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Water Main Break Disrupts N.J.

May 1, 2001

BRIDGEWATER, N.J. (AP) _ A break in a 60-inch water main disrupted service to hundreds of thousands of customers in central New Jersey and closed schools Tuesday in parts of two counties.

Crews isolated the break, rerouted service and started restoring pressure Tuesday, but residents were told to boil water as a precaution against contamination.

The break occurred late Monday on a major transmission line at a water treatment plant run by Elizabethtown Water Co. The break affected customers in Middlesex, Somerset and Union counties.

Residents lined up at stores to grab bottled water.

``I woke up last night and I thought I forgot to pay the water bill,″ Lorraine Cimusz of Hillsborough said at a CostCo store in Bridgewater. ``The kids brushed their teeth with seltzer water this morning.″

Joe Rutkoski of Hillsborough bought three cases of water at CostCo.

``Last night, we had no water at all. This morning around 5:30 it was barely coming out,″ Rutkoski said.

Schools in parts of Somerset and Middlesex counties delayed opening or closed for the day. Middlesex officials activated their Emergency Operations Center to ensure adequate fire protection capacity, and tanker trucks were placed on standby.

Somerset County officials expected that by noon there would be adequate but not ideal fire hydrant pressure and that home faucets would have some water, said Leroy Gunzelman, director of county emergency management.

Elizabethtown Water serves 1 million customers in 54 municipalities in Burlington, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Morris, Ocean, Somerset and Union counties.

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