Three homeowner sites test positive for Legionella bacteria in Hopewell Township

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Hopewell Township officials announced this week that three homeowner sites in Hopewell Township have tested positive for legionella bacteria, which causes Legionnaires disease.

The New Jersey Department of Health (NJDOH) had collected water samples in September from homeowners served by Trenton Water Works (TWW).

“We want to make sure that all of our residents served by TWW are informed about these positive test results and understand DOH’s recommendations to stay safe,” Mayor Courtney Peters-Manning said.

State health officials have informed the volunteer homeowners of the results from the samples taken, according to the NJDOH.

“These test results emphasize that NJDEP’s action this week to directly oversee TWW is of paramount importance, and I look forward to seeing improvement at the utility under their direction,” Peters-Manning said.

The recent water sample results follow reports of Legionnaire’s disease cases in areas of Hamilton Township that is served by TWW.

Since December 2021, there have been five cases including one fatality reported in Hamilton regarding the disease.

Legionella bacteria has been identified in water samples collected from more than half of 30 homes across several municipalities receiving water from TWW, according to NJDOH.

The bacteria has also been found in homes from Trenton, parts of Lawrence Township, and Ewing.

The state agency is urging that all homeowners and business owners who receive water from TWW take the necessary actions to reduce the risk of legionella growth within their home or business serviced by TWW.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) describes Legionnaire’s disease as a serious type of pneumonia that people can get sick from when they breathe in small droplets of water containing the Legionella bacteria into the lungs.

Hopewell Township informed residents that it is rare for people to get sick from bacteria, but those who are dealing with diseases such as COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease], are or were smokers, and people with weakened immune symptoms are more vulnerable to getting sick.

The township’s Health Officer Dawn Marling is recommending that all TWW customers set their hot water heaters to a minimum of 120 degrees Fahrenheit, as legionella growth can occur with water temperature, stagnant water and sediment.

The temperature of the hot water heaters will reduce Legionella growth and reduce the danger of legionnaires’ disease, according to the township.

Marling also recommends that residents flush any faucets or showers weekly that do not get by running the water for three minutes.

For residents with specific concerns, they can call the Hopewell Township Health Department at 609-737-0120.

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