Locals Tout Improved Water Quality After Desalination

By Desiree Taylor

Less salt adds up to better tasting drinking water in Keansburg. That’s according to Keansburg Mayor Lisa Strydio who worked with council members for nearly a decade to get a desalination plant built at the borough’s water treatment facility which dates back to 1924. The plant will help combat saltwater intrusion which the mayor says stems from the borough’s reliance on water drawn from wells so close to the coast.

The plant typically treats about 800,000 gallons of water per day. It’s essentially a two-step process. First, iron is filtered out. Then, about two-thirds of this water goes through a process called reverse osmosis, which removes most of the salt. Steve Ussmann, the superintendent for the Keansburg Department of Water and Sewer, says this process has reduced the sodium in the drinking water from a high of 90 parts per million to around 30. As a result, the water tastes better and it doesn’t stain your clothes or dishes, says Councilman Arthur Boden. Longtime resident Gary Zitzman also noticed an improvement. He says, “Even by the smell, the smell alone, I can tell the difference.”

There could also be a monetary benefit. The mayor expects customers will see a decrease in their water bill which she claims is already very affordable. “Our rates are lower than New Jersey American Water because we have no overhead,” Strydio says. “Everybody uses that water [New Jersey American Water] and they’re at the mercy of that company. That’s what we didn’t want to be.” But the borough buys about a third of its water from New Jersey American Water, according to Ussmann.

Nearly half of the cost of the $3 million plant was paid for with federal stimulus money. Low interest state loans covered the rest. Keansburg’s desalination plant is believed to be one of just two in the state.