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PFOA and PFOS do not occur naturally. They are man-made chemicals that have been used to make carpets, clothing, fabric for furniture, paper packaging for food, and other materials (such as non-stick cookware) that are resistant to water, grease or stains. They are also used for firefighting at airfields and in a number of industrial processes. Through one means or another, they have penetrated into the deep underground aquifer from which Hawthorne draws its water, most likely from industrial discharges
In 2020 the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) set new limits on PFOA and PFOS in drinking water (limits that are well below the current federal health advisory levels). With regular testing required starting in 2021. The water itself has not changed.
The DEP “maximum contaminant level” for PFOA is 14 nanograms per liter (= parts per trillion)
The DEP “maximum contaminant level” for PFOS is 13 nanograms per liter (= parts per trillion)
These levels are significantly less than the federal EPA “health advisory level” of 70 nanograms per liter (parts per trillion), either individually or combined.
DEP has said that neither PFOA nor PFOS is deemed an acute contaminant, and the notice issued by the DEP is NOT deemed a “do not drink” order.
The DEP limits appear to have been established due to an abundance of caution and a concern about consumption of water over a lifetime
Hawthorne’s water has concentrations of PFOS and PFOA well below the FEDERAL advisory levels of 70 parts per trillion
It is unclear to the Borough the scientific basis for determining that there is an actual health risk at such low levels of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water
The Borough has not yet received a response to its Open Public Records Act (OPRA) request to the DEP seeking the scientific studies upon which the new limits were based. Once received, the Borough will share this information on its website at www.hawthornenj.org
According to the DEP, some people who drink water containing PFOA or PFOS in excess of the MCL over many years could experience problems with their blood serum cholesterol levels, liver, kidney, immune system, or, in males, reproductive system. Drinking water containing PFOA in excess of the MCL over many years may also increase the risk of testicular and kidney cancer. For females, drinking water containing PFOA or PFOS in excess of the MCL over many years may cause developmental delays in a fetus and/or an infant.
More information on PFAS in drinking water can be found in the New Jersey Department of Health's drinking water facts on the subject.
It is unclear to the Borough the scientific basis for determining that there is an actual health risk at such low levels of PFOA and PFOS in drinking water.
If you have specific health concerns, consult your doctor.
If you have a severely compromised immune system, have an infant, are pregnant, or are elderly, you may be at increased risk and should seek advice from your health care providers about drinking this water.
Bottled water is not regulated nor tested for PFOA, PFOS or other contaminants as is done for public drinking water
No, boiling water does not remove PFOA or PFOS.
The Borough engineer has been working since June to design a treatment system that will remove PFOA and PFOS from the drinking water
Bidding for construction of the treatment system will occur in March after completion of the design specifications, but must await approval of a permit by the DEP whose review of the permit application is ongoing.
Although a bid for construction pf the system is expected to be awarded by April of 2022, the current estimated timeframe for delivery of the necessary equipment is 55 weeks from the order date, which will likely push completion of the installation into mid-2023. DEP is has notified the Borough that we only have until August 25, 2022,to be in compliance (which means having the treatment system operational), the Borough still has not received DEP approval of the required permit, and the aforementioned estimated delivery schedule for the equipment makes this date totally unrealistic..
The Borough Engineer’s current estimate (prior to completion of the design) on the cost of construction on a treatment system is somewhere in the vicinity of $5 million.
The actual cost will be obtained through public bidding.
The system will also increase annual operating costs due to periodic replacement of media in the filters.
The Borough has applied to the State of New Jersey for a low interest loan to reduce the debt service costs for money borrowed to building this treatment system.
The Borough is exploring the possibility of a lawsuit against the manufacturers of PFOA and PFOS to recover all or a portion of the cost of the treatment process.
Any residual cost of the treatment system - whatever is not covered by the low-interest loans or recovery from the lawsuit - will be funded by the issuance of bonds.
The Borough will need to raise its water rates, as soon as 2023, to repay any bonds or low-interest loans used for the construction of the treatment system, as well as the operating costs of this system. The amount of that rate increase won't be known until after the final construction costs are known along with the interest rates for any borrowed funds.
Hawthorne Shade Tree Governance
The Hawthorne Shade Tree Commission (HSTC), is comprised of five volunteer members and two alternate members appointed by the Mayor to five year overlapping terms. The Shade Tree Commissioners work together as a board on policy and measures related to the proper care and stewardship of Shade Trees in the town. Public meetings are held the first Tuesday of each month at 4:30pm. Tree maintenance/remediation is managed and coordinated by the Borough and the hired contractor.
Hawthorne Shade Trees are in the "right of way". That generally means 10 feet from the curb into the lawn (there are other measurement factors that determine the 10ft.). If the tree is in the grass at the curb and there is a sidewalk, it is likely Shade Tree. Our Arborist will be able to measure and make that determination. If you are not sure, please call or email Hawthorne Shade Tree at 973-427-5555 ext. 318 or email HawthorneShadeTree@Hawthornenj.org.
Please go the Borough website for the following links:
It's always sad to see big mature trees removed. But, trees on private property are not subject to the Shade Tree guidelines. The Hawthorne Shade Tree Commission has no jurisdiction over trees on private property.
Pruning and Removal Requests
If you think your Shade Tree needs to be removed, please contact the Hawthorne Shade Tree at 973-427-5555 ext. 318 or email HawthorneShadeTree@Hawthornenj.org. Our town arborist will be out within two weeks to review the situation and provide a remediation plan. Please let us know if you think this is an URGENT issue so we can arrange a faster review. Also note, for every tree that is removed, the HSTC will do its best to replace the tree during the following planting cycle.
General turnaround time for tree remediation is 2-3 months, weather permitting, and if there are no other urgent tree remediation's that need to take place. Steps we take are:
Great question, stump removal is usually 4 weeks after the Shade Tree is removed. The area needs to be marked out by Public Works so no public services are impacted. Also, we try to ground multiple stumps at a time. These two things combined get us at a 4 week turn around.
When in doubt, please contact the Hawthorne Shade Tree at 973-427-5555 ext. 318 or email HawthorneShadeTree@Hawthornenj.org.. We can help with the next steps.
We understand you may want to appeal a decision recently made. To appeal, please do the following:
Your are correct, Hawthorne Shade Tree does try to budget for a planting each Fall. These trees are placed in the right of way, generally 10 feet from the curb in front of your home. We love when residents ask for these trees. Please call or email Hawthorne Shade Tree at 973-427-5555 ext. 318 or HawthorneShadeTree@Hawthornenj.org and make your request. We will fulfill all we can. These plantings are also used to replace trees removed for health reasons/road correction needs during yearly roadwork.
There is complete thoughtfulness in the trees selected by our arborist. Our arborist selects trees based upon site conditions.
Sidewalk Repair and Roadwork Projects
Yes, once you have secured your permit, please call or email Hawthorne Shade Tree at 973-427-5555 Ext. 318 or HawthorneShadeTree@Hawthornenj.org and make your request. the arborist will come out and look at the tree once the sidewalk is open and roots exposed. There should be no roots cut or trees removed without Borough Arborist direction. If the trees are cut in any way, this may result in a violation to the homeowner and contractor.
Please also go to our website for full documentation on the sidewalk process.
Yes, roadwork happens yearly. The HSTC arborist works with the Borough Engineer to determine what if any tree remediation is needed to complete roadwork successfully. Letters are sent to residents by the Borough Administrator to make you aware of the upcoming work. As a general rule, the arborist makes every effort to save every tree without compromising the tree or roadwork. The Hawthorne Shade Tree also works with the arborist to replace removed trees with trees that are appropriate for the site. If you have questions on roadwork, please contact the Borough Clerk at 973-427-1167 or Boswell Engineering at 201-681-5594 for more information.
Shade Trees always need to be reviewed and then maintained by the town. This helps to maintain the trees integrity. We also want to review the overall health of the tree. For pruning, please call or email Hawthorne Shade Tree at 973-427-5555 Ext. 318 or email HawthorneShadeTree@Hawthornenj.org.. Our town arborist will be out within two weeks to review the situation and provide a remediation plan. Pruning generally takes place in cooler weather.