JERSEY CITY, NJ - A boil water advisory remains in place for Jersey City after SUEZ, the city’s water provider, announced that tests revealed the presence of E coli in their distribution system. According to a statement from SUEZ, the bacteria that “can make you sick and are especially a concern for people with weakened immune systems” was initially discovered on Tuesday, August 11, though it was not announced until Friday.

Further samples, SUEZ added, were taken on Wednesday, August 12, with additional contamination being revealed through testing on the evening of Thursday, August 13. An email from SUEZ to TAPinto Jersey City said that the follow up tests, and therefore delay in reporting initial finding, is "standard practice." The presence of the bacteria indicates that the water may be contaminated with human or animal waster, their statement said.

While SUEZ said that they “flushed the water distribution system” and that an “investigation is underway to identify the root cause,” city officials have indicated that the public wasn’t informed quickly enough, and are seeking answers.

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“We are extremely concerned and extremely disappointed in Suez,” Mayor Steven Fulop said in a Facebook post, adding that he believes the time lag between when Suez first was aware of the issue with a test result and when they notified the city of a potential issue is “absolutely unacceptable.”

Fulop, who said this is the first time he recalls abnormal tests since he’s been involved in government, went on to offer an assurance that that matter will be pursued aggressively, including with the city council, but that “the first priority today is to identify the location of the problem and get it corrected from a health standpoint.”

“Once the problem is resolved we will have ample time to question Suez and make sure that the process is corrected long term.”

Ward E Councilman James Solomon also sounded the alarm saying the 72-hour delay in informing residents of the issue is “unacceptable.”

“The City Council must investigate and call Suez Water Executives before us to testify,” Solomon said. “We must understand why this delay in notification occurred and what plans they will put in place to ensure it never happens again."

SUEZ’ advisory also said that infants, children and senior citizens may be at greater risk of a negative health impact from exposure to the bacteria including suffering from diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, and other symptoms. 

“People at increased risk should seek advice from their healthcare providers about drinking this water.”

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