As we have reported to the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, our water quality testing program has found elevated levels of lead in the drinking water in a limited number of homes in Bergen and Hudson counties. While 15 of the 108 homes tested above the government standard, we want to assure you that we are taking this seriously.
Water quality is so important to us that we perform nearly 50,000 tests each year in this system alone. The water leaving our plant has no detectable level of lead. In addition, we have no lead water mains. But lead has been detected in some homes where interior plumbing, solder and fixtures contain lead or where the home is served by a lead service line. SUEZ owns the portion of the service line from the main to the curb, while the property owner owns the portion from the curb to the home. The majority of SUEZ customers in Northern New Jersey are NOT served by a utility-owned lead service line. Less than 5 percent of the utility’s service lines contain lead. Twelve percent have lead goosenecks – a small flexible pipe about 18 inches long that connects a water main to a service line.
To prevent lead from leaching into the water we have had a corrosion control treatment program in place for decades, one we enhanced in 2017. Essentially, this coats the pipes to prevent lead from entering the water supply. We continue to rigorously monitor our system and will test for the next 12 months to make sure that our corrosion control treatment is working exactly as it should.
If you are served or possibly served by a utility-owned lead service line and you want your water tested, please call our customer call center
We are committed to solving the issue and we are here for our customers.
Steps we’re taking for you
STEPS WE’RE TAKING FOR YOU
More than a dozen crews are mobilizing across Bergen and Hudson counties in a sweeping attack on lead service lines, the pipes that connect water mains in the street to individual homes. Overall, as many as 100 lead lines will be replaced each week – approximately 2,400 by the end of the year. The $15 million project will remove 50,000 feet of lead from the system and 25 percent of the lead in its drinking water.
Within weeks, work will begin in eight municipalities that have the highest number of lead service lines: Bogota, Hackensack, North Bergen, Ridgefield Park, Rutherford, Teaneck, Union City and West New York. As the project ramps up, multiple crews will be replacing the utility’s lines in every town, every day.
Other municipalities with smaller pockets of lead service lines are also being targeted. Crews will begin in Alpine, Lodi, Old Tappan, River Vale, Upper Saddle River and Wallington, and eventually sweep through other areas of Bergen and Hudson counties.
In addition, SUEZ is working with Bergen County to replace lead service lines in coordination with road reconstruction projects. Still more of the utility’s service lines will be replaced in East Rutherford and Little Ferry in conjunction roadway improvement projects.
For more information, read the full press release HERE.
We want to help in any way we can
That is why we are providing water quality testing to any customer served by a utility-owned lead service line.
And, a water pitcher with a filter will be provided to any customer whose test results are above the government standard.
Our ultimate goal is to remove lead from the system completely. That is why every time that we do work in the ground and we see lead, we remove it. We are expanding that program to further target lead service line replacements in our system.
Since it will take time to test our corrosion control and remove lead lines, we are making an extra effort to provide important information to our customers:
- We are notifying every customer in our system.
- Our New Jersey customers can also visit www.mysuezwater.com/NJWQ to find out if they may be served by a lead service line.
- Our customer call center representatives are available to answer customer questions or concerns at 1-800-422-5987 or by emailing us at email@example.com.
We are taking concrete steps to help our customers, but this is not something we can do alone.
We believe that our partners in government can also take material actions to help limit lead exposure.
- At the local level, for example, if we were informed whenever in-the-ground, roadwork was conducted in our service territory, we would be better able to coordinate our lead service line replacement with towns.
- At the state level, we encourage the expansion of existing infrastructure programs or a program that would provide low-cost loans for customers so they can replace their portion of the service line.
- At the federal level, we believe the EPA should require homeowners to certify whether or not they have lead plumbing in their homes at the time of sale. We already have legislation for lead in paint. We need this for water.
Steps you can take
STEPS THAT YOU CAN TAKE
We recommend that you check your service lines – you’re responsible for the pipe from the property line to your home or business – to determine if it contains lead. We also recommend that you check interior plumbing and fixtures. They may contain lead, too. A licensed plumber will be able to help.
In addition to the information you’ll find here on this site, you can visit mysuezwater.com/NJWQ to find out if you may be served by a lead service line. If you don’t have access, our customer service representatives at 1-800-422-5987 can answer your questions or concerns and help you determine if you are served by a lead line.
We take the safety of the drinking water seriously. Our customers rely on us, and our employees raise their families here.
The water leaving our plant has no detectable level of lead and there is no lead in the water mains. We rigorously monitor the water – conducting nearly 50,000 tests a year. This is an issue with the service lines and plumbing, solder and fixtures inside homes. If you are among the 5 percent of customers in the system served by a utility-owned lead service line, the 12 percent with lead goosenecks, or there are lead fixtures or plumbing in your home, there is the possibility that lead could enter the drinking water. Even so, it is not certain lead will be found in the water – remember that we tested 108 homes with lead lines and 15 of those were above the safety standard. That is why we are providing testing for customers with lead lines.
If you are concerned about lead exposure, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection recommends contacting your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get tested for lead. Your family doctor or pediatrician can perform a blood test for lead and provide you with information about the health effects of lead.
Never use water from the hot water tap to prepare formula. Boiling water does not remove lead. To err on the side of caution, if you have a lead line serving your home, a lead gooseneck, or lead pipes or fixtures in your house you may want to take precautions.
This applies to our customers in Bergen and Hudson counties.
The notice does not apply to Franklin Lakes, Allendale or Saddle River. It also does not apply to residents in municipalities that contract with SUEZ to operate their water systems. This includes Jersey City, Bayonne, Hoboken, Rahway, Kearny and Orange.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control suggests that long-term exposure to lead in water is a concern for infants, young children and pregnant women. Lead can cause serious health issues because it can lead to neurological and kidney damage and interfere with the body’s production of red blood cells. Risk will vary, however, depending on the individual, the circumstances, and the amount of water consumed. For more information, consult a health professional.
All daycare centers and public and private schools in the state of New Jersey are governed by educational laws. If you have concerns, you should contact that facility. We are notifying all schools and day cares. The 16 locations that exceeded were all single family homes and did not include schools, businesses or government facilities.
To prevent lead from leaching into the water, we utilize an industry best practice corrosion control program. We have successfully had this in place for decades. Our corrosion control coats the pipes to prevent lead from leaching into the water, using PH and, since 2017, zinc orthophosphate. We continue to rigorously monitor our system and will test for the next 12 months to make sure that our treatment is working exactly as it should.
The ultimate goal is to remove all lead in the system. In addition to corrosion control, every time that we are doing work in the ground and we see lead, we remove it. We have been replacing more than 500 lines per year on average and are now expanding that program as part of the EPA’s requirement that we remove 7 percent of all lead lines and goosenecks from the system this year. We expect to replace more than 50,000 feet of lead in 2019.
Yes. As per the Centers for Disease Control, bathing and showering should be safe for you and your children, even if the water contains lead over EPA’s action level. Human skin does not absorb lead in water.
The primary source of lead in drinking water is from service lines made of lead, lead goosenecks, and from lead fixtures in homes. Service lines are pipes that extend from water mains to individual residences or businesses. Water quality professionals rigorously test the safety of water distributed from SUEZ treatment plants in Northern New Jersey and continue to find NO detectable levels of lead.
Other indoor plumbing pipes and fixtures may contain lead that could enter your drinking water, including lead solder that connects pipes in your home as well as brass faucets. Homes or buildings built prior to 1986 are more likely to have lead pipes, fixtures and solder. Lead service lines are typically only present in older homes, but older brass faucets with lead content can be found in newer homes.
SUEZ owns the portion of the service line that runs from our water main to your property line. You own the remaining portion that extends from your property line into your home or business.
To find out if the SUEZ portion of the service pipe has lead, customers can check their online account, visit www.SUEZWQ.com or www.mysuezwater.com/njwq, or call or email our customer service center at 1-800-422-5987 and firstname.lastname@example.org. Our customer service representatives are available to answer questions, including those about lead lines and testing.
Customers still need to determine the material used in their portion of the line. To determine if your home’s service line is made of lead, you (or your plumber) need to inspect the line. Lead service lines are generally a dull gray color and are very soft. You can identify them easily by carefully scratching with a flat-tipped screwdriver. If the pipe is made of lead, the scratched area will turn a bright silver color. Do not use a knife or other sharp instrument and take care not to puncture a hole in the pipe. A video that demonstrates how to conduct a scratch test can be found here. A qualified plumber can also determine if your home contains lead-based plumbing fixtures.
It is recommended that customers who have lead service lines on their properties hire a licensed contractor to replace the line. If you determine you have a lead line and/or you have replaced your line or plan to, please contact our customer service representatives at 1-800-422-5987 so we can update our records. If our side of the line is also made of lead, we would like to coordinate our replacement work with yours.
If replacing pipes and household plumbing is not an option, many water filters are effective in removing lead. Be sure to check the label or contact the manufacturer to confirm the water filter is NSF-certified for lead removal.
Before using any tap water for drinking or cooking, flush your water system by running the kitchen tap (or any other tap you take drinking or cooking water from) on COLD. Never use hot water from the faucet for drinking or cooking, especially when making baby formula or food for infants.
Steps customers can take:
- Test water inside the home for lead. SUEZ will provide free tests to residents on our list of known or suspected lead lines. The NJDEP maintains a list of certified laboratories. To access this list, please visit https://www13.state.nj.us/DataMiner. Once there, click Search by Category then select Certified Laboratories from the Report Category drop down box. Then click on the Submit button and under Certified Laboratories choose Drinking Water Certified Lead Labs.
- Run the water and flush out lead. Let the water run from the tap before using it for drinking or cooking any time the water in the faucet has gone unused for more than six hours. The longer the water resides in plumbing the more lead it contains. Flushing the tap means running the cold water faucet for about 15 to 30 seconds. Although toilet flushing or showering flushes water through a portion of the plumbing system, you still need to flush the water in each faucet before using it for drinking or cooking. is a simple and inexpensive measure you can take to protect your health. It usually uses less than one gallon of water. For those with lead service lines or until you determine if you are served by one, let the water run from the tap based on the length of the lead service line and the plumbing configuration in your home.
- Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap. Hot water can dissolve lead more quickly than cold water. If you need hot water, draw the water from the cold tap and then heat it. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.
- Do not boil water to remove lead. Boiling water will not reduce lead.
- Remove and clean aerators/screens on plumbing fixtures. Over time, particles and sediment can collect in the aerator screen usually found at the tip of indoor faucets. Regularly remove and clean aerators screens and remove any particles.
- Look for alternative sources or treatment of water. You may want to consider purchasing bottled water or a water filter if there is lead in your home. Be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 1-800-NSF-8010 or nsf.org for information on performance standards for water filters. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer’s recommendations.
- Proper and routine maintenance of water softeners. It is very important that residents manage their water softeners appropriately. Not properly maintaining your water softener could have a negative impact on the corrosivity of the water in your home.
- Get your child tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get tested for lead if you are concerned about lead exposure. Your family doctor or pediatrician can perform a blood test for lead and provide you with information about the health effects of lead.