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 16 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. The likely source of lead in the drinking water is from the service lines, pipes that extend from the water mains to the homes and businesses, and from lead fixtures in customer homes. All of the 108 homes we tested were known to have lead lines. Approximately 5 percent of the utility-owned service lines in our system – we own the pipe from the main to the property line — contain lead. In addition, 15 percent of our system has what are known as lead goosenecks, a short piece of pipe that connects the 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
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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. We rigorously monitor the water – conducting nearly 50,000 tests a year. This is an issue with the service lines and interior plumbing of homes. If you are among the 5 percent of customers in the system served by a utility-owned lead service line, the 15 percent with lead goosenecks, or there are lead fixtures 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 16 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.
The water distributed from the plant has no detectable levels of 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. 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 are now expanding that program to more specifically target lead service line replacements in our system.
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 email@example.com. 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 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 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 for 1–2 minutes. 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. We will provide free tests to residents on our list of known or suspected lead lines. Other customers can contact an independent laboratory to have their water tested for lead. The NJDEP maintains a list of certified laboratories. To access this list, please visit https://www13.state.nj.us/DataMiner.
- Have a licensed plumber check interior faucets, pipes and fittings to determine if they contain lead. Pipes and lead-based solder can all leach lead into water. Faucets, fittings, and valves, including those advertised as “lead-free,” may also contribute lead to drinking water.
- Get their children tested. Healthcare providers can provide tests and information about lead exposure.
- Run the water and flush out lead. The longer the water sits in plumbing, the more lead it contains. Let the water run from the tap before using it for drinking or cooking any time the faucet has gone unused for more than six hours. 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, the water still needs to be flushed in a faucet used for drinking or cooking.
- 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. 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.
- Proper and routine maintenance of water softeners. It is very important that water softeners are maintained appropriately. Not properly maintaining a water softener could have a negative impact on the corrosivity of the water in your home.
- If lead is detected, look for alternative sources or treatment of water until the plumbing is repaired. A water filter may help. 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 your water filters. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer.
SUEZ has replaced lead service lines for years. We are now expanding that program to more specifically target lead service line replacements in our system.
If you are concerned, you may contact a laboratory that will perform a test. The following labs are among those listed on the DEP’s water quality website:
AGRA Environmental and Laboratory Services: 973-989-0010
APL (Aqua Pro-Tech Laboratories: 973-227-0422
Eurofins Eaton Analytical: 800-332-4345
Garden State Laboratories: 908-688-8900
Hampton- Clarke: 973-244-9770