Officials working to notify residents, resolve issue after chemical found in water in Willingboro

People in Burlington County are on edge after they found out a well is contaminated with a chemical that’s dangerous to drink. It affects Willingboro Municipal Utilities Authority customers in Willingboro and Westampton.

People were going in and out of WMUA building all day Tuesday saying it was the first they were hearing about the issue. Many said they had not received a letter alerting them to an issue with their water.

Diallyo Diggs, the acting Executive Director, explained the issue has been resolved and the water is safe. He explained the contaminated well is one of six and they have shut that well off and rerouted the affected customers to wells that aren’t contaminated.

Lori Barnard lives in Westampton and still has a lot of questions. "We’re all getting very confused saying, ‘Should we drink water? Should we buy water? Is it safe to bathe in?’ We just demand answers."

Willingboro Municipal Utilities Authority sent the letter out and posted it on its site on December 8th. The letter explained to customers know a high level of Perfluorooctanesulfonic Acid or PFOS violated a New Jersey drinking water standard. New Jersey just adopted the standard for the acceptable level of the acid in 2020 and began monitoring this year.

The letter said they received the violation in November and that the water had exceeded levels for every quarter this year.

PFOS is a manmade chemical that is used in a lot of products. According to the Department of Health, excess amounts of PFOS can cause problems with the immune or endocrine systems, or kidney or liver functions. For women, it’s possible they can pass down the same issues to a fetus, or a newborn if they are nursing.


"I’ve been drinking the water, I’ve been bathing in the water, I’ve been using the water for my children and my family," said Barnard. "I have autoimmune issues and that makes me vulnerable."

Joe Marlin with Marlins Water Service does water treatment for wells and city water in the area. He explained customers should call a certified laboratory to see how much, if any, is in a system. That will cost around $1000.

Since they started sending warnings out, Marlin says they’ve been very busy installing systems that can cost anywhere from $1500 to $3500.

"They recommend a dual carbon system that’s pretty much two big tanks and you’ve got to find a spot for them," Marlin statedc. "They are going to take out all these problems."

WMUA contracted engineers to create an activated carbon system big enough to remove the chemical from the affected well and Diggs estimates a 17-month timetable to fix the issue.

In the meantime that well is shut down.

Bobbie Person was a customer receiving the information at the WMUA building. "This is ridiculous, how are you going to keep people informed about what’s going on if you’re not telling them.  What else are they not telling us?" she exclaimed.

Diggs said they have 16,000 customers and the letter may take longer to get to some of them.

A meeting will be held in the community Wednesday evening to help answer the questions had by citizens. 



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