WOODLAND PARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -A boil water advisory has finally been lifted for tens of thousands of residents in northern New Jersey.
"Everything begins and ends with water," said Clifton resident Susan Donner.
Donner is relieved the tap water in her neighborhood is safe to drink and use again, after having to boil it for the past six-plus weeks.
"When you go to the bathroom, I can't wash my hands. When I want to wash the floor, I don't want to wash it with contaminated water. Really, your whole life is totally turned upside down," Donner said.
For weeks, residents have been waiting in lines for free bottled water or boiling it.
"We have to have clean water to drink as a human being," said Woodland Park resident Karim Alfauri.
"I don't even give it to my dog. Give my dog bottled water," said Vinny Bellofatto.
"It's safe to turn the tap back on. Brush your teeth, take a shower, drink the water as well," said Paterson Mayor Andre Sayegh.
"I want to say thank you to you for having the patience with us to make sure we could get this reservoir back online," said Paterson Councilwoman Ruby Cotton.
The Passaic Valley Water Commission operates three of six remaining open water reserves in the country, meaning water is stored there after it is purified, then is still exposed to elements, instead of kept in a tank.
Officials say an upgrade is greatly needed to reduce contamination risks.
"We need to replace our water reservoirs with enclosed tanks," said Louis Amodio, interim business administrator of PVWC. "We know, with climate change and other economic issues that are going on that we cannot control, this could happen again, unfortunately."
"We know that we cannot treat these open reservoirs with the necessary corrosion control inhibitors that will stop the leaching of the lead into the water lines," he added.
Officials say cleaning and fixing the reservoir is estimate to cost several million dollars.
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