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Harrison: Don't Drink the Tap Water

Apr 07, 2022

The Passaic Valley Water Commission (PVWC) announced on its Facebook page that it had “Failed to Meet Water Quality Parameter[s] (WQP) levels”.  It has also posted a bulletin on its website written in very fine print that it consistently failed a corrosion control system last year from July 1, 2021, through December 31, 2021.  It is not clear why PVWC waited four months to reveal to the public that it failed to meet a water quality standard.

 What does this notice mean for residents of Harrison?  The technical phrase “corrosion control system” means the control of the lead and/or cooper getting into your tap water.  The Town of Harrison receives its water primarily from the PVWC so residents of Harrison should read the entire notice from PVWC.  If you only had 22 words to summarize the PVWC Notice you would be able to say, Avoid Drinking Tap Water because it may contain Lead and or Cooper which are bad for your health and your children’s health.

The Notice states in a section entitled “What should I do?”

Listed below are some steps you can take to reduce your exposure to lead and /or copper.

#1. Run water to flush out lead and/or copper. Run water for 15 — 30 seconds or until it becomes cold or reaches a steady temperature before using it for drinking or cooking if it hasn't been used for several hours.

#2. Use cold water for cooking and preparing baby formula. Do not cook with or drink water from the hot water tap; lead dissolves more quickly into hot water. Do not use water from the hot water tap to make baby formula.

#3. Do not boil water. Boiling water will not reduce lead and/or copper levels.

#4. Use alternate sources or treatment of water. You may want to consider using bottled water for drinking and cooking or a water filter designed to remove Lead. Read the package to be sure the filter is approved to reduce lead or contact NSF International at 800-NSF-8010 or for information on performance standards for water filters. Be sure to maintain and replace a filter device in accordance with the manufacturer's standards to ensure water quality.

#5. Get your child tested. Contact your local health department or healthcare provider to find out how you can get your child tested for lead if you are concerned about lead exposure.

The order of the recommendations is troubling.  Instead of starting with Item #5 or Item #4  respectively test your child if you are concerned with your child’s lead exposure and find an alternative drinking and cooking water source.  The latter (#4) is the only viable solution to eliminating as much lead and copper out of your drinking and cooking water. Why it and item #5 are last on the list of recommendations is troubling.

It is not clear if the Town of Harrison will need to replace lead pipes in the streets of Harrison as a result of PVWC’s failure to meet Water Quality Parameters as it related to lead and copper leaching into its tap water. 

What happened in Flint, Michigan was the water authority adding a chemical to its treatment plant that ultimately worked itself into the systems distribution pipes causing increased leaching of lead from lead pipes. 

The City of Newark has won accolades from the Biden Administration in particular Vice President Kamala Harris for the replacement of its lead pipes throughout the City of Newark.  The majority of lead pipes that were replaced were only lead pipes from the main in the street to homes and not other lead pipes in the water system. It is an accomplishment for sure but it is misleading to declare total victory when only a part of the water delivery system has been fixed. 

Does the Town of Harrison need the replacement of water service lines?  Only time will tell.  In the interim, it is recommended that you use bottled water and/or purchase a water filter that removes lead.  Not all water filters remove lead.  Preferably, an under-the-counter filter with a drinking water tap attached to your sink to filter out the lead and other substances (for lack of a better word) from your tap water.  If you purchase a filter, read the instructions carefully and follow the recommended period on when the filter cartridges need to be replaced.

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Note to Reader:  The Passaic Valley Water Commission located in Clifton NJ is a drinking water authority.  While the similarly named Passaic Valley Sewerage Commission located in the Ironbound Section of Newark NJ is a sewerage authority.

The Bulletin from PVWC is available in Spanish as well available by following this link.