CEO of SUEZ Addresses Lead in Drinking Water

Steve Adubato and Eric Gernath, Chief Executive Officer, SUEZ North America, discuss the elevated levels of lead found in the drinking water in NJ; the state’s aging infrastructure and the potential consequences if the necessary updates do not happen.

5/18/19 #310






"Eric Gernath is Chief Executive Officer of Suez North America. Good to see you Eric. Good to see you Steve. Thank you. For those of us who don't know what Suez is, tell us. So Suez is a public utility. We are servicing populations, you know around the world actually. In drinking water and wastewater. And there are many communities in the state of New Jersey that you service? Hoboken, Jersey City, Bayonne, Hackensack, ec cetera, et cetera? Many? Absolutely. Long term partnership. And we've been servicing those communities for a very very long time. Absolutely. And very proud of it. Let's also clarify for full disclosure purposes. Suez is one of the underwriters of our programming, particularly around environmental issues. That being said... Eric, help us understand something. Someone turns on the tap, and they go... where they're in one of these communities, right? "Geez, there's lead in my water. It must be the company, that company that provides the water to my home or my school or my business." Help us understand what goes on in those pipes that aren't that new. Steve, you know, everyone… and I'm sure you and I are no different. You know, we all take water for granted, but certainly it's not always been the case. And in the particular issue that you're referring to, lead can leach in water. Leach... explain what "leach" means. Leach... so lead can be dissolved in water, coming essentially from lead pipes, lead features that you can have in your home. But you know Suez, the water that leaves our plant is absolutely lead free. So there's no lead in the water leaving the plant. So whenever there's lead, that lead could be coming from the service line that is servicing your home. So "service line" - you know, just in layman's term, that's the line from the main, the water main, going to your house. But you know, we've talked about... we talked about this last year. We started the discussion. And there have been many more communities that have experienced challenges in this way. If there was an honest discussion, I ask you that again, I'm going to try it this time, if there was a truly honest discussion about what it would cost to upgrade...? I know the word "infrastructure" is one that not a lot of people would want to use, but the infrastructure around how we get our water, a real honest discussion about what it would cost in New Jersey...? Forget about the country, that's a much larger question. What are we talking about? Look... Is it billions? It's billions. And Governor Murphy, you know, has very publicly stated..."