Leaks into sewerage system costing Sea Bright

By Neil Schulman

Sea Bright — The good news is that Sea Bright isn’t paying the sewerage bills for neighboring towns. The bad news is that means the system has some big leaks somewhere.

At the April 12 Borough Council workshop, Councilman Kevin Birdsall said that he and other borough officials had met with the Two Rivers Water Reclaimation Authority to examine the meters by the Sea Bright-Rumson bridge.

The sewerage systems are only supposed to be used for waste water, not storm drainage. But when there’s heavy rains or floods, the amount of water Sea Bright sends to the TRWRA for treatment can skyrocket.

Sea Bright typically sends about 2 million gallons to the authority a month. Following the January flood event, they sent 10 million. In theory, the storm should not have affected the borough’s usage at all.

One theory as to where the water was coming from was that the meters on the bridge, which determine what water comes from Rumson and what from Sea Bright, were improperly calibrated, and Sea Bright was being billed for Rumson’s share, or leaks from their neighbor.

But the Authority showed Birdsall that there are two different meters monitoring the situation, and he’s convinced that’s not the problem.

“It does not look like Rumson is shorting their meter at all,” Birdsall said. “There’s no way to fudge the numbers.”

But had that been the problem, it would have been an easy fix. Now, Sea Bright needs to determine where storm water is coming into the sewerage system.

One possibility is sump pumps which are illegally hooked up into the sewerage lines.

Another one is just broken pipes or openings. If a four-inch top is broken off a drain, that could pour massive amounts of water into the system during a storm.

The next step will be to perform a smoke test, where smoke is pumped into the pipes. If any is visible, that’s an open leak and probably a big one.

It wouldn’t detect underground leaks, however.