Boil water orders have been issued for a number of New Jersey municipalities statewide to ensure the public health and safety of State residents, as a result of the effects of Hurricane Irene.
Water companies across the State are reaching out to their customers to advise them of the situation and to detail what steps to take in case of water quality issues. If you are unsure of your water system’s situation, check the web site for your specific water company or phone their offices.
State, county and local officials are monitoring water quality carefully. Listen to and follow public announcements that will advise residents if and when water is safe to drink or use.
Municipalities that have instituted boil water orders, so far, include Florham Park, Irvington, Maplewood, Millburn, Short Hills, Springfield, Summit, and West Orange, which are all part of the New Jersey American Water Company’s Short Hills system. Boil water orders also are in effect for Hightstown, Rockaway Township, and South Amboy, and more are likely.
Reasons for these boil water orders include disruptions to water supply treatment or delivery due to power outages and flooding caused by the storm. Additionally, damage to roadways throughout may be delaying transportation of supplies that may be needed to sustain operations.
The DEP is urging any New Jersey residents who are unsure of their water supply – from either a municipal water system or personal well -- to either use bottled water or boil your potable water before use.
If there is evidence of a water supply problem, including cloudy or turbid water, or there has been complete loss of water service or intermittent water service, it would be advisable to boil water before consumption. Cloudy or turbid water, or complete or intermittent loss of water service could mean your water supply may be compromised with disease-causing organisms.
As a precaution, users of the potentially affected water supply are advised to bring water to a rolling boil for one minute (not including the time to bring the water to a boil) before consuming or to use commercial bottled water for consumption and food preparation.
Consumption includes brushing teeth, washing fruits and vegetables and making beverages and ice. Tap water that has not been boiled may be used for showering, bathing, shaving and washing, so long as care is taken not to swallow or allow water in the eyes or nose or mouth.
Children and disabled individuals should have their bath supervised to ensure water in not ingested. Though the risk of illness is minimal, individuals who have recent surgical wounds, are immuno-suppressed, or have a chronic illness may want to consider using bottled water for cleansing until the concern of water quality has passed.
Businesses and non-residential sites should take steps such as posting notices at or disabling water fountains and ice machines during the period of concern over the water quality. If water is provided to visitors or employees, use of commercially produced bottled water for drinking and beverage preparation, such as for coffee, is appropriate. Food service and health care operations have additional requirements from their regulatory agency.
Here are some tips regarding Water Safety during and after and emergency event:.
--Boiling water will kill most types of disease-causing organisms that may be present. Boil the water for one minute, let it cool, and store it in clean containers with covers.
--If you can't boil water, you can disinfect it using household bleach. Bleach will kill some, but not all, types of disease-causing organisms that may be in the water.
--If water is cloudy, filter it through clean cloths or allow it to settle, and draw off the clear water for disinfection.
--Add 1/8 teaspoon (or 8 drops) of regular, unscented, liquid household bleach per each gallon of water. Stir it well and let it stand for at least 30 minutes before you use it.
--Store disinfected water in clean containers with covers.
--If you have a well that has been flooded, the water should be tested and disinfected after flood waters recede. If you suspect that your well may be contaminated, contact your local or state health department or agriculture extension agent for specific advice.
For more information on water safety visit the following sites: http://nj.gov/health/er/natural.shtml or http://www.bt.cdc.gov/disasters/earthquakes/food.asp