SUEZ announced today that recent water quality tests found the drinking water in its Northern New Jersey system meets federal standards for lead.
While the tests results are welcome news, SUEZ officials said the company remains committed to its effort to protect customers. The company is vigilantly working to remove the remaining lead pipes from the system and improve corrosion control treatment.
“We will not rest because our work is not done,” said Mark McKoy, Vice President and General Manager of the system, which serves most of Bergen and parts of Hudson counties. “We are attacking this issue on many fronts – from removing thousands of lead service lines and enhancing water treatment to educating customers about the need to replace lead fixtures inside their homes. We want customers to be assured that we will continue this important effort.
The testing, performed between January and June in homes with lead plumbing and service lines, found that the lead corrosion level was 15 parts per billion, at the allowable level. Of 110 homes tested, 99 met federal and state standards.
McKoy noted that tests of the water in the reservoirs and leaving the treatment plant continue to show no trace of lead. There is also no lead in the mains. Lead can be found, however, in a very small number – four percent – of utility-owned service lines, the pipes that extend from water mains to homes.
SUEZ has launched an aggressive $16 million project to remove the remaining lead from the system. Crews working six days a week have already swept through 35 towns on their way to removing 2,300 lead service lines this year. In fact, the company expects to reach a milestone – 900 replacements – within days.
While that work continues, the company is strongly encouraging customers to address lead inside their homes. A SUEZ team visited every home with a test result above the standard to help customers identify lead issues. They found that lead plumbing, lead solder, faucets that contain lead, even grounding electric wires to lead pipes can cause elevated lead levels in the water. Customers should also replace their service lines – they own the section from the curb to the home – if made of lead.
“We are taking every action to remove lead and control corrosion,” McKoy said. “But customers have to take a look inside their homes and on their properties and act now.”
SUEZ intensified its efforts on lead in early January, when a previous round of testing found elevated lead levels in some homes in the system. In addition to its lead line replacement program, SUEZ:
- Formed a team of water quality experts to optimize corrosion control treatment, which coats pipes to prevent lead from entering the water. Advanced monitoring stations have been installed throughout the system and scientists are analyzing sections of pipes in the effort to determine enhanced treatment options.
- Established a free testing program for customers with utility-owned lead service lines. Of the 2,400 tests performed, 99 percent met lead standards. In fact, the vast majority showed no trace of lead. Any home with an elevated test received a visit by the SUEZ team to help identity and address potential causes.
- Educated customers through www.SUEZWQ.com, public information sessions in both counties and other campaigns. Our trained customer service representatives have assisted more than 15,000 customers who have called for information about lead.
“I want to assure our customers our work will continue. In fact this week alone, 20 crews are removing lead lines in 19 municipalities,” McKoy said. “We understand our customers are concerned and we are committed to delivering the safest water possible. We, too, live here. We raise our children here.”
About SUEZ in North America
SUEZ North America operates across all 50 states and Canada with 2,825 employees dedicated to environmental sustainability and smart and sustainable resource management. The company provides drinking water, wastewater and waste collection service to 6.6 million people on a daily basis; treats over 560 million gallons of water and over 450 million gallons of wastewater each day; delivers water treatment and advanced network solutions to 16,000 industrial and municipal sites; processes 160,000 tons of waste for recycling; rehabilitates and maintains water assets for more than 4,000 municipal and industrial customers; and manages $4.1 billion in total assets. The company posted revenues of $1.1 billion in 2018 and is a subsidiary of Paris-based SUEZ.
With 90,000 people on the five continents, SUEZ is a world leader in smart and sustainable resource management. We provide water and waste management solutions that enable cities and industries to optimize their resource management and strengthen their environmental and economic performances, in line with regulatory standards. To meet increasing demands to overcome resource quality and scarcity challenges, SUEZ is fully engaged in the resource revolution. With the full potential of digital technologies and innovative solutions, the Group recovers 17 million tons of waste a year, produces 3.9 million tons of secondary raw materials and 7 TWh of local renewable energy. It also secures water resources, delivering wastewater treatment services to 58 million people and reusing 882 million m3 of wastewater. SUEZ generated total revenues of $19.36 billion in 2018.