BERKELEY — The heavy rains from Tropical Storm Elsa continue to have an impact on New Jersey and may be to blame for E. coli detected in an Ocean County public water system.

A Boil Water Advisory is in effect for customers of the Berkeley Township Municipal Utilities Authority water system after E. coli was detected in one of three samples from the distribution system on July 14. In a subsequent test all three samples tested negative for E. coli.

"Bacterial contamination can occur when increased run-off enters the drinking water source (for example, following heavy rains). It can also happen due to a break in the distribution system (pipes) or a failure in the water treatment process," the MUA said.

The utility said it will be conducting a comprehensive assessment of its water system and their monitoring and operational practices to identify and correct any causes of contamination.

Customers of Aqua NJ, NJ American Water, Shore Water and Suez Water are not affected by the order.

A large presence of fecal bacteria in samples at two Ocean County beaches after Elsa caused them to be placed under advisory.

What's the correct way to boil water in this case?

Boiling kills bacteria and other organisms in the water. Bring all water to a boil, let it boil for one minute and let it cool before using, or use bottled water.

The utility recommends boiled or bottled water should be used for drinking, making ice, brushing teeth, washing dishes, food preparation and for pets until further notice.

The utility doesn't expect the order to go beyond 30 days.

The township is also handing out six gallons of water to customers at the H&M Potter School. Residents will need to show identification.

What happens if I drink contaminated water?

Contaminated water can cause short-term effects, such as diarrhea, cramps, nausea, headaches, or other symptoms. They may pose a greater health risk for infants, young children, the elderly, and people with severely compromised immune systems

Is this coronavirus related?

The utility said that the E. coli has nothing to do with COVID-19. Citing the World Health Organization COVID-19 has not been found in drinking water supply.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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