been an MUA customer and have lived next to Belchers Creek, near the Crescent Park sewage treatment plant. Not far from my home, the creek, fed by springs, is drinking water pure. After coursing through the town and making stops at Pinecliff and Greenwood Lakes, its waters gurgle their way into the Wanaque Reservoir system.
    The creek is also fed with the ‘outflow’ from the sewage treatment plant. About a year ago this was rather troubling. On a number of occasions the outflow looked virtually untreated, as if it were a quick trip from the toilet, through the treatment plant, and into the creek. The creek’s waters, and whatever else is in it, quickly pass by my home and are out of sight. I don’t have to drink this water, or bathe in it, so I guess I shouldn’t care about it. But I do. So about six months ago, I volunteered to be a commissioner on the MUA Board.
    The phrase "water quality" seems to be a good objective of the MUA’s mission. It applies to both providing a good, clean water supply, and to the proper treatment of waste water being released into the environment. In thinking about this, however, it led to a unpleasant "ah-ha" moment for me, that is, our waste water is someone else’s water supply.
    This also flows into the reasoning that West Milford should be properly compensated as a steward of water quality. Nearly half of the state’s population, whether in Newark or Bergen and Passaic counties, depends on the region for clean, safe water, but does not adequately share in its cost. The cost falls on the township’s residents in the form of higher property taxes, and in complying with stricter septic ordinances or paying steep increases in MUA fees.
    As a candidate for the township council, I support the mayor and council’s decision to address this issue, and I vow to continue these efforts if elected. In addition to working with the neighboring watershed communities, I would also like to see if collaboration on this between the township and MUA is worthwhile. Fortunately, situations like the one noted above have been greatly remedied through the efforts of the "new" MUA board, but not without a cost to the MUA customers. The MUA’s cost to keep the water clean also needs to be shared by the water’s downstream users.

    Dave Ofshinsky
    West Milford