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Trenton mayor pushes against calls for state to take over water system

Trenton mayor pushes back against calls for state to takeover water system
Trenton mayor pushes back against calls for state to takeover water system 02:06

TRENTON, N.J. (CBS) -- The mayor of Trenton is pushing back against calls for the state to take over the city water system, which services five communities in Mercer County. It comes after years of water quality issues and a political tug of water between Trenton's mayor and City Council.

"I welcome any assistance from the DEP," Mayor Reed Gusciora said.

Trenton's mayor says he is open to a proposed partnership with the state of New Jersey, but he does not want to see a full state takeover of Trenton Water Works after years of water quality issues that include algae, discoloration and lead levels.

"I think it's an asset that Trenton by and large wants to keep," Gusciora said.

Trenton's water system serves about 217,000 consumers in five communities, including Trenton, Hamilton, Ewing, Hopewell and Lawrence Townships.

Over the summer, a study found that 50% of homes in Hamilton Township tested positive for the legionella bacteria, which can cause legionnaires disease.

"I think a state takeover is the only solution that's going to have any teeth here," Hamilton Township Mayor Jeff Martin said.

Martin says 60% of Hamilton Township is serviced by Trenton Water Works.

Trenton mayor pushes back against state taking over city's water system 02:00

He's concerned about the water quality and believes the state needs to take action.

"Everybody knows that occasionally there are going to be issues that happen," Martin said, "but they shouldn't be repeated issues."

Last week, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection sent a letter to Trenton highlighting continued failures with the water system and gave the city 30 days to provide a comprehensive plan moving forward.

During a news conference, Trenton's mayor said more investment is needed, but he blamed City Council for voting down key projects to improve water quality.

"It's been a political tug of war for the last four years," Gusciora said. "This is a council leadership, that for political reasons, wants to block every advancement that we put forth."

CBS Philadelphia did reach out to Trenton's council president for comment but did not hear back.

There is a meeting Thursday night. City Council will vote on two resolutions to improve water quality.

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