New Jersey American Water Co. and the City of Trenton may have submitted their expert reports in the Trenton Water Works battle, but observers have noted that some of the information contained in the papers represents the very best in cherry-picking data to support a favored conclusion.
That conclusion, of course, is that the water works infrastructure lying outside city limits serves less than 5 percent of the city’s population and therefore makes the sale process legitimate and a city-sponsored referendum unnecessary. A group of city residents has taken the opposite position.
In one report, the expert relies on water production assumptions that have raised some eyebrows.
Instead of relying on the mean water produced daily for use in the system, or even a lower value, the plaintiffs’ experts relied on the maximum daily production of around 29 million gallons, which was achieved on a single day at some point in 2005.
Such a production assumption is important because the more water produced, presumably the more pressure there is in the system, lessening the need for high-elevation areas of Trenton to rely on pressure generated by tanks and towers outside the city, especially in the event of a catastrophic fire.
Also, the plaintiffs’ experts attempt to use data to show how a massive fire would impact the system.
The exercise is an attempt to show that even with a catastrophic pressure drain from firefighting efforts, water pressure would still not drop to the point where water would reverse and head back into the tallest areas of the city.
While such an exercise appears significant on its face, it should be noted the plaintiffs’ experts chose only those locations served by the largest water mains in the system, as if catastrophic fires occur only in locations where there is an ample supply of water.
In reality, fires happen anywhere, even in places served solely by 6- and 8-inch water mains utilized in many residential areas in Trenton and outside the borders.
If a fire were to occur in one of these places, as it has many, many times, the result would almost certainly be reverse flow back into the city, serving much more than 5 percent of city residents.
Look a little closer, folks.