Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Don't Drink the Water Just Yet

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Don't Drink the Water Just Yet

Article excerpt

RAMSEY - For a second day, residents had to use bottled water to brush their teeth.

Ramsey's boil-water advisory will remain in effect at least through today as officials take more samples and pump disinfectant into the water system to rid it of coliform bacteria.

Mayor Richard Muti said he is hopeful the problem will be cleared up by week's end.

Residents, meanwhile, are upset about what they say are flaws in the notification system. Some with unlisted telephone numbers say they didn't get reverse 911 calls Monday. And others question the two-day lag in alerting the public, since the first indication of trouble came Friday.

Craig Arpino is still reeling over not being notified at all about the problem. The father of three said he overheard people talking about it in a grocery store, went home and checked the borough's Web site.

Reverse 911 systems typically don't include unlisted numbers.

"If the town wants to communicate in that fashion ... perhaps people with private numbers will register," said Arpino, who has an unlisted number.

The town, he says, should have reached out with fliers or another form of communication, too. "If you're going to do something, you have to be careful to get all the residents."

Every month the borough samples water from 16 sites. Results for three samples gathered Thursday came back positive Friday for the presence of bacteria. The contaminated samples were collected at borough hall, the DPW garage and the Main Street train station.

Department of Environmental Protection guidelines require the borough to retest immediately. So samples were collected again on Friday and sent off to the lab. When the results became available Monday afternoon, a boil-water advisory was issued.

Muti says he wasn't told about the problem until about 3 p.m. Monday. "The water department and water superintendent were following DEP protocol," he said.

In hindsight, Muti said, he would have made some suggestions had he been notified sooner - such as sending samples to more than one lab, including one that's open on Saturday. "Unfortunately, I wasn't notified on Friday," he said. …

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