In some municipalities, fire hydrants are the main, if not the only, supply of water available to Fire Departments when battling fires. So why do such few people think about who is responsible to ensure that the hydrants are working properly and efficiently? The Legislature helped to resolve this question when it enacted N.J.S.A. 58:31-1, also known as the Water Quality Accountability Act (WQAA), which was made effective on October 19, 2017. With the overall goal of improving the safety, reliability and administrative oversight of water infrastructure, this law established new requirements for inspection and maintenance of fire hydrants by water purveyors.
The WQAA provides that each water purveyor shall, once a year, test every fire hydrant in its system in order to determine the hydrant’s working condition. Furthermore, it provides that each water purveyor shall formulate and implement a plan for flushing every fire hydrant in the public water system, and every dead end of a main in the public water system. This plan for flushing may be combined with the periodic testing of fire hydrants that is required. N.J.S.A. 58:31-3. The statute defines “water purveyor” as “any person that owns a public water supply system with more than 500 service connections.” While an argument can be made that once the water line is placed onto private property, it is no longer the water purveyor’s system, this argument is flawed. The fact remains that the lines placed on private property also remain part of the “public water supply system.” While the duty to flush and inspect the fire hydrants is placed on the water purveyor, the WQAA is silent on who bears the responsibility to pay for the needed repairs.
Maintaining your community association’s fire hydrants is a crucial and often overlooked task. Therefore, it is essential to be cognizant on whether the municipality has its own water department, is part of a municipal utilities authority, or has water that is provided by an independent company to ensure your residents are provided with the safety and security they expect.
For any questions about this blog, or to schedule a consultation with an attorney, contact Griffin Alexander, P.C. at 973-366-1188 or through our website here!
The information in this Client Alert is provided solely for information purposes. It should not be construed as legal advice on any specific matter and is not intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based upon particular circumstances. Each legal matter is unique, and prior results do not guarantee a similar outcome.
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