Preliminary filter testing results in Newark’s Pequannock water service area were announced, with preliminary results showing that over 97% of PUR filters issued by the city reduce lead below 10 parts-per-billion, which is below the EPA action level of 15 parts-per-billion. When used in combination with flushing (running the water after long periods of rest), results show that 99% of PUR filters issued by the city reduce lead below 10 parts-per-billion. The study team – a partnership between the City of Newark, the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – collected over 1,700 samples from hundreds of city homes. Its report will be finalized in the coming weeks.
“We are encouraged by these preliminary testing results and are relieved to know that there is no widespread failure of filters issued by the City of Newark, but aging water infrastructure is a state and national problem that demands leadership at every level of government,” said Gov. Phil Murphy. “Instead of passing blame as we’ve seen elsewhere, New Jersey is confronting this challenge head on. All of us at the state, county, and local levels have accepted our responsibility to ensure residents in the City of Newark have access to clean, safe water. I am committed to New Jersey leading the way in protecting residents from the dangers of lead and modernizing critical water infrastructure for future generations to come.”
According to Newark Mayor Ras Baraka, “The tests we have undertaken on our water filters show that when used properly they are doing their job to protect our residents from the risks of lead. Throughout every step in this process, we have put Newark residents first and will continue to do so. In removing approximately 18,000 lead service lines, we will be a model for the rest of the nation. We regard this situation as an opportunity to excel.”
As part of a comprehensive strategy to ensure residents have access to clean, safe water, the City of Newark is working aggressively to replace approximately 18,000 lead service lines across the city, including residential customers directly billed by Newark located in Hillside and Belleville, at no cost to homeowners–– the first major lead line replacement infrastructure project of its kind in the Northeast. The City of Newark also implemented a new corrosion control treatment, orthophosphate, in May to prevent lead leeching from lead service lines while they are in the process of replacement.
In addition to the test results, Governor Murphy announced that the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection has committed $1 million to fund a Community Assistance Program that will assist the City of Newark in recruiting, training, organizing, mobilizing, and a force that will install water filters, educate residents on proper filter use, and collect water samples.
This new program will be co-led by the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection’s Office of Environmental Justice and the City of Newark and will activate the strong base of volunteers from community, faith-based, and philanthropic organizations who have sought ways to assist Newark’s residents. The DEP and the City of Newark will be developing the details of the program in the coming weeks.
While the DEP and the city establish the Community Assistance Program to assist residents with water filter installation and sampling, the city will continue to make bottled water available.
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