Take Back the Tap: Clean Water Action Joins Governor in Release of Lead Task Force Report & Announcement of State’s More Comprehensive Lead Action Plan

Thursday, October 10, 2019
child drinking tap water

Trenton, NJ -- Today, Clean Water Action joined Governor Murphy and other members of the Jersey Water Works Task Force on Lead in Drinking Water to release its report “Lead in Drinking Water: A Permanent Solution for New Jersey”. The Task Force report reflects the recommendations of advocates, utilities, health professionals, municipal and state government, and academia. It offers a blueprint for removing lead, primarily through the replacement of lead service lines and fixtures in homes, schools and childcare facilities.

Governor Murphy also announced a more comprehensive new initiative to address lead in water, paint, and dust with a funding commitment behind it. While the administration has some discretion to move forward, additional legislative action may be required. Earlier this week, the Governor announced plans for more frequent lead testing (every 3 years instead of 6), better public disclosure (post Department of Education (DOE) database and remediation plans by school), and release of funds for targeted lead removal efforts in schools from the Securing Our Children’s Future Bond Act.

The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is expected to propose long-awaited revisions to the Safe Drinking Water Act's Lead and Copper Rule today, which focuses on reducing lead at the tap in water served by regulated water systems.

“As New Jersey and other states take the lead, EPA has the opportunity to articulate a national vision for getting lead out of our water distribution systems, by requiring full lead service line replacement within a defined number of years,” said Amy Goldsmith, Clean Water Action State Director. “But we do not have to wait for a coordinated federal strategy, New Jersey must move forward with targeted funding, laws and regulations to ensure safe and affordable drinking water for all New Jerseyans regardless of zip code, color of your skin or income.  We cannot be more pleased by the governor’s announcements this week. Moving from commitment to swift action will be critical for real and long overdue reductions in lead exposures. This is good news for our most vulnerable who face the greatest harm from lead.”

“When it comes to getting lead out of drinking water, the highest priority should be given to permanent protections at the first point of exposure and potential harm, especially for pregnant/nursing women to infants consuming formula," added Kim Gaddy, Environmental Justice Organizer, Clean Water Action, Newark resident and renter who just received a lead service line (LSL) replacement. “A lead free environment is critical to a child’s development. The solution is easy – test, disclose, and replace lead service lines in a timely and affordable way. This task force report outlines how to get the job done in homes, schools and childcare facilities.”

LSLs represent up to 80% of the source of leaching lead in drinking water with the remainder being from fixtures and solder. Lead in water is 40-60% of the lead intake during some of the most critical moments of development - in utero through infancy – after which lead in paint and dust play a larger role.

New Jersey is estimated to have the fifth (5th) largest number (350,000) of LSLs in the nation due to the age of its housing stock in our older cities, suburbs and rural areas. The majority of LSLs were installed in 1-4 family houses before the 1950’s. Lead service lines, solder and fixtures were not banned until 1986. LSL are not found in large buildings, high rise apartments and schools, but leaded fixtures and solder might.

“Clean Water Action knows from direct experience in Newark and Trenton that residents need to be informed early, with accurate information about both interim and permanent solutions to get the lead out of drinking water and address this family health crisis,” stated Kim Gaddy. “But information alone is not the answer. We need to ensure equitable state/local funding which result in mandatory lead service line replacement at no direct cost to tenant or property owner.”

“Newark is replacing its 18,000 LSLs within a 36 month timeline,” continued Ms. Goldsmith. “We need to do this on statewide in places where our children spend the majority of their time and may be exposed to lead in water the most – home, childcare and school. Clean Water Action looks forward to working with the Governor to tackle this crisis as urgently as possible to get the lead out of our homes, schools, neighborhood sand children. His decisive leadership will allow all of us to Take Back the Tap-Let the Water Run.”

The slogan “Take Back the Tap-Let the Water Run” is part of a larger initiative of Clean Water Action to ensure LSL replacements and corrosion control measures afford the greatest protections from exposure to lead in drinking water. 

View full report on line at www.jerseywaterworks.org/LeadReport.

Report Appendix can be found at: www.jerseywaterworks.org/LeadReportAppendix



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. www.cleanwater.org/nj

Amy Goldsmith
Kim Gaddy