PATERSON, NJ - As businesses start thinking about how and when to reopen, they should also think about the water that’s been sitting in the building’s internal water system for weeks or even months, Mayor Andre Sayegh said at a City Hall press conference Friday. To help protect their employees and visitors, it’s important to flush the building’s internal water system before allowing the building to be occupied.

Dr. Suzanne DeLorenzo of the Passaic Valley Water Commission described that when water sits inside pipes, fixtures and tanks for long periods of time, the disinfectant in the water dissipates and loses its effectiveness. As the disinfectant dissipates, microorganisms can grow in building’s internal water system. Some of these microorganisms may have the ability to cause disease in some people.

Another risk is that of lead leaching into the drinking water. When drinking water leaves the treatment plant, it’s treated to coat the pipes and fixtures to keep lead out of the water. But when water sits in the pipes for extended periods of time, the coatings can weaken and destabilize. As this occurs, lead particles can dissolve and get into the drinking water.

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To avoid these risks, owners should flush their building’s internal water systems before allowing people to occupy the building. If staff are available, flushing should begin now, first by running the cold water from nearest where it enters the building, and then the hot water, both for at least 10 minutes, even if the building won’t be occupied immediately. Flushing early will result in less deterioration of water quality in the building and a quicker return to normal conditions.

PVWC is mailing notices with instructions to all commercial property customers and has placed step-by-step instruction on its website. To learn how to flush your building’s water system, visit or contact the Customer Service Department at 973-340-4300.


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