Clean Water Action Joins Newark Mayor Baraka in Ribbon Cutting to Launch Lead Service Line Replacements

Wednesday, March 13, 2019
Water from a faucet / photo: istock

Newark, NJ – Clean Water Action joins Newark’s Mayor Ras Baraka and other officials at a ribbon cutting to launch its lead service line replacement program. It is the beginning of a long and expensive process of fully replacing lead service lines throughout the city. Clean Water Action applauds the city’s current commitment to protect its residents from the harms of lead in drinking water despite many challenges.

In 2017, Newark was cited by the NJ Department of Environmental Protection to be in violation of the federal Safe Drinking Water Act’s lead and copper rule. There were enough tap water samples taken at the first draw above 15 parts per billion (ppb) to mandate action. In 2018, it was discovered that the city’s chemical corrosion control in the Pequannock portion of the water system was not working properly and the protective “scale” on the pipes was flaking off. The city is now in the process of switching over to a more effective and widely used process. Within a month of operation, it is estimated that 75% of dissolved lead will be removed with the full benefits of re-scaling likely to be achieved within the year.

In the interim, the city has distributed over 30,000 water filters with a year’s supply of replacement cartridges. It has also taken steps to implement its long-term remedy as required by law – i.e. full replacement of over 15,000 lead service lines from the curb to the home meter. The city has also committed to pay 90% of the cost, while the property owner will need to cover the remaining 10%, or maximum of $1000 with the option to pay on an installment plan.

"This is no small feat,” stated Amy Goldsmith, NJ State Director, Clean Water Action. “Today is the first of many groundbreaking days. Newark hopes to replace the city’s lead pipes at twice the speed (14% per year) mandated by federal regulations. It is currently on pace to do that. Phase 1 and 2 service line replacement orders are already booked. This is in part due to help from groups like Clean Water Action working with the city to spread the word about the problem, distribute remaining filters and sign people up for lead service line replacements.”

Clean Water Action has hired and trained Newark residents to go door to door in neighborhoods where 1-3 family homes are highly likely and/or known to have lead service lines. Particular focus is being given to households with young children as they are more vulnerable to the ill effects of lead exposure.

“It is not all going to be fixed overnight," said Goldsmith. "There is currently a back log of requests for water and pipe testing. This is a good problem to have. This means Newarkers are eager to know if their family is at risk and with that knowledge, we hope eager to act.” 

For more information about lead in water, go to Clean Water Action: https://www.cleanwateraction.org/features/drinking-water-new-jersey

To learn about and sign up for Newark's free water and pipe testing, free filter and discounted lead service line replacement, visit: https://www.newarkleadserviceline.com/

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Since our founding during the campaign to pass the landmark Clean Water Act in 1972, Clean Water Action has worked to win strong health and environmental protections by bringing issue expertise, solution-oriented thinking and people power to the table. We will protect clean water in the face of attacks from a polluter friendly Administration and Congress. Clean Water Action has 150,000 members in NJ and nearly 1 million nationwide.  www.cleanwater.org/nj

Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Action
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